By John DeFore
Green Right Now
Making footwear out of used auto tires may not be a completely new idea, but the many tire and/or inner tube sandals you may have come across aren’t nearly as versatile as (and they look substantially less comfortable than) the line of ecoSNEAKS by the nice folks over at Simple Shoes.
Made partly from car and bike tires, partly from fast-renewing materials like bamboo and hemp, and held together by water based glues, the sneakers are green in about a dozen different ways (naturally, they’re even sold in a box made of 100% post-consumer paperboard with soy-ink printing) and stylish to boot: Some recall old-school skateboarding gear, others go girlie-cute, and one or two models remain neutral enough for grown-ups to wear in public.
Having coveted these kicks for some time, I finally gave them a try and am finding them more solid than my last pair of plain-vanilla tennies, although they’re obviously not as supportive or performance-oriented as athletic shoes. (I wouldn’t want to see what effect the black-rubber soles would have on a polished gym floor, either!)
They’re made in China, which might be a hurdle on the way to Simple’s goal of a “100% sustainable” product — but was probably also a compromise the Santa Barbara-area company found necessary in keeping the price in the $55-$65 range. Some of the kookier styles are much cheaper. China or no, the stitching is tight, the soles well padded, and the karma feels like a million bucks.
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