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Debra Born headshot

Suavs Recycles Water Bottles Into Sneakers

By Debra Born
Recycling Water Bottles

Take a sip out of that disposable water bottle that you bought when you thought no one was looking. Then hold the water bottle out and look at it as if for the first time. Notice I said look at it, don’t crush it, because the clear, corrugated plastic is sharp enough to cut you if you crack it. As you hold it in your hand, ask the question consumers around the globe are wondering: Is it possible that recycling water bottles can result in a pair of comfortable sneakers?

Suavs answers a resounding “yes” with a new sustainable sneaker, The Legacy.

Out of Austin, sneakers are a result of recycling water bottles

The shoe company, based in Austin, Texas, recently took its footwear sustainability goals a step further (pun intended) with a knit sneaker that's 100 percent the result of recycling water bottles. The shoe is a redesign from Suavs’ product line made out of recycled water bottles and 100 percent vegan materials. 

Suavs manufactures travel-friendly shoes that are comfortable and lightweight with a breathable fabric and flexible design. The new product line, branded The Legacy, is a high-top sneaker design that Suavs sells in three earthy colors. According to the company, the comfort and style of the shoes are not sacrificed for sustainability, and the fabric is breathable, sweat-wicking and “ultra-soft.” 

Starting this year, Suavs says all of its shoes will be made with this fully recyclable material. 

"Our customer feedback on comfort and style is so positive, we thought what more can we do to hold ourselves accountable in working our way towards decreasing our carbon footprint and becoming a more conscious brand?” said Suavs CEO Monxi Garza in a public statement. “I'm thrilled to introduce our new 100 percent recycled knit fabric to Suavs customers and look forward to more ways we can become more environmentally friendly in the new decade."

A small step for circularity

An estimated one million water bottles are sold every minute around the world, according various sources including Rothy’s, a sustainable footwear company that also uses recycled water bottles in its shoe production. Of those, a staggering 91 percent are not recycled, leaving mountains of water bottles destined for the landfill. 

The shoe sustainability efforts of Rothy’s and Suavs are one solution for the growing piles of single used plastics including disposable water bottles. An average of eight water bottles are used in each pair of Suavs’ The Legacy, according to the website

These shoes represent to what Suavs says is the company’s commitment to a “low or negative” carbon footprint, with more sustainability upgrades to come. The footwear company says it will also:

  • Use sustainable materials for all new and current Suavs styles by the mid-2020s
  • Reduce material waste in production
  • Reduce shipping waste by making shoe boxes that can be for shipping to customers and returns 
  • Use 100 percent vegan materials 
  • Donate unsold products to charities like Soles4Souls

More footwear brands are using sustainable materials

Sustainability is becoming more entrenched in shoe design and manufacturing, and other companies have caught on fast. The efforts are going beyond recycling water bottles. Last year, Adidas rolled out a new shoe called Futurecraft.Loop that was manufactured out of a single recyclable material. Nike focused more on reducing material waste in shoe production by creating a puzzle-like design for a new shoe, the Atsuma.

Plant-based ingredients aren’t just making the headlines in the food industry; recently Sanuk, a shoe company headquartered in California, released a water-resistant shoe made from a natural rubber from forests in Guatemala. And start-up natural shoe company Allbirds is still manufacturing their Wool Runners design made out of wool, sugar and wood that the company first released in 2016. 

And what about Rothy’s, the shoe sustainability company working to divert water bottles from the landfill? So far, Rothy's says it has reused over 37 million plastic bottles to create sustainable thread that is knitted in the shoes. Rothy’s shoes also have other eco-friendly features, including recycled foam insoles, sustainable outsoles, and merino wool sourced from a sustainable sheep farm. 

Image credit: Suavs/Facebook

Debra Born headshot

Debra is a writer and public relations professional based in Upstate New York. Her other interests include graphic design, photography, nature and animals. You can find her on LinkedIn

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