Editor’s Note: This feature was made possible by our friends at SOLE
When I was growing up, I only ever wore flip flops that cost about $5. Now, of course, I have moved on and could be accurately described as a flip-flop connoisseur. Back then, though, I’d buy the cheapest ones on the rack, then I’d wear them until the soles blew out and the bread-bag clips holding the straps onto the soles were worn down to paper thinness, which, since they were the cheapest on the rack, was usually about a week. Then I’d throw them in the trash, where they would vanish into a landfill full of other foam and plastic things, and go buy another pair. But then I learned that there are other options. Options that don’t turn your feet into raging infernos of pain and suffering. Options that aren’t adding to the disastrous environmental cesspool we’ve created. Options like SOLE, a Canadian footwear brand founded in 2001 that is determined to create positive change for people and the planet.
“SOLE exists to create products that have radical positive impacts on people’s lives by caring for the very foundation of their bodies: their feet,” SOLE explained. “To stay true to our purpose of improving people’s lives, it’s crucial to care for the planet where those lives are lived. We consider our environmental impact in every step, and prioritize pioneering eco-friendly materials to lead our industry and communities into a more sustainable tomorrow.”
ReCork, as the name implies, is recycled cork. And cork, as you probably know, is a far better for the environment than traditional synthetic foams used in most flip flops. Cork is the bark of the cork oak tree, which is generally harvested by hand once a decade or so. The tree isn’t cut down in the process, and every bit of the cork is used.
“Wine corks are stamped out, used as bottle stoppers and recycled by businesses and individuals,” SOLE said. “The trimmings are ground down and mixed with the recycled wine corks to create ReCORK Recycled Cork.”
The other material SOLE uses, BLOOM Algae Foam, is an interesting bit of science. Used a few years ago in Kelly Slater’s traction pads, the foam is literally made with algae. Since human-induced changes to environments can lead to algae growing in rampant, harmful blooms that stifle and damage natural ecosystems, BLOOM realized they could harvest this harmful algae, dry it, and turn it into a biomass that’s perfect for creating eco-friendly, high-performance foams for footwear.
SOLE recently sent me a few pairs to try and as somewhat of a flip-flop connoisseur, I’m not lying when I say they’re some of the most comfortable flip flops I’ve ever put on my feet. They’ve got wear-moldable cushioning in the footbeds so they get even more comfortable as you wear them. They feature something called a Met Pad, which gives solid metatarsal support and increases comfort and circulation in the front of the foot. The heel cups are wildly deep, which repositions the natural padding under the heel bone and helps prevent that annoying lateral heel slip that routinely comes with other, lower quality flip flops. They weigh almost nothing and have water-friendly synthetic leather straps, an obvious must-have when it comes to flip flops.
If you’re a person who wears flip flops a lot (which, if you’re lucky, you are), SOLE’s sandals will fit the bill. The company is doing exactly what they set out to do all the way back in 2001: take care of your feet while taking care of the planet we all walk around on.
See SOLE’s Men’s collection here and the Women’s collection here. Get $10 off plus free shipping when you sign up for email updates with a free loyalty account. Follow along on Facebook and Instagram, too.