Shoes Suck

Shoes Suck

No, we aren’t just talking about those wedge-sneaker things that were popular in 2012—we’re talking about the best shoes you own. The ones you still keep in the dust bag, the ones that are probably too valuable to wear in humidity. Yeah, those ones. They’re actually the worst. We’ll explain.

Even the best-looking shoes are made up of a ton of gross stuff, like virgin plastic, untraceable leather, and chemical treatments that aren’t great for the planet, or your feet.

Leather traceability sucks

Leather is tough on the environment and difficult to trace. We’re making it less mysterious by knowing 100% of the farms that our sources’ sources’ sources source from, four steps into our supply chain, making it easier to hold our partners accountable.

Leather processing sucks

Like she said, processing leather is water and chemical-intensive. When not managed properly, those chemicals pollute our waterways, which is harmful to the communities and ecosystems that depend on them. We’re making it suck less by working only with Leather Working Group Gold and Silver-rated tanneries, to ensure super high quality water usage and treatment, and top-notch chemical management practices.

Leather alternatives sucks

Clearly leather can really suck, but so can its alternatives. “Vegan leather” is basically just a fancy marketing way of saying plastic. That’s why we’re using a leather alternative that’s USDA biopreferred, which means it’s made mostly of natural stuff like cereals and grains. It uses the lowest amount of virgin plastic we could find, but it’s not perfect, so we’re teaming up with the Materials Innovation Initiative to push plastic-free leather alternatives forward.

Plastic sucks

You probably already know that fossil fuel-based plastic is bad–it’s a non-renewable material that can account for more than 50% of a shoe’s weight. Plus, it lasts a really long time, which means plastic-filled shoes sit in landfills for centuries. Our shoes use 75% less virgin plastic than conventional ones, and we’re using bio-based and recycled alternatives wherever possible.

Waste sucks

Since shoes contain so many materials, they can’t all go one place, so there’s virtually no way to recycle them. That’s why we’ve created a brand new take-back program to recycle 100% of the shoes we make. This allows us to save old footwear from landfills and turn it into new, useful stuff. Our ultimate goal is to create a closed-loop system where we make new Ref Shoes directly from old ones.

To sum it up—shoes suck. But our shoes suck less.

→ Shop Ref Shoes