April 22 is Earth Day, and in case you've got nothing suitable to put on your feet to go with those hemp pants, organic cotton tie-dye shirt and crocheted dread tam, the Earth Inc. footwear company of Waltham, Mass., has just the thing to help you take your ecological stand: recycled, biodegradable shoes. In what has to be a first, the Biostep line of sandals, sneakers and slip-on casuals uses post-consumer-recycled plastic bottles for the linings and recycled milk cartons for the insole boards. And it's all held together with water-based adhesive. (Hell, even the boxes they come in are glue-free and printed with soy-based inks.) Millennial as all of this may sound, Earth Inc. actually started making eco-friendly shoes 15 years ago. "First we converted to using only water-based adhesives, then we began to use recycled soda bottles for our linings," says president Gary Champion. "Most recently, we introduced a biodegrable sole, which is really a huge breakthrough in the industry."
No doubt. But—hey, wait a sec—how do you make sure the shoes don't start to biodegrade while you've got them on? "Good question," says Champion, who goes on to explain that the soles are an amalgam of starch-based additives and non-starch polymers, which only begin to decompose during extremes in temperatures—like you get in a landfill. So, for everyday wear, you can stand tall with no worries. It's just that you won't be standing straight up. Another Biostep feature is a sole that's inclined to 3.7 degrees, "which gives users gat-burning and toning benefits," according to the sales materials.
Then again, you could just go barefoot.
—Posted by Robert Klara