Here’s a fun fact for you: did you know that sheep outnumber humans 6 to 1 in New Zealand? Yep, the stereotype is true! Here’s another fun fact for you: did you know that there’s a shoe brand that is ethically and sustainably sourcing this wool to make high quality footwear? Yep, and their name is Allbirds.
Okay, story time. A (super cool) guy called Tim Brown grew up in New Zealand, so he was always aware of the qualities and uses of merino wool. He became curious as to why there was such an under-utilisation of this versatile, sustainable resource in the footwear industry, so he teamed up with Joey Zwillinger (another super cool guy) to create a wool fabric made specifically for footwear. Voila, Allbirds was born. Boy, are we glad it was.
Allbirds is a company that makes shoes from all natural materials and has a drive “to create better things in a better way.” There’s also no trace of any naughty plastics in the shoes because they are determined produce sustainable footwear alternatives by building on materials that already exist. They also have FSC Certification, which basically means: 1) they source materials that meet meticulous standards to protect the environment, animals, and people, and 2) they’re just a super epic brand. They’ve even invented their own revolutionary shoe soles and fabric. How good is all of that?
Merino wool, sugarcane, and tree fibres are the three main fabrics used in Allbirds footwear. Here’s why:
The abundance of sheep in New Zealand means the process to create merino wool uses 60% less energy than materials needed to make synthetic shoes.
At 20% the diameter of human hair, merino wool is the perfect fibre to create breathable, temperature regulating, wicking fabric without the irritating scratchiness.
The sheep the wool is collected from “live the good life”. Allbirds work with leading organisations like ZQ Merino to ensure their wool is held to high standards of farming, land management, and animal welfare.
Sugarcane is incredibly self-sufficient; so much so that when it’s processed its biomass is extracted to power the mill and fertilise the following year’s crop.
The sugarcane Allbirds use is sourced in southern Brazil, where it relies not on irrigation but on rainwater.
Allbirds’ sugarcane is transformed into their SweetFoam shoe sole, where it moulds to your foot and provides a bouncy level of comfort.
Tree fibres give the fabric a silky, smooth texture.
They are a renewable material, which means they will naturally be replenished back into the environment.
Think Allbirds couldn’t get any greener? Think again! On top of this, each pair of laces is made from one recycled plastic bottle, castor bean oil is used to make the bio-foam interior of the shoe and the bio-nylon anchors of the straps, and their packaging is made from 90% recycled cardboard. Also, because they recognise that the environment has as much of an importance as a stakeholder, Allbirds are a certified B Corp business.
So, if you’ve been looking to up your shoe game, head over to the Allbirds website to take a look at their incredible full range. They’re made with some pretty epic materials, and they haven’t been called “the world’s most comfortable shoe” for no reason. The packaging they use is 90% post-consumer recycled cardboard, so no harm will come to the environment in their journey to you.