Exceptional ambitious in its ethical standards: Po-zu
How does it look if a company gets it all right?
I’ve tried to get an overview of its efforts and take it as an example.
There is a lot to live up to.
Commitment to Materials
First of all, there are the materials. All materials come from naturally renewable resources. All materials are responsibly harvested. And they are all innovative and better than your neighbours. Coming up is a round-up of ‘just’ 7 amazing materials.
Piñatex is a vegan alternative from leather and once more, makes pineapple the plant of our time. It’s from pineapple leaf fibres and by-product of harvest. Nothing can beat a by-product like pineapple leaves when it comes to saving resources and minimising waste.
The production of Piñatex has a positive environmental impact. Bio-mass is produced in the process. It can be converted in bio-gas and fertilizer. More, no harmful chemicals are used in its production. Piñatex had been developed to fulfil the needs of a circular economy and reached its goal. So far it has been adopted by vegan shoe and accessories brand. Hugo Boss has also developed a style in 4 colours.
GOTS certified Organic cotton
GOTS is the leading standard for organic fibres. Criteria are ecological and social.
A certified garment must contain at least 95% certified organic fibres. Carcinogenic azo dyes are not allowed. Bleaches can’t be based on chlorine. An environmental policy to minimise waste must be in place. The manufacturer must treat waste water in a functional waste water treatment plant. PVC, Chrome, and nickel are generally not permitted. That’s just a simple round-up, of course.
The social criteria include freedom, safe and hygienic working conditions, humane working hours, a living wage, and no discrimination.
The Portuguese cork industry has suffered when the wine industry changed to cheaper materials. But cork is anti-bacterial, a natural springy material, insulating and as Po-zu states, even Nasa uses it in its rockets. You just got to have some cork in your life!
Cork is such a stunning material. The cork bark can be harvested off the tree and then grows back relatively quickly. Cork oaks are strong, beautiful trees, that can turn 200 years old. According to APCOR, the Portuguese cork association, it can be harvested every 9 years. A truly renewable resource which doesn’t even need a human to renew itself.
Leather that is ethically sourced is not an easy job. The company shows awareness that even the most sustainable leather needs a lot of resources. And therefore, is always on the search to become more sustainable.
Po-zu leather is certified by Biocalce, which certifies it’s chrome-free, and free of other toxic materials.
Using an adaption of coir seems to be the company’s ace up their sleeve.
It’s a biodegradable material mix of coconut husk and natural latex and looks like a natural mattress with lots of airfields. This kind of material is called biomimicry, a natural shock absorber. You can guess, it’s used for the memory foam foot mattress. The result is a sole that shapes itself around our feet and so becomes custom-engineered by wearing it. It has lots of great qualities, such as being insulating, moisture resistant and breathable.
But that would not be all that one can do. Therefore, the production takes place in the UK.
Po-zu soles are even more hardwearing than shoes of standard petroleum-based rubber. It’s especially interesting because the natural rubber biodegradable.
Climatex is really showing where we are at, as it is actually edible! It’s also another successful approach to the circular economy. Its wastes can be used as mulch (just in case you have something tastier in your fridge).
Commitment to Fair trade
Makers are treated with respect, they are paid a fair wage, and are considered family. Po-zu claims to have a strict suppliers code to manufacturing where factories need to have highest ethical standards.
No Solvent-based substances
This code includes to avoid all use of solvent-based substances. These chemicals can be quite harmful to workers. I’ve seen this myself once in a factory, which was operating within traditional industrial standards. Workers got in touch with azo dyes every day and these workers had very strong rashes on their faces.
At Po-zu most shoes are glue-less, while some are containing water-based glues. Most manufacturers are using solvent-based glues, as these offer the quickest/cheapest manufacturing method.
Giving to Charity
10% of net profit is divided equally to Resurgence & Ecologist, Pesticide Action Network UK, and Environmental Justice Foundation.
A really inspiring choice of charities which shows how far Po-zu’s concern goes. For example, the Pesticide Action Network. They are offering support to victims of pesticide exposure, and also, help farmers in developing countries to get away from using dangerous pesticides, but adopt sustainable and profitable farming practices instead.
Set up of the THE BETTER SHOE FOUNDATION
Because why stopping short if Po-zu can do it all?
Core activity is promoting sustainability in shoe manufacturing by providing an open-source platform aimed at manufacturers.
The following organisations have certified Po-zu’s products.
- Ethical Company Organisation
that issues the Good Shopping Guide
- Fair Rubber Association
where every member pays a premium price on rubber to pay a fair price that can improve working and living conditions of natural latex producers.
- The Butterfly Mark
Brands need to apply yearly and are assessed for social framework, environmental framework, philanthropy, and innovation.
But it’s all about the style
Great mix of fashionable street shoes and Star Wars inspired nerd-ware. Personally I’m a fan of the more feminine sneakers that have a chic aspect such as Sneak L Off-white Gold.
But still think it’s super cool that they have a collab with Star Wars. One can see that the brand has a great team of creative and business-savvy heads behind it.
I will stay tuned and inspired, for sure.