Kāpiti Coast Company Makes Footwear from Plants in the Name of Sustainability

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Orba shoes designed by Kāpiti Coast are made entirely from biodegradable and sustainable materials: linen, kenaf (similar to hemp) and ramie (similar to thistle).

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Orba shoes designed by Kāpiti Coast are made entirely from biodegradable and sustainable materials: linen, kenaf (similar to hemp) and ramie (similar to thistle).

A start-up from the Kāpiti Coast has developed a world first: a street sneaker designed to biodegrade.

Designed in New Zealand, almost every part of the shoe is made from plant-based or biodegradable ingredients, sourced from ethical sources around the world.

Sustainability chief Gillian Boucher said the shoes are made from non-toxic plant-based materials and designed to biodegrade. The Orba Ghost street sneaker was released this year and the company has already obtained B Corp accreditation.

But durability doesn’t come cheap: a pair of Ghost sneakers costs $ 245.

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The materials are 94% plant-based, including flax, kenaf (similar to hemp) and ramie (similar to thistle), and were chosen with the impacts of pesticides and irrigation in mind. agriculture could have on local communities, Boucher said.

They prioritized “highly regenerative and renewable plants,” said Boucher. “They don’t need anything more than rainwater to grow.”

“When they reach the end of their life, they don’t damage the soil they end up in, unlike man-made and plastic materials that release toxins into the soil as they decompose – a process that can take hundreds of years. Said Boucher.

But people shouldn’t throw them in their compost bins just yet – the company is asking for the return of the end-of-life shoes, in order to continue their work of creating a circular system.

“We are testing to establish what is the exact microbial recipe for getting the fastest decomposition,” she said.

Orba was founded by Kāpiti man Greg Howard. Boucher, who comes from Canada,

met him at a local cafe and got on board.

The brand was launched at the end of September.

“Our goal is to have all the materials eco-certified, but you’re looking at high costs,” she said. “We need to find that balance between financial sustainability and environmentally friendly footwear. “

Boucher said the shoe industry is an example of products made without giving much thought to their destination.

“We are fighting the pollution caused by the 20 billion shoes produced worldwide each year and destined for landfill.

The company has developed a unique sole made from natural rubber, rice hull ash and coconut oil, and insoles made from cork, coconut husk and natural rubber. The formulation is a world first and designed to eliminate the problem of shoes thrown in landfills that take 40 to 1000 years to decompose.


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