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How green are your Havaianas?

Sella Oneko

3rd May, 2011

Whether on the beach, in the city or in the countryside, summer’s staple shoe is without doubt, the humble flip flop. Question is, how well do flip flops really go with the environment?

For those of us who live in the world’s colder climates, getting your feet flip-flop ready is a yearly ritual. As the summer begins, it’s goodbye winter boots and hello Havaianas. Come autumn, flip flops are out, off and usually, in the bin. Flip flops might be available in a whole rainbow of colours, but they certainly aren’t green. If you’re lucky the treads of synthetic rubber will last you a holiday or maybe even a season. Most are made from polyutherane, a by-product of crude oil, and are rarely recycled; the majority ending up landfill. So what can you do about it and are there any decent alternatives? The solution is in their past.

The first flip flops were based on Japanese ‘zori’ sandals, which were made from natural fibres plus wood or leather. Unlike today’s flip flops, they also had thick soles – much better for feet than the current incarnation. Cipo’s Amazon flip flops, £24, like Havianas, hail from Brazil but are made from sturdy vehicle tyres, meaning they’ll last longer while keeping feet happy thanks to their thick soles. 

Then there are Ethletic flip flop, £15. Made from natural biodegradable latex, they come in a range of shades, don’t contain animal glues and use rubber harvested according to FSC standards, meaning that the plantations it comes from are responsibly managed with a limited impact on the environment and the forests. If you want to avoid rubber altogether, try Po–Zu (pause in Japanese) which has created stylish sandals using organic hemp for the straps, coconut husks for the lining and natural latex for the soles. All the products used in the shoes are recyclable and instead of using glue, the shoes are stitched together. Even longer lasting than Ethletic and Po-Zu are the old eco warrior standby, Birkenstocks. They might have a vegan range (from £45) but their current styles are funky enough to satisfy even the choosiest.

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