These Shoes Made of Algae Can Help You Run a Marathon While Keeping Oceans Clean

These phenomenal, durable shoes keep algae blooms in check.

algae

Image: Vivobarefoot.

Activism can extend to every facet of life when decisions on everything from what you eat to how often you drive — and even the shoes you wear to a demonstration — have an impact on the planet.

Now, the sneakers helping you run that marathon can also assist in keeping waterways clean while reducing carbon in the atmosphere — because Ultra Blooms are crafted entirely from “algae-derived Bloom foam.”

“It just ticks every box,” says Galahad Clark, of the Clark family footwear dynasty. “It’s rare to find such a cool environmental initiative that is both cleaning up carbon but also, both cost-wise and performance-wise, just as good as the virgin petrochemicals used on the market.”

Set to release this month, Clark’s Ultra Blooms are the first shoe on the planet to be fabricated using only algae biomass, and are modeled in the same spirit as the 2004 launch of the company’s Vivobarefoot line — sneakers so lightweight and flexible, they can be mushed into a ball for easy storage.

Image: Vivobarefoot.

Like netting, the innovative shoes have plenty of holes to allow water to escape — a convenient design, given the algae green sneakers can be worn on land and in water.

algae

Image: Vivobarefoot.

Wired reports:

Excess algae in lakes and ponds can choke marine life or threaten the supply of drinkable water. It’s not a small problem: Last year, Florida declared a state of emergency over the stuff colonizing its coastline. San Diego company Bloom visits waterways with high algal bloom, scoops up some of the algae, then sucks out the moisture and combines it with polymers to create a foamlike material.”

“The squishy bio foam performs almost exactly like EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate), the polymer material used to cushion most athletic shoes. It’s cheap too, with wholesale prices on par with EVA. On top of those benefits, Clark says the foam in each pair of Ultra Blooms will recycle 57 gallons of filtered water back into natural habitats while saving 40 party balloons worth of carbon dioxide by removing the excess algae from the environment.”

Ultra Blooms will retail for around $75 a pair — pricier than discounted sneakers, but rather reasonable for the benefits to delicate ecosystems around the world through the definitive break with fossil fuel-based materials. 

Of course, Clark’s isn’t the first shoe company to innovate away from fossil fuels — nor toward an effort to clean up the Earth. Last year, Adidas introduced biodegradable shoes fabricated from synthetic spider silk using the same proteins found in natural webs to increase durability while remaining pliable and comfortable. 

Other inventive shoes have been made from recycled plastic bottles and ocean refuse in a dual effort to trawl the seas of life-choking waste and provide lasting strength and comfort. Wired reports Reebok even constructed shoes from dried corn kernels. But the algae bloom material in Clark’s new product has already replaced EVA in a growing number of shoe designs for its minimal, green footprint.

“Ultimately, billions of pairs of shoes could be made with this material,” Clark told Wired. “There’s that much algae in the world.”

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