Pale, porous and 3D-printed: inside the weird and wonderful quest to make compostable shoes

The Guardian | Sustainable footwear is at a complicated crossroads. As one of the more complex fashion products to produce, shoes often pose recycling challenges and usually end up in landfills. For an article exploring more sustainable design practices for footwear, The Guardian interviewed Quantis Italy’s Fashion + Sporting Goods Lead Luca Mosca.

“Glue and other binding materials can make shoes difficult to recycle, even when new substances are used for their main components, such as cactus ‘leather’ – a material made from the leaves of the nopal cactus – and grape-skin derivatives, says Luca Mosca, fashion lead at the sustainability consultancy Quantis. He says it is still hard to say what constitutes an environmentally friendly shoe, and that consumers should use them for as long as possible.”

“‘We have to look into all stages of a product lifecycle, the materials within the product. Here, there are a lot of differences: it could be a performance-driven shoe mostly made of synthetics, or a casual shoe made of leather. Then you need to look at the environmental performance of the materials and the production processes of putting the shoes together. Last but not least, you must look at how it will be treated at the end of life. Shoes are very complicated products,’ says Mosca.”

Brands need to explore alternative materials as part of the shift away from the status quo. But to ensure they truly add sustainable value, science must guide their decision-making.

Share this article

Latest resources