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A good sport

The Ecologist

15th February, 2011

Say no to exploitation and eco crime with French sportswear company Veja’s ultra cool, ultra green trainers

Sportswear companies have had a bad rap over the years with the impact of concerns about exploitation of workers and unsustainable materials making themselves felt. But French company, Veja, is aiming to change all that. Started five years ago by Frenchmen, Sebastien Kopp and Francois Morillion, Veja's accessories range uses fairly traded wild rubber from the Amazon and canvas uppers made from Fairtrade organic cotton. The use of wild rubber means the virgin rainforest is left intact and the rubber is also liquid smoked – a process which has a minimal carbon footprint.

While Veja does use leather in some of its products, it acknowledges that there are problems with sourcing fair trade, eco-friendly leather and makes sure its leather doesn't contribute to deforestation in the Amazon basin.The shoes are then put together in a co-operative factory in São Paulo before being shipped to Europe. The company also works with French charity, Ateliers Sans Frontières, which helps the long-term unemployed to find work and runs recycling projects in Africa.

A favourite of celebrities such as Coldplay singer, Chris Martin, and French actresses, Marion Cotillard and Charlotte Gainsbourg, all of Veja’s trainers are unisex, although some come in girlier colours than others. The brand has also launched a range of bags made from vegetable-dyed leather and cassia plant fibre.

Veja is available at Selfridges, Oi Polloi, French Trotters and Oki-Ni

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