Minimalist footwear brand awarded score putting them alongside Allbirds and Veja, but declare regenerative business is the only way to regenerate the health of people and planet
(Left: ReVivo shoes are reconditioned to avoid landfill, Right: A worker in the Soul of Africa social enterprise factory, Ethiopia)
LONDON – 2nd SEPTEMBER, 2020 – Global barefoot footwear company Vivobarefoot was today awarded B Corp certification, but declared this was only the start of their journey to become a wholly regenerative business.
The London-based brand was given a score of 98.8 by Certified B Corporation, which puts them alongside brands such as Veja (84.2), Allbirds (89.4) and TOMS (96.3). B Corp certification guarantees that a business is measuring its environmental and social impact and B Corps commit to transparency by publishing their score online.
However, whilst many brands see B Corp status as the ultimate end goal and vindication, Vivobarefoot’s wider regenerative mission means they will use this certification to help show that there is a better way for businesses to operate and, as a result, demand change amongst the footwear industry which produces 25bn pairs of shoes a year, with 90% ending up in landfill, often within 12 months of purchase.
Vivobarefoot is leading the way in this area, having recently launched the world’s first footwear re-commerce site called ReVivo which allows returned shoes to be reconditioned and put on sale at a lower price point in order to prevent the shoes from being sent off to landfill.
Vivobarefoot co-founder and CEO Galahad Clark says: “Our industry is full of corporate greenwashing and needs to be radically redefined. Footwear brands across the world are too focused on unrealistic profit lines and doing what they think is as little harm as possible at the same time. We believe there is a better way to operate a business.
“Making more ‘sustainable’ shoes out of more ‘sustainable’ materials to minimise negative impact isn’t going to cut it, especially when so many of these shoes have no end-of-life purpose and will end up in landfill. That’s why our starting point isn’t shoe making at all: It is bare-foot-wear; scientifically proven to regenerate and restore our physical health and our constant development of new manufacturing processes and materials, we believe, can help us become regenerative, not sustainable.
“Whilst we have a serious amount of work still to do to get there, we know that this is an important step on the journey.”
To support this, Vivobarefoot will also be launching a new 3D shoe-printing service in 2021, allowing consumers to purchase shoes which are made-to-order and bespoke to them, again reducing the number of shoes which need to be produced.
The brand also currently uses recycled plastic bottles in its Recycled range, as well as using bio-based materials such as Susterra Propanediol (a plant-derived, lightweight bio-polymer with incredible high performance) and algae bloom (which uses harmful algae taken out of the world’s waterways) in its Bio range.
Whilst these initiatives showcase the way the company thinks about the environment, they also scored highly on their ethical processes, including the support given to a social enterprise factory in Ethiopia which creates shoes for their Soul of Africa range. Workers in the factory are paid a fair wage in a country with no set minimum wage and are offered the opportunity to learn new life skills at the same time, a model which Clark would like to see rolled out across the industry.
They also support small-scale independent farmers in Africa by using leather from them in their Natural range, which is a by-product of the meat industry.
Emma Hamilton-Foster, Vivobarefoot’s Regenerative Sustainability Director, has already overseen a drastic reduction in the amount of people in their supply chain, as well as reduced the number of materials in their footwear and she has called for all businesses to reconsider their approach to sustainability:
“Sustainability has become a buzzword and tick box exercise for many brands and is a distraction on what genuinely needs to be done to stop us destroying ourselves and our planet. Many brands are also falling into the trap of the great carbon distraction and thinking that this is enough on their part. We are calling on people everywhere to stop accepting sustainability greenwashing and start demanding radical action to address the very real problems we know that regenerative leadership can fix.”