From the start of our mission to create the ultimate sustainable shoes, our decision to use organic cotton and rubber was a no brainer. These durable and biodegradable materials, when crafted through our unique, natural production process, enabled us to conceive cradle to cradle vegan and leather trainers like no other.
We are proud to be partnering with nature by crafting our ethical shoes from compostable organic materials that can help to regenerate the soil at the beginning and the end of their lives.
Our philosophy of valuing people and planet over profit aligns perfectly with the organic approach. Organic agriculture is founded on the four pillars of health, ecology, care and fairness, and unlike many other production systems, it doesn’t prioritise profit above all else. Instead the organic ethos takes a balanced ‘whole system’ approach where the value of a product is more than just the price paid or income made.
We are passionate about making shoes that have a positive footprint - just one reason why we use organic materials. In organic farming and forestry chemical pesticides are eschewed in favour of natural alternatives including citronella, neem and clove oil. Organic producers nurture their soil with local, natural fertilisers such as manure and compost, and they adopt crop-rotation systems to maintain healthy, fertile ground.
Life on land flourishes when crops are cared for naturally. Fields and forests without chemicals are healthier habitats for wildlife and because synthetic fertilisers and pesticides are made of fossil fuels, organic alternatives help to reduce environmental pollution too.
At WAES we do everything we can to help protect our oceans, and using organic cotton and rubber in our vegan trainers is a step towards ensuring that we don’t contribute to water pollution. Each pair of shoes sold actively contributes to restoring our blue carbon via planting mangroves and kelp forests with the Sea Trees project.
But, before we think about giving back we also need to consider our extraction mentality and how we minimise our impact. According to the Soil Association ‘the nitrogen fertilisers used in conventional farming can create ‘ocean dead zones’ which deprive life below water of vital oxygen. This can kill fish and other aquatic life. Organic standards ban the use of these manufactured fertilisers, lowering the risk of pollution in rivers, seas and waterways.’
The organic cotton we’ve chosen for our eco trainers required around 90% less water to grow than conventional cotton and because organic cotton crops are usually rain-fed, we’re limiting contributions to water scarcity. Organic certification is only awarded to products that have been processed and manufactured according to certain environmental standards which include the use of biodegradable low-impact dyes and processing agents as well as the correct treatment of wastewater.
For our 100% natural shoes we have sourced both organic cotton and cotton that is certified organic by GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) meaning it is produced according to strict social criteria, as required by the International Labour Convention (ILO). These standards include no child labour, regular employment, payment of living wages and safe working conditions. This is in stark contrast to many non-organic methods that can have devastating impacts on the producers. Insects can become resistant to the heavy pesticide use in conventional cotton farming. More pesticides are required and that can cause pesticide poisoning and often drive cotton farmers into debt, even to suicide.
At WAES we champion the organic system because it safeguards farmer’s livelihoods by favouring chemical-free solutions that can be found on their farm. These natural fertilisers and pesticides like manure and neem leaf cost nothing to the farmers, saving them money and keeping their families and communities healthy.
It’s common for organic products to come with a higher price tag, but they are far more than a status symbol. The holistic method of organic production ensures that our sustainable trainers are created in a way that brings myriad benefits at every stage for farmers, foresters, producers, customers, brands and biodiversity.