Restorative Technology: Algae-based footwear cleans polluted ponds and lakes

Restorative technologies are emerging at an ever-faster rate worldwide, but some of them are more surprising than others. Now we have footwear that helps restore polluted lakes.

Massive October 2011 algae bloom in Lake Erie. Satellite photo via Jesse Allen & Robert Simmon of the NASA Earth Observatory.

Many folks have seen the headlines about massive fish die-offs “caused by algae blooms”. In fact, it’s not the algae that’s killing fish: it’s the excess nutrients that humans are putting in the water: lawn fertilizers, dog poop, etc. The algae is actually working hard to clean the water by taking up these nutrients.

The problem is that we aren’t harvesting the algae before it dies and releases the pollution back into the water. Now, your choice of footwear can help rectify that situation.

On May 23, 2017 leading London-based barefoot shoe company VIVOBAREFOOT announced its partnership with San Diego-based BLOOM, which uses algae biomass harvested from freshwater sources around the world (and cleaning them up in the process) to make EVA foams out of a non-fossil fuel for the first time—an innovation set to massively clean up the global shoe industry. VIVOBAREFOOT shoes will be the first full shoes to use the material and will be available for purchase in the summer of 2017.

Founded in 2012, VIVOBAREFOOT is a global barefoot shoe company, offering men’s, women’s and children’s shoes for everyday wear, running, off-road adventures, and more. In addition to encouraging people to get closer to nature, the company prides itself on its sustainability practices.

BLOOM is a performance-based materials manufacturer, founded in 2015. BLOOM offers the first sustainable alternative to the synthetic and petrochemical foams prevalent in today’s market. Using algae biomass helps offset the significant use of petroleum ingredients found in conventional flexible foams.

The VIVOBAREFOOT x Bloom collaboration will start by using the BLOOM algae-EVA foams in the Ultra shoes: the ultimate amphibious adventure shoes. A single pair of men’s size 42 VIVOBAREFOOT x Bloom shoes returns 57 gallons of clean water to habitat and reduces 40 balloons worth of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, per pair.*

Our goal is to deliver the most performance-driven materials in the most environmentally-responsible manner,” said Mike Van Drunen, CEO of BLOOM. “It is a goal we constantly strive to improve upon, and we are excited to collaborate with VIVOBAREFOOT on the new Ultra line.

This is a true revolution for the footwear industry with the first plant based alternative to the petro-foams in ubiquitous use,” said Galahad Clark, founder and MD at VIVOBAREFOOT. “We are thrilled to be the first company to use BLOOM in our shoes and further our mission to make the perfect shoe… perfect for feet and minimal impact on the planet.

The Ultra shoe using BLOOM technologies—made from algae—will be available for purchase as of July, 2017.

All photos courtesy of Vivobarefoot.

See VIVOBAREFOOT website.

See BLOOM website.

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