EcoSneakers has been serving as one of the leading experts on sports sustainability in the country with their line of recycled shoe wear, and the company is looking to expand its work in the new year.
Created by founder/president Bobby Johnson, EcoSneakers is a passion project that is a result of Johnson experiencing poverty while growing up in Paris, Kentucky. Having been shoeless at times, Johnson’s passion for developing shoes for others came naturally.
With a model to change communities “one sole at a time,” EcoSneakers has various initiatives aimed at providing vulnerable communities with shoes all while keeping the environment safe and healthy. Through a process of recycling shoes and creating sustainable, reusable materials, EcoSneakers helps those in need while also tackling the climate crisis and creating jobs globally.
“As we collect shoes, we create jobs throughout the nation for all ages, especially youth, who are employed to sort, clean, and get sneakers ready for distribution,” Johnson told BLACK ENTERPRISE. “Globally, our process provides economic opportunity to small business owners of other countries.”
Not only do the sustainable shoes help communities in the States, but they’re also shipped to cities across the globe.
“Once the sneakers are sorted, shoes that are not usable here are sent to vetted exporters of developing nations who purchase them for a nominal fee,” Johnson explained. “Small business owners in those nations create microenterprises by hiring people to clean, repair and sort shoes. This helps to lift those communities out of poverty and gives them access to affordable shoes.”
Johnson further explains why EcoSneakers such an important initiative for the environment.
“Sneakers are manufactured with harmful chemicals that are released into the environment. They are also disposed of in harmful ways, such as incineration or dumping them in landfills, which exposes our environment to these toxic chemicals,” Johnson told BLACK ENTERPRISE.
He continues, “For a cleaner and safer environment, recycling sneakers is a necessary option. 2257 gallons of water goes into creating 1 pair of sneakers. Thus, you can see that when we collect and recycle sneakers, we are changing the carbon footprint exponentially. To date, we’ve repurposed over 400,000 pairs of sneakers to homeless people, disaster victims, people in other countries. As we move forward with our own recycling, they’ll be an even larger impact.”
To continue its efforts, EcoSneakers is looking to continue and expand two of its initiatives into the new year.
“One of our goals is to continue our “Athletes and Celebrities Gone Green” initiative. We hope to mobilize 2,022 partners to get behind this opportunity,” Johnson said.
He’s also looking to launch the Eco-Grind initiative aimed at using the process of upcycling to create its line of eco-friendly shoes.
“With Eco-Grind, we are closing the loop and upcycling unwearable sneakers into reusable products and materials such as filling for bean bags, stuffed animals, and raw materials for carpet padding,” Johnson said.
“Because Upcycling is a smarter way to both create more jobs as well as save Earth’s precious resources, EcoSneakers.Org is fully committed in 2022.”