Mission progress report 2018-2019
We’re on a journey to reconnect people and the planet through feet.
FOLLOW YOUR FEET, NOT THE RULES…
Health and sustainability are in the foundations of Vivobarefoot: we have always believed the health of people is intimately connected to the health of the planet.
The closer people are to nature, the more likely they will work to protect it.
The only excuse for filling the world up with more ‘stuff’ is to produce products or experiences that positively impact at least one of these three areas – and Vivobarefoot, almost uniquely, does all three:
This is our first Mission Progress Report giving a few insights from our journey over the last year to create a world with less padding, more feeling.
Despite the health enhancing products we make, we are still a long long way from perfect - in fact we are quite a long way behind some of the big companies in certain supply chain sustainability respects: our chemical testing is only at the beginning stages, our control of the 1st and 2nd tier supply chains are minimally audited, despite strong codes of conduct, and our journey to zero waste through the supply chain is just beginning! As this report is published, there are virtually no end of life solutions for our shoes... (yet, we look forward to some exciting new circular initiatives in 2020) and our packing and supply chain logistics have plenty of room for improvement. We’ve hired an awesome team backed up by world leading consultants to address these issues and look forward to further embedding health and sustainability into the heart of the Vivobarefoot organisation – a never ending journey of minimising the impact of our products both on humans and the planet we all tread.
Founder and CEO
WE LEARN AND IMPROVE WITH EVERY SHOE WE MAKE.
SO THIS IS JUST THE BEGINNING.
RECONNECTING PEOPLE AND THE PLANET
WE STAND FOR RECONNECTION - TO THE GROUND, TO THE NATURAL WORLD AND TO COMMUNITIES AROUND THE WORLD
WE'VE BEEN TRAPPED IN THE WRONG SHOE SHAPES FOR DECADES AND PICKED UP A LOT OF BAD MOVEMENT (AND NON-MOVEMENT) HABITS. HEALTHY NATURAL CHANGE IS GOING TO TAKE A LOT OF EDUCATION BACKED UP BY SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH.
We released a documentary, ‘Shoespiracy' to raise awareness of the barefoot journey. The documentary sheds light on a Shoe Shape public health scandal.
WATCH IT NOW
DOCUMENTARY VIEWS: 1.5 Million
We are actively supporting: Liverpool University (Dr. Kris D’Aout), Northumberland University (Dr. Mic Wilkinson), Institute of Technology Carlow, Department of Science and Health (Dr. Peter Francis), Ghent University (Dr. Catherine Willems) and Harvard University (Dr. Irene Davis) to better understand the foot, how we use it, and how to make the best shoe that balances protection with utility and health.
Dr. D’Aout with PhD student Rory Curtis looked at the fundamental question: do barefoot designs improve your foot?
Preliminary results, say yes, the researcher shows a 60 percent improvement in foot strength after 6 months of wearing barefoot shoes!
In 2018/19 we continued to educate people on healthy natural movement with support from Dr. Rangan Chatterjee, Foot Collective, Move U and many others.
Having built a network of 150 coaches around the world, and developed The Barefoot Journey, a self-diagnosing digital tool, we are proud to have helped thousands of people start their transition back to strong feet, and to enjoy moving again.
We are committed to inspiring people to move more (in our case, in our active shoes) and enabling amazing events and natural experiences, as well as taking inspiration from nature to encourage natural movement.
In 2018/19, Vivobarefoot continued its international sponsorship of the ÖtillÖ Swimrun Series, sponsoring 30 swimruns around the world. To cater to this group of athletes, we developed the ultimate Swimrun shoes.
In addition, back in the UK, we held the second annual Vivobarefoot retreat in Bantham, Devon with a truly epic Swimrun and series of inspiring talks and activities for our community.
The VVagon is our way of sharing the Vivobarefoot life. The Vivobarefoot Vvagon, a transportable, pop-up experiential space began a tour of the UK in April 2019 offering advice on healthy movement and living more sustainably.
We created the Vvagon in collaboration with Studio Hardie (of George Clark’s Amazing Spaces) using sustainable natural materials and biophilic principles. Powered by solar, the Vvagon is off-the-grid and has thoughtful touches like a roof made of recycled non-toxic rubber. We’ve even offset its mileage.
A hub for community, movement and education the Vvagon on a mission to find a happier and healthier person, community and planet.
Visitors to the Vvagon: 3.5K
shoes: less padding, more feeling
"We believe that the perfect shoe has minimal interference with natural movement and minimal impact on the environment. Barefoot shoe making is sustainable shoe making, in that it's about making shoes that are healthy for you and ultimately need to be healthy for the planet. Materials are only part of the challenge but every little helps on the journey to make less.... shoe."
- Asher Clark, Design Director
Dedicated to creating products for people to experience nature to the fullest.
Dedicated to active lifestyles.
Wear barefoot shoes daily, doing whatever it is you do.
Barefoot kids grow up healthier and smarter.
Made by indigenous cobblers in Namibia and India.
highlights of our shoes
NATURE HAS THE BEST TECHNOLOGY.
The goal: 100 percent “sustainable” materials by 2020. That means we turn algae, corn, and all kinds of plant bits into shoes, in addition to recycled plastics and wild leather hides, leftover from the food industry.
Yes, the stuff choking waterways and clogging coastlines around the world.
Red tides explained - National Geographic Toxic Algae Blooms - The New York Times
The Ultra Bloom, our first algae-based shoe, debuted in 2017. It’s a great substitute for EVA, or the foam used in most athletic shoes.
Each pair also removes about 25 balloons worth of CO2 from the atmosphere, working directly to offset greenhouse gasses and helping to clean up waterways for the wildlife that calls them home.
In 2019, we produced Primus Bio made with “susterra propanediol” – AKA the leftovers of the corn industry. Corn is processed and the glucose within the corn kernels is separated and processed, resulting in a pliable, resilient material that’s made entirely from a plant source.
Every pair uses 42 percent less energy than petroleum products and generates 56 percent less greenhouse gas emissions.
Yes, we use leather. But it’s predominantly the Wild Hide, naturally scarred leather that is fully a by-product of the local food industry in Edjersa, Ethiopia. Small-scale farmers sell their hides to Pittards Tannery in Edjersa. Pittards Ethiopia tannery conforms to ISO 14001, which is an international standard for environmental management and has its own treatment plant on site to ensure effective waste water management. Pittards participates in the Green Tanning Initiative (GTI), a program for sustainability with EU sponsored NGO initiatives, and maintains strict sourcing policies.
Leather breaks down in 25 to 50 years. It’s not plastic. It doesn’t last forever and that’s why we use it. We get that livestock produce their own slew of issues, and hope that one day, people consume less meat. Till then, we give the hides a new purpose, instead of just dumping them in a landfill. We’ve done the same with camel hides.
Vegan doesn’t always mean sustainable. Vegan shoes can be made of virgin polyester to avoid leather. Instead we opt for recycled materials. 50 percent of Vivo’s vegan shoes are made of recycled poly. Plastic bottles don’t need to go into the ocean or to landfill. They’re highly recyclable and we’d like to keep them out of the gyres in the Atlantic and Pacific.
soul of africa
Meet the Soul of Africa range made in Ethiopia, the cradle of humanity.
Every pair of the Soul of Africa range is made to celebrate natural movement and the rich culture of the continent: they feature Laetoli footprints and help us make a connection to our ancestors who walked the Earth with minimum protection on their feet to allow maximum freedom of movement.
Carrying the "Proudly Made in Africa" label, these shoes are made with local materials and their proceeds go back to supporting community projects in Ethiopia.
PEOPLE EMPLOYED: ~100
£ DONATION FOR COMMUNITY PROJECTS: £30K
“I am passionate about helping and supporting my community to fight poverty through education, training and creating jobs. So far, we have created jobs for 1500 people here in Ethiopia through glove making, leather production and shoemaking, and we are determined to sustain and grow our operations”
- Tsedenia Mekbib, Head of the Ethiopian Production, Pittards.
Future footwear foundation
Asher and Galahads' family have been cobblers for six generations. After meeting Dr. Catherine Willems and joining the Future Footwear Foundation, they were introduced to indigenous designs, and cobbler households that have been practicing the art for thousands of years.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE FUTURE FOUNDATION
This year, Dr Catherine Willems launched a book, “Do You Want Your Feet Back?” with Els Roeland (co-editor) and Thomas Nolf (Master’s student at KASK, Belgium). The book presents a refreshing and much-needed vision of anthropology, craftsmanship, and design, clearly depicting the integrated roles of artisans, scientists, and industry partners.
BOOKS SOLD: 5K
SHOES: 1K pairs of Indigenous-made sandals
COMMUNITIES INVOLVED: Ju/’hoan San People of the Kalahari in Namibia,
Kolhapuri and Juttee artisans in India, Saami artisans in Finland
"What makes Catherine Willems’ work on “Future Footwear” so appealing is its promise to leapfrog more than 150 years of industrialization, with all its attendant afflictions—environmental destruction, depletion of natural resources, extreme global inequality—and bring us straight into a cleaner and fairer future, while taking cues from ancient knowledge and craft. ”
- Christine De Baan
LEARN ABOUT THE JU/'HOAN SAN AND FUTURE FOOTWEAR PROJECT