A new vegan shoe has been designed using recycled bubble wrap. The nat-2 Sleek Low sneaker (US $350) is the result of a collaboration between German sustainable footwear brand nat-2 and Isreali textile innovator Remeant. Nat-2 is known for using innovative materials for its shoes, and vegan company Remeant transforms discarded plastic from landfills and oceans to create high-quality, sustainable materials for a variety of product applications, such as handbags, furniture, and clothing. 

Nat-2’s Reduceusecycle Line features three vegan shoes made from recycled materials including recycled velcro and cord. Its bubble wrap version uses Remeant’s innovative material made from single-use plastic using a patented process that ensures it is highly durable, waterproof, and lightweight. The bubble wrap leather is 100-percent vegan and represents the first time Remeant’s bubble wrap material has been used in a shoe design.

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The gender-neutral nat-2 sneakers are made by hand in a small family production in Italy. The upper of the Sleek Low features the bubble wrap material, while its midsole is made from removable cork. The outsole is made from rubber and the laces are created from recycled PET. Uniquely, the heel collar is made from reflecting glass particles.

Sustainable vegan shoes are the future

Brands around the world are using innovative vegan materials to create more sustainable footwear options. This month, luxury brand Gucci released its first line of vegan sneakers made from Demetra, a leather alternative made from 77 percent plant-based raw materials, including wood pulp and viscose. To make the sneaker look like animal leather, it is tanned in the way leather would be but without animal cruelty or environmental harm. 

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Gucci’s parent company Kering—which also manages the development of Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, and more—is part of a coalition of fashion brands working with startup Bolt Threads, maker of mushroom-derived vegan leather. Together with Adidas, Stella McCartney, and Lululemon, Kering is working with the startup’s Mylo, a sustainable vegan leather made from mycelium, the fast-growing root systems of mushrooms. As part of this partnership, Adidas recently unveiled the Mylo Stan Smith, a vegan version of its iconic Stan Smith sneakers made with mushroom-based leather. 

Streetwear brand Vans recently launched its first sustainable shoe collection, Eco Theory, featuring four of the company’s best-selling shoe styles made with ethically sourced, vegan, and environmentally friendly materials. Instead of traditional textiles such as suede and petroleum-based rubber used in other Vans products, the Eco Theory collection features environmentally friendly options like organic cotton, cork, natural rubber, hemp, and water-based inks and glues. 

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Vegan balloon leather?

Lisbon-based shoe brand Undo for Tomorrow offers vegan “Nuven” sneakers featuring a multicolored sole made from discarded party balloons and rubber tire leftovers. The shoes are made using other recycled and natural materials such as bamboo for the lining, sustainably sourced Amazon Rainforest rubber for the toe caps, caster oil for the insole, and recycled plastic for the vegan suede outer shell. 

And earlier this year, footwear brand Sylven New York launched the world’s first vegan sneaker made from apples and coconut. The “Mel” sneaker is handcrafted in Italy from apple leather, coconut husks, and a renewable rubber made from tree sap. The apple leather, made using organic apple waste from Italy, is a material that has long been used by the brand, but the coconut husks and lactate hevea rubber are new natural materials that have been incorporated into the shoe.

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