SAN FRANCISCO, United States (Reuters) — A San Francisco-based start-up company is producing shoes made of recycled water bottles responsibly sourced rubber and stars like Gwyneth Paltrow are loving the Eco-friendly fashion trend.
The idea of developing a line of woman’s flats from recycled water bottles is the brainchild of two men, Roth Martin and Stephen Hawthornwaite who, up until 4 years ago, didn’t know the first thing about shoes and now have a thriving line of woman’s shoes called Rothy’s.
“What Roth and I joke about today is that if we knew then what we know now, we never would have done this,” said Hawthornwaite, the CEO of Rothy’s. “But the beautiful thing is that at a certain point, we were so deep into it that we felt we needed to continue,” he added.
By continuing, the team developed a method to create what is arguably the most eco-friendly shoe ever made.
“For us it was about adapting recycled waste that comes to us in the form of plastic water bottles,” Roth Martin, co-founder and head of creative at the start-up told Reuters. “We sterilize those bottles, hot wash them, they get chipped into flake and then they are extruded into a very soft filament fiber.”
Those fibers are then loaded into a 3D knitting machine guided by computer algorithms designed to minimize waste during shoe assembly. Taking the eco-friendly theme a step further, the knitted fabric and insole are then attached to the shoe’s outsole, made from responsibly-sourced no-carbon rubber.
Rothy’s got noticed by Paltrow last year and since then the team have had to increase production to keep up with demand.
“The other great thing is that we are not going to run out of water bottles any time soon. So we have an infinite supply of material and I think that bodes well for our future,” said Martin.
Rothy’s offers their clients a free-of-charge option to send the used flats back — where the salvaged shoes get recycled again, completing a sustainability loop that’s sure to keep eco-conscious consumers coming back to order more.