For every product sold, United By Blue removes one pound of trash from the oceans. Founded in Philadelphia in 2010, United By Blue (UBB) has so far removed over 1.5 million pounds of trash from 23 US states through a network of clean-up events mostly staffed with volunteers. Combine the conservation driven manufacturing efforts of UBB with SOLE, a Vancouver based company, and you get a completely sustainable Jasper Wool Eco Chukka. SOLE has been a completely carbon negative company since its founding in 2001 and has donated over $330,000 dollars to POW (Protect Our Winters), BCM (Big City Mountaineers), and Karno-Kids while fulfilling their mission of helping people lead painfree active lives while having the least possible impact on the planet.
SOLE's x United By Blue Jasper Wool Eco Chukka is about the most environmentally conscious shoe you'll find, read on to learn all about them.
The two companies decided to collaborate after both SOLE’s original Eco Chukka and UBB’s Bison Puffer Jacket were both recognized at the 2018 Outdoor Retailer Innovation Awards. Debuted on Kickstarter on March 4, the Jasper Wool Eco Chukka features both environmentally conscious technologies in a shoe designed to be comfortable, durable and an overwhelmingly positive step towards a more sustainable footwear industry.
The Jasper Wool Eco Chukka features sustainable technologies from top to bottom, starting with a natural rubber sole that uses latex sap which is sustainably harvested (as opposed to killing or harming the tree during the harvesting process) and rice rubber made from discarded rice husks.
The footbed is made from SOLE’s ReCORK™ insoles, fabricated from 100% recycled wine corks claimed to be more durable and flexible as a traditional (plastic) EVA mold.
Inside the shoe is a Bloom™ Algae footbed, coated in an additional layer of ReCORK™ and treated with Polygiene® odor treatment.
Bloom™ is a method of using algae biomass to mold a foam similar EVA, and requires 35% less energy than traditional foam production. The shoe upper is ethically-sourced merino wool from Australia in a plaited knit pattern for more durability.
Insulated with UBB’s signature BisonShield™ insulation, the Eco Chukka regulates temperature and stays warm when wet using discarded bison hair as a natural hollow-fibre insulator. Even the laces are pesticide free and made from Bamboo fibre.
Although technically not vegan, the Chukka’s use of merino wool and bison hair are completely cruelty free and does not negatively impact its living derivatives.
The Chukka’s sustainability also comes from the intended longevity of the shoe. The flexible, packable uppers can be washed with gentle soap and warm water and the rubber outsoles can be replaced at any shoe store. Roughly 80% of the shoes materials will biodegrade faster than industry standard including the 100% biodegradable binder used in the ReCORK™ sole. SOLE has already demonstrated the advantages of cork footbeds, and the Chukka is no exception with the same supportive durably proven to last longer than industry synthetics. Between the natural fibres in the footbed and upper and the Polygiene® treatment, the shoe resists odor and regulates temperature, meaning they won't host colonies of bacteria and need to be disposed of prematurely. Limited information is available regarding recycling or rebuildling at this time but updates will be available on kickstarter as production picks up. SOLE and UBB also plan on releasing a slipper with a similar construction in the future.
The Chukka is designed with a wider toe box and relaxed fit. For reference, a men’s size ten is approximately 125cm at its widest point (width D); a womens size seven is roughly 105cm (width C). The flexibility of the merino will accommodate a wider foot with a slightly more snug fit. The midsole drop is 6mm and includes arch support, but is also compatible with an aftermarket insole. The Chukka currently isn’t offered in half sizes and can be worn with or without socks. The shoe is designed for casual wear and claims to be both warm in the winter and breathable in the summer, though the merino exterior is not DWR treated.
ReCORK™ cork footbed
Bloom™ Algae foam
Natural and rice rubber
merino wool upper
The Chukka is an inspiring step towards sustainability in the outdoor industry and uses a lot of innovative technologies to replace traditional petroleum based materials such as EVA and nylon. The partnership between SOLE and UBB will hopefully inspire other companies to collaborate and produce products that feature more sustainable designs and/or manufacturing processes.
The Chukka functions well as a casual shoe and sits somewhere between a down bootie and a leather slip on. With a more durable insulation the shoe stays warm when damp and regulates temperature well, however, is not made for wet weather or mud. At the other extreme it's far more durable than a traditional house shoe and is just fine on dry pavement and not too hot indoors. The flexible upper offers almost no support but is comfortable and conforming. The plaited knit merino appears to be much more abrasion resistant than a standard wool weave but still much more delicate than a nylon or leather upper (however, could be patched by hand if so desired). A DWR would be a nice touch, and more information on the recycling or rebuilding process would really add to the sustainability aspect. A great shoe for strictly shoulder season casual wear and those who prefer soft, flexible or sockless footwear.
Price: $200 CAN / $150 US
Sizes: Men’s 7-14, Women’s 5-11 (full sizes)
Colours: Black, dark grey, beige (laces: black, beige, blue, red, mustard)
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