Can we find sustainable solutions and how can we optimize the manufacturing process for the footwear industry?

Over 20 materials are used to make a pair of shoes. So how can we make a easier separation of components and making their disposal easily?
How can we reduce/reuse the waste from the manufacturing process in order to create a sustainable future?


Hi Alexandra, great to see you on the OSCE forum.

Here are some answers:

  1. Start at design: use minimum number of materials, use bio-based, biodegradable or long-lasting materials, create repair and disposal procedure as part of the shoe’s blueprint and retail label, use modular design (e.g. heels, accessories that can be inter-changed with many other models), keep it simple and fit for purpose (e.g. I need a shoe to walk, go to work or attend a show, not a walking advertisement thing or a glittery kitsch, like most sports shoes are, it is the latter that have caused the number of materials to increase exponentially)

  2. Influence the demand for sustainable, circular shoes by purchasing yourself, educate the retailers to offer and others to buy only repairable, long-lasting, simple, low or zero-waste shoes.

  3. Find people and organizations who can repurpose some of the materials, e.g. from leather one can make smaller size shoes or accessories or many other things, limited mostly by the lack of interest and imagination of the mass-produced, so called cheap shoe producers

  4. Order custom-made and hand-made shoes, there might still be in Romania a few of the craftspeople who knew how to do that. This way you choose everything about the shoe.

  5. No fossil-based plastic, no plastic in general…

Mult success la evenimentul din Iasi, astept sa il vad online.


Do you know more about this industry in Romania Sylvia? It is very interesting.

Hi Sharon, I would have to refresh my knowledge, but there were a lot of small businesses or coops offering custom-made clothes and shoes and not necessarily as luxury/snobbery/status seeking goods, which is unfortunately what drives 99% of the fashion industry everywhere. A waste of money and a wasting of our planet.

Our Romanian colleagues might know more about what is currently available in this space.

I will look around on my next trip to Romania and get back with some examples.

Until then, please check this French company (cannot find the English version, let me know if you need help). Their shoes use natural materials and are handmade by French artisans. They are committed to sustainability as a business.

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More inspiration for sustainable fashion events and projects:

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