It might not be apparent at first glance, but the footwear industry relies on plastic. Sure, materials used in shoes go by acronyms like TPU, PET, and EVA, but at the end of the day, they’re all plastic and they do all sorts of things like softening impact, locking in your feet, and keeping you stabilized in every stride. To put simply, plastic is important in shoes. Which is a problem, considering that plastic is one of the biggest environmental woes. The Veja Condor is an attempt to break from plastic’s strangehold.
Billed as “post-petroleum shoes,” these perfomance runners don’t exactly do away with virgin plastic. Instead, they seek to cut down on its use, so the shoe is built with a mix of bio-based materials, recycled plastics, virgin plastics, and rubber. We know, that’s not exactly doing away with plastic, but using as much bio-based materials and recycled parts do make for a good first attempt at a more sustainable footwear.
The Veja Condor has a mesh upper cut in recycled polyester made from plastic bottles, while the signature V logo is made from castor oil, a vegetable oil that is pressed from castor beans. Inside, it has a liner cut in a blend of the same recycled polyester and organic cotton, with the latter likely providing the necessary softness to keep things comfortable, as well as an insole that’s cut from a mix of EVA foam, jute, wild rubber, recycled polyester, and recycled EVA scraps.
The outsole uses a mix of wild rubber, synthetic rubber, and rice husk, in a blend that, the outfit claims, they’ve found to be both light and firm, all while being durable enough to hold up to a couple years of use. Sandwiched between the outsole and the upper is the midsole, which is made from a 55-45 blend of regular EVA foam and a bio-based foam manufactured from banana oil, rice husk, and sugarcane. Other elements include TPU panels and heel support made from ricinus oil.
The Veja Condor isn’t meant to be a hardcore running shoe, by the way. Instead, it’s designed as a shoe that you can use for regular workouts – the kind you’ll wear to the gym, the spin class, or the daily morning run. According to the outfit, it can also be worn for long runs, as it’s comfortable, supportive, and durable enough for that, although it’s not quite going to give the necessary performance for marathons and other endurance runs.
How significant is this shoe in the drive to move away from petroleum? It’s a small effort in the grand scheme of things, especially considering all the big brands like Adidas, Nike, and Reebok have also released similar projects. We do like the fact that footwear makers are looking for alternatives to the industry’s overreliance on plastic, though, since these early efforts should pave the way for future innovations in the same space.
The Veja Condor is available in six colorways, priced at €130.