A new sandal-making process harvests the waste of one shoe and makes it into another.
Flecks of color dot the outsole of a new sandal from KEEN. The flip-flop provides a visual cue of its making, revealing recycled material that otherwise would have ended up in a landfill.
Instead of throwing it out, the Portland-based footwear brand grinds used rubber and foam and adds it into a slurry. Out the other end, at a factory KEEN owns in Leon, Mexico, come the most environmentally responsible flip-flops KEEN has made.
KEEN Harvest Flip: A New Kind of Eco Flip-Flop
It might stand as the most eco-friendly sandal on the entire market. The Harvest Flip has webbing woven from used plastic bottles, a midsole made partially with recycled polyurethane, and a footbed with an anti-odor treatment that uses probiotics instead of pesticides.
I got a firsthand look at the sandal a few months ago at KEEN’s headquarters. The company gave me a tour while I was in town, and the Harvest Flip was among multiple products coming to the market with sustainability as a primary goal.
The company notes the Harvest Flip is a “commitment to conscious design,” and that it was launched as part of an effort to implement a “more circular” manufacturing process. That means more recycled materials, utilization of waste pieces from factory floors, and other processes that aim to make manufacturing sustainable.
KEEN explained the Harvest Flip process like this: “Rather than dumping the waste into a landfill, KEEN collects it and grinds it up into small pellets, which are then mixed and melted into existing materials in order to drastically reduce the amount of new materials required to make a shoe.”
Recycled Rubber, Handmade Design
The outsole contains recycled rubber that in the hand (and on the foot) is soft and pliable. It has a handmade feel, which, indeed, it is; at the Leon factory, the company notes that its “talented zapateros” make the sandals one at a time.
Take a look at the Harvest Flip if you need a new set of sandals for this summer. It comes in men’s and women’s designs for $70. The Harvest Flip is a quality product with an eco backstory we can get behind.
Learn more about KEEN’s sustainability initiatives here.