I’m currently in Singapore, and whilst the show gets up and running and I get to grips with being on tour again, I thought I’d spend the next few posts talking about some new items I’m travelling with this time around. I’ll be posting about things I’m discovering on the road too, but lets give me a few days to settle in first ey!
So today I wanted to talk about Birkenstocks. These guys went from being the lamest shoes in town to the sandal everyone wants, and I resisted for a long time, not wanting to jump on a trend bandwagon for no reason. However when my last (and only) pair of sandals literally snapped in half a week ago I realised that I needed to get something that would last a long time, and I needed to get it fast. While I doubt Birkenstocks are the most ethical shoe on the planet by a long shot, I thought I’d fill you in on their ethical policies as they are often the easiest alternative to get in a rush, and they’re not half bad. Let’s talk about my top reasons why.
Birkenstocks are well known for how long they last. My old sandals were a fast fashion buy (pre the sustainable fashion days) and barely lasted a year, Birkenstocks can last for several as their materials are designed to be durable and long lasting. They can also be repaired, you can drop them at one of the company’s store locations or mail them in to be repaired, meaning one investment in a pair of these sandals can majorly reduce the chance of going through multiple pairs in the same timeframe. Zero waste credentials = pretty good.
The Birkenstock footbed contains cork and natural latex, both of which are renewable and non toxic materials. They also use water-soluble and solvent free adhesives almost exclusively, with around 95% of their adhesives being environmentally friendly at the moment. The soles are made from EVA which is vinyl, but much better than PVC. Their packaging is made from 90% recycled material, and is designed to meet Germany’s strict standards. Whilst most shoes are made with leather, they do also carry a range of alternative options for vegans.
Birkenstocks are manufactured exclusively in Germany, so they must adhere to strict labour laws as well as recycling and waste laws. This means that all shoes are made under ethical conditions with as little waste as possible. Excess leather is used in the production of other materials; leftover EVA is used for children’s playgrounds, sport fields and sound barriers along freeways.
Birkenstock also look for ways to be more energy efficient, using in house development of equipment and advancement of production techniques to continually do research in this area, claiming to have reduced their energy consumption by over 90% over the years. The examples they give of decreased energy consumption are:
– Improvements in the field of our large leather punches, which now require only approx. 10% of the electric power of regular punches.
– Implementation of our own environment-friendly power generating plants.
– Three large combined heat and power plants.
They also use combined heat and power process to recapture generated heat and reuse it, for example heat is used for drying cork footbeds.
Ok, Birkenstocks aren’t perfect. It’s difficult to find lengthy information in terms of their sustainability or social responsibility, and their use of animal products does make them less eco friendly than other options out there (and they’re not a wholly cruelty free brand of course). But if, like me, you’re in a slightly desperate situation and don’t have time for online ordering, they’re a pretty good option compared to other high street alternatives. I’m most excited about their longevity and durability, with two months on the road I think these guys will serve me well.
Until next time, stay magic y’all.
Audrey & Pearl
Thank you for this article. I am surprsed they also have vegan alternatives, that is great! We really like your blog and Instagram.
Love from Prague.
Great post! I didn’t know this about the Birkenstocks and when thinking about the high street options of many shoes these do seem a much more sustainable version than many others!