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These Shoes Made of Algae Help Clean Polluted Lakes All over the World



algae shoes

It seems that the problem of water pollution finally starts to concern people all over the world and even encourages some of them to find innovative solutions.

Manufacturing footwear may sound like a weird way to solve the problem of ocean waste and water pollution, but you will be surprised to know that it’s quite an effective one.

Thus, a footwear manufacturing company called Vivobarefoot helps save marine systems all over the world from toxic algae pollution. The company presented its water-resistant Ultra III shoes made from a material which is 40% algae and 60% ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA). In the future, Vivobarefoot hopes to further decrease the content of petroleum-based EVA and increase that of algae.

The company website states that one pair of Ultra III shoes helps clean 57 gallons of water!

In fact, this is not the only company that aspires to help the marine environment by producing eco-friendly shoes. In 2015, Adidas presented a prototype of sustainable sneakers made entirely from ocean trash.

Algae-based material

To create its sustainable shoes, Vivobarefoot collaborated with a Mississippi-based company called Bloom Foam, which produces innovative algae-based foam. The company harvests algae from the lakes which are prone to algal blooms and makes small pellets out of it, which can be used for different kinds of products instead of conventional petroleum-based pellets.

The company’s goal is to help reduce the production of plastic worldwide as much as possible and replace petroleum-based products with innovative bioplastic.

Rob Falken, Bloom’s founder, told Fast Company,

“The end goal is to remove as much of the petroleum feedstock as possible. When you take a waste stream from nature—there naturally but there in such mass because of manmade inputs—we can take that feedstock, that problem, and functionalize it into usable goods that are the exact same quality, indistinguishable, from the status quo that’s out there today.”

Algae pollution in the world

Algal blooms threaten marine ecosystems around the globe. As always, humans are to blame – tons of chemical waste end up in the waters, and this causes the growth of toxin-releasing algae, which is hard to control. This algae pollution poisons the marine environment and leads to catastrophic consequences for the marine animals.

Thus, Lake Taihu in China, which used to be a source of drinking water for millions of people decades ago, is known as one of the most polluted regions in the world. Its water is filled with toxic algae, animal waste and trash.

Lake Taihu was among the polluted lakes Bloom harvests the algae biomass from to make its innovative bioplastic. Falken said,

“We’ve already got more algae than we’ll ever need. In China, Lake Taihu could produce enough algae for us to produce a pair of shoes for every man, woman and child on this planet.”

Image credit: Vivobarefoot

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