These fashionable shoes are made from ocean plastic

Sustainability |  2 min. read

Those who preach about the need to reduce ocean litter can now walk the talk — literally.

They can slip on a pair of Rothy’s, which makes trendy flats and shoes from recycled plastic water bottles.

In addition to shoes, Rothy’s also makes fashionable bags using plastic collected within 30 miles of coastlines and marine environments. Since materials in marine plastics are weakened by ocean saltwater, Rothy’s bags also include traditional recycled plastic. That’s to make them durable. Rothy says all its products are machine washable.

Plastic has countless useful applications, from food storage to sporting equipment to life-saving medical devices. They become a problem, of course, when they become litter. According to the Ocean Conservancy, eight million metric tons of plastic are estimated to enter the ocean every year. Companies like Rothy’s are trying to reverse the trend. Since launching in 2016, Rothy’s has turned over 60 million plastic water bottles into a sustainable resource.

That resource, by the way, originally comes from petrochemicals — produced from either petroleum or natural gas.  Plastic bottles, for instance, are often made from PET (polyethylene terephthalate), which is made from petrochemicals, ethylene and xylene. 

Rothy’s isn’t alone in its endeavor to find uses for recycled water bottles. The bottles are being used to make long-lasting chairs, ski gear and car seats. In several countries, they’re used as an ingredient in pavement for aging roads.

Some industries are going a step further – molecular recycling is a fast-advancing method that breaks down plastic products to their original chemical building blocks, which can then be repurposed for countless applications, from 3D-printed organs to fuel for your car.

So Rothy’s isn’t necessarily walking an unchartered path, but it’s an important one. Their shoes are made for walking, but they’re also made to clean up the ocean. And apparently that’s just what they’ll do.


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