Metro Man & Metro Home

By Eric Capstick

One could imagine a fight song for this progressive company: “We make shoes and bags from the waste of the world! We make shoes and bags from renewable stuff! We make Simple Shoes sense and so should you!” And this jig could go on for quite some time because of the truly amazing array of innovative and environmental-positive materials and processes that Simple – Shoes for a Happy Planet utilizes. The people at Simple Shoes are, without a doubt, trailblazers in renewable and sustainable industry. They provide a model for the future and one that other companies should emulate now so they can get in the game with a business model that makes sense for all of us.

The short list of sustainable materials used in constructing Simple shoes and bags includes; organic cotton, hemp, jute, silk, felted wool, coconut, cork, and bamboo, which are all organic in nature and abundantly available. The philosophy to use only renewable resources in their business has also led Simple Shoes to employ some of the worst dregs of waste that our society produces. Simple Shoes uses recycled plastics (PET) and latex elastic, bike tires, car tires and post-consumer paper. All of these materials are reclaimed from the junk heap that would otherwise fatten our landfills or be incinerated.

The functional, hip style of the Simple line is evident in the pair of black olive Tuba Eco Sneaks ($70) I had the pleasure of sampling over the past couple of weeks. The Tuba is comfortable and light on your feet with a vaguely counterculture feel to them. I attribute this mostly to the fact that they are different-looking than other sneakers and therefore present a challenge to the status quo. The soles of the Tuba sneaks are made from recycled car tires and would take 20 years to decompose rather than 1000 years for the rubber used in most new sneakers.

Tuba sneakers have a fresh, textured feel to them as you run the hemp outer shell through your fingers. Isn’t it absurd that it is illegal to grow hemp in the US even though you can’t smoke the stuff? I learned on the Simple website that hemp also serves as a natural pest repellant and doesn’t need to be treated with pesticides or herbicides. The site is full of fascinating details about the origins and processes involved in acquiring the materials used in Simple products, including the rationales for their use based on the material environment impact and abundance in nature.

As for Simple Shoes bags, they’re made from organic cotton, recycled plastics and feature superior construction while managing to be rugged and hip too. There are tons of well-designed pockets and zippers to handle all your needs including books, folders and a laptop.

Simple Shoes has demonstrated that high quality products can be made in a way that does not degrade our environment. Simple is in business to make a profit but they want to do it the right way with an eye on the future health of our planet. Check out all of the great products at http://www.simpleshoes.com, and find out for yourself what a progressive company looks like.

Originally published November 2009
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