The world’s departure from unsustainable practices and materials is a slow but steady one. While we remain grossly wasteful, there are some of us who are tackling the global waste issue with exceptional creativity, including creating a sneaker line made from used coffee beans.
Meet entrepreneurs Son Chu and Jesse Tran, owners of Rens Originals, the eco-friendly sneaker brand made entirely from used coffee grounds and recycled plastic bottles.
Coffee culture around the world is ever growing. The industry is estimated to be worth 20 billion dollars, with more than 2 billion cups of coffee consumed each day. All that coffee means mounds of beans being ground up and disposed as waste.
According to the Rens Originals site, the coffee industry produces 23 million tonnes of organic waste per year, with only 10% of this waste being reused.
And when it comes to the amount of plastic waste that exists in the world, one simply needs to google “plastic waste island” to understand the weight of the issue.
Chu and Tran saw these environmental issues as the perfect business opportunity. Being sneaker enthusiasts, they wanted to create a sneaker line that at once looks good and positively impacts the environment.
For every 100 pairs of sneakers made, 33 kilograms of used coffee grounds are recycled. And for every pair made, up to 6 plastic bottles are recycled.
According to the brand’s site the shoes are made by infusing the coffee grounds with the plastic bottle pellets. Once infused, this material is then spun into a polymer yarn where it is then knitted onto a waterproof membrane. The waterproof shoes are light, durable and wearable throughout the seasons.
“We just wanted to make the best sneakers, something that was technically advanced and sustainable,” says Tran in an interview with the World Economic Forum.
The creators believe that one shouldn’t have to choose between wearing good-looking clothes and caring about the environment. They believe that it is possible to wear environmentally friendly items that look good and that’s just what they created.
Due to the brand’s minimalist designs, the Rens Originals sneaker is estimated to be 80% less impactful on the environment than leather shoes and 60% less than textile shoes.
Even though creators Chu and Tran are based in Helsinki, Finland, they are originally from Vietnam and would like to move the manufacturing of the sneakers to their home country.