Sole searching


OPINION — Ads pop up on my computer all the time, and I usually just ignore them. If I see the same ad a few times I often try to block the advertiser, unless they’re selling guns, ammo, Jeep parts, or tamales. You can never have too many tamales.

But an ad popped up on my Facebook feed a while back that caught my eye. It said ‘Totally Vegan Sneaker.’ I started to delete it, but then my curiosity got the better of me, and I clicked on it. Because you never know, there might be a column in there. And sure enough, there was.

The company is called Cariuma, and it’s based in Rio, Brazil. It’s one of those companies that touts its protection of the environment, which is great, as far as I’m concerned, despite the fact they don’t sell tamales. What they sell is eco-friendly shoes, which evidently means shoes that aren’t hostile toward the environment. As near as I can tell, none of my shoes or boots have ever threatened the environment, so I’m a little vague on the concept, but my leather boots are apparently not eco-friendly. They’re eco-unfriendly, I guess. Nor do I much care.

The Cariuma sneakers are all eco-friendly, but now the company seems to have come out with a sneaker that is even more eco-friendly than the average bear. It’s called the IBI, which stands for something, I’m sure. The ad says ‘IBI – brought to you by bamboo.’ The IBI sneaker is definitely impressive, and by impressive I mean ugly. Really ugly. But then, it’s evidently made from bamboo, so you can’t expect a lot.

The big sell on these shoes is that the bamboo they make it from is not killed. They cut the stalk off and leave the plant, and it grows back. So big kudos for saving the planet. Unless you don’t like a lot of bamboo growing around, but then you’d be eco-unfriendly, like my boots.

The outsoles on these shoes is made from sugarcane, they claim, but not just any sugarcane. This sugarcane is ‘renewable and bio-based sugarcane EVA.’ Whatever that means. And the ‘memory insoles’ are made with ‘recyclable cork and organic mamona oil.’ I didn’t even know you could get oil from a mamona. Actually, I never even heard of mamona before. But that’s not the point.

Besides the fact that I have no idea how you make insoles out of oil, the cork in there is supposedly recyclable. Now, there’s only a couple of uses for cork of which I’m aware. One is dartboards, and the other is wine bottle stoppers. And if I were to drink wine, I don’t think I’d want the cork made out of recycled shoes, especially if they once belonged to a vegan. No offense. But that’s also not the point.

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Above: Inkkas Vegan Shoes

The point is that these sneakers are advertised as being ‘100% vegan.’ And I have no problem with that, except that I’m confused as to what you’re supposed to do with them. Do you wear them or eat them? Not that I’d be inclined to eat my shoes, unless I was really, really hungry, and couldn’t get hold of any tamales. And even if I decided to eat my footwear, I think I’d as soon go with my leather boots as sneakers made out of plants. The leather at least came from a cow, which makes it a lot more akin to a steak than a salad.

But the real kicker, no pun intended, is the price of these eco-friendly, recyclable, mamona oil and bamboo shoes. For really ugly sneakers, were I to ever need such an item, I’d be willing to part with maybe ten bucks, tops. These vegan treads go for $98 a pop. And I don’t think that even includes the waiter’s tip, in case you decide to make a meal of them.

Although eco-friendly clothing is all the rage these days, and although I’m certainly on board with conservation, I’m not sure I actually care enough about saving the planet to walk around in vegan shoes, and I’m positive I wouldn’t part with a C-note for a pair of sneakers I wouldn’t wear to the dog fights, even if I had the reigning champ.

Naïve redneck that I am, I assumed Cariuma had broken new ground here, in the vegan sneaker department, but no. A quick Google search turned up dozens of companies with such offerings, most of them hideous. VEJA, for example, has a vegan collection that goes from $70 to $150. If you want a pair that don’t look like you raided your ancient bachelor uncle’s closet, Adidas has some that are almost presentable, but you’ll have to part with $220 for a pair, which is about $200 more than I think any sneakers are worth, vegan or otherwise.

[[{"fid":"64299","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Adidas Ultra Boost","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":"Adidas Ultra Boost"},"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Adidas Ultra Boost","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":"Adidas Ultra Boost"},"2":{"format":"default","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"Adidas Ultra Boost","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":"Adidas Ultra Boost"}},"attributes":{"alt":"Adidas Ultra Boost","title":"Adidas Ultra Boost","class":"media-element file-default","data-delta":"2"}}]]

Above: Adidas Ultra Boost

Call me a skeptic, but I think more people would be willing to save the planet if it didn’t cost an arm and a leg. But to each his own. If vegan shoes appeal to you, have at it. I’m happy as long as nobody tries to sell me vegan tamales . . .


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