If you’re on a quest to lead a sustainable lifestyle, add Saola to your list. The brand offers shoes made from recycled plastic, but they don’t look or feel like plastic. Using a combination of sustainable materials, Saola has created stylish shoes that are better for the environment.
The company is on a mission to provide consumers more options when it comes to eco-friendly fashion. Because let’s face it – most fast fashion brands are damaging the environment at a rapid pace.
Did you know that every year, more than 25 billion pairs of shoes are produced? The footwear industry is one of the biggest polluters on the planet. Saola is on a mission to change that by offering stylish, comfortable shoes made with eco-friendly materials.
Saola is focused on two missions:
The materials used to create shoes plays a huge role in its environmental impact. In fact, it accounts for 60-70% of its environmental footprint.
Saola is focused on eco-construction and uses sustainable materials to create their shoes, including:
Saola uses organic cotton to create their shoelaces. Conventional cotton is one of the dirtiest crops on the planet, accounting for 1/4 of the pesticides used in the world. Organic cotton is grown with the use of pesticides, which helps cut down on pesticide use. Organic cotton is also softer and generally more durable.
Saola uses recycled plastic bottles to create the uppers for their shoes. To create their uppers, the plastic is first cleaned, ground and melted to create threads. Those plastic threads are woven into fabrics to produce Saola’s uppers.
Depending on the style that you choose, each pair of Saola shoes contains 4-5 recycled plastic bottles. Buy two pairs and you alone have removed 10 plastic bottles from landfills.
Recycled Algae Foam
Algae may not be the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to shoes, but Saola has found a way to incorporate recycled algae foam into their insoles and outsoles.
Saola works with Bloom Foam to harvest harmful algae from waterways and process it into powder form. The powder is then mixed with EVA to create algae foam that’s used to create the soles of their shoes.
Algae foam allows Saola to reduce the amount of synthetic materials in their soles by 15-20%.
The algae harvested is the kind that’s toxic to marine life as well as humans. It’s so harmful that algae bloom has been declared an environmental crisis.
The great thing about harvesting the algae is that it not only removes it from waterways, but each pair of shoes made with this material re-circulates 240 bottles of water back into natural habitats.
Saola tested their algae foam material at length before committing to using it in their shoes.
Recycled EVA Outsoles
Some of the company’s shoes aren’t made with algae foam, but rather, partially recycled EVA outsoles. The recycled EVA is mixed with new EVA to create a comfortable, springy foam that’s durable.
Saola’s top insole layer is made out of cork, which is a sustainable and natural material harvested from cork trees. Removing the bark from cork trees doesn’t actually harm the tree. In fact, it does quite the opposite. It can help extend the tree’s life by up to 200 years.
Another great thing about cork is that it’s a flexible material that can mold to the shape of your foot. This reduces stress on your joints, and it also helps keep odors at bay.
Saola’s focus on eco-friendly, sustainable materials is just one thing that sets them apart (and arguably the most important), but the company goes beyond that.
Did you know that Saola is named after the rare and elusive Saola animal. There are only about 300 of these animals left in the wild, and they are naturally found in the mountains between Laos and Vietnam.
More than 60% of the planet’s wildlife has disappeared. Saola is committed to helping slow this trend down by donating 1% of their turnover to organizations that make an impact on preserving wildlife.
Do Saola Shoes Have a Warranty?
Yes! Saola stands by their product, so if you don’t love it, they will take them back. All of their shoes are backed by a 6-month warranty against workmanship and defects.
Naturally, the warranty doesn’t cover normal wear and tear, product abuse, improper care and improper use.
What About Production?
Saola’s materials are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to their commitment to sustainability. Production also plays an important role in the environmental impact of thier shoes.
Saola sought out to find a factory that was aligned with their environmental and social values but was also close to their raw materials suppliers. The company, since 2019, has been working with a factory in Hanoi, Vietnam.
The factory is also used by other major brands that have environmental and social rules. Saola visits the factory routinely to check up on its quality, the work environment and the quality of production.
Saola offers shoes for both men and women in a variety of styles, including:
Waterproof sneaker-boots (great for a light hike)
Waterproof slip-on sneakers
Classic street sneakers
Slip-on slipper-style shoes
Saola’s shoes combine style and comfort with sustainability. If you weren’t told they were made with recycled plastic, you’d never know. They look just like any other shoe you see on the shelf. But you can feel good about wearing Saola shoes. The company’s focus on sustainability and eco-construction is what makes this brand shine.
All of Saola’s shoes go through aggressive testing by brand ambassadors.
Saola’s ability to produce shoes made from 60% recycled materials has removed an estimated 100,000 plastic bottles from landfills. The company has nearly zero material waste, which is a major feat for a new brand. REI was the company’s first major customer, and the company is currently looking for ways to help customers recycle their shoes at the end of their lifecycle.