A new sustainable design of sneakers are made from a combination of cork, natural rubber, recycled bottles and fungus.
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We have already seen numerous ways in which clothing has been made more ethical and environmentally friendly. For example, the South Korean firm which created self-assemble footwear in order to eliminate sweatshop labor. This ethical innovation puts the onus on the customers who put the shoes together themselves. The recent invention of a new kind of vegan leather also holds much potential for the creation of clothing that is not only vegan, but also eco-friendly. This leather is made from mushroom mycelium, making it more sustainable than the alternatives currently available. Nat-2 has also used fungus in their vegan leather design, combining it with eco-cotton, suede made from recycled bottles, cork and rubber.
German designer, Sebastian Thies, and the designer Nina Fabert headed up the design of the trainer. Fabert is the designer of Zvnder, a line of vegan leather products made from the same fungus used in the sneakers. This real fungus, fomos fomentarius, is a parasite, tinder sponge, which grows on dead or weak birch and beech trees. Harvesting this material is a laborious process. Workers must collect it by hand, and then test it for a year. Historically used for fire-lighting, this material must then undergo hand-work treatment for a further two years. The finished material is anti-septic and anti-bacterial in addition to it being sustainable.
However, this fungus is just one element of Nat-2’s new sneakers. The other materials are equally as high quality, such as eco-cotton and microfiber suede made from recycled PET bottles. The sneakers also boast real cork insoles and real rubber outsoles. This renders the sneakers fully chemical-free and organic. Furthermore, produced by hand in a small Italian family run manufacturer the shoes are ethical as well.