|Vivienne Westwood Skyscraper design|
Sunday, 23 October 2011
Forget cardboard compactors. These days jumping on your used pizza boxes in killer heels is the way to go to for adding extra sex appeal to recycling. Especially if you're wearing zero waste shoes.
Okay, I jest. I know I like to entertain my friends but the only way these shoes would add such glamour to my recycling activities is in carrying my feet towards my kitchen bin! Performing star jumps in high heels just to crush old boxes is a little far fetched, even for me.
However, the zero waste aspect of these shoes isn't. They're one of the latest designs to come out from Melissa, a Brazilian based shoe manufacturer that prides itself not just on great design and ethical policies but on zero waste operations too. Not only does the factory recycle its waste water, but any excess material used in its current collection gets recycled into the next season's shoes.
Melissa shoes, made from its mono-material MelFlex (apparently a toxin-free adaptation of PVC, developed from bio-engineered and recovered plastics) have emerged as one of the darlings of the eco-style world and have become popular with vegans and the eco-conscious alike. They even come with the promise that they can be 100% recycled. And I admit I too have fallen for them this season. Thanks to a friend bringing them to my attention, I was quickly seduced by a pair of Vivien Westwood heels especially designed for Melissa's Anglomania range,
Yes I admit, they add that special "je-ne-sais-quoi" never witnessed by my wardrobe in recent years and their comfort will hopefully ensure they remain a key item for many decades to come. However, despite my love of having shoes that have been made via zero waste production, I feel it fair to dispell the promise of a zero waste nirvana when it comes to recycling such items in the UK.
Just because a shoe is made from a single material that says it can be recycled, it doesn't mean it can be easily recycled. The Melissa range is the only collection of shoes I know that have a recycling triangle on them, (revealing type 3 for PVC), however in the UK, the municipal collection of this type of material is not particularly widespread. With that said, it is a sector that is currently being met by major research and development in Europe and eco-efficient collection and recycling processes, which replace less sustainable ways of managing such waste, should see much improvement over the next decade thanks to the development of voluntary agreements such as Vinylplus.
The recyclability may be marketed as a selling point when it comes to the end of a shoe's life. However as any "zero waster" should know, it's the product maintenance and reuse aspects that are the most obvious solutions to enjoying an item and managing its life-span post use.
As with anything, post-consumer recycling is just one consideration when making a purchase, but commitment to longevity and an ethical manufacturing process should be high on the agenda too, and for those reasons I think I'm going to enjoy my relationship with my Melissa shoes for many years to come.
I really was joking about jumping up and down on pizza boxes. I think these shoes are more suited to moments of enjoying cocktails and wine.
And of course, the closest they will ever come to a recycling centre, is if a touch of glamour is needed when recycling the empties.
More information about the Melissa shoe range can be found at www.melissa.com.br/en, supplemented by a wealth of reviews appearing in Eco magazines that include Ecosalon, Dare2Magazine and The Ecologist.