This post on eco-friendly sneakers is paid-for content in association with MIRET.
The shoes we wear can leave a pretty big environmental footprint. According to Common Objective, worldwide, we collectively buy an estimated 14.5 billion to 19 billion pairs of shoes per year. This is more than double the number of people on the planet.
It’s a colossal amount. And it’s not just the scale of our consumption that is a problem. What these shoes are made from is also problematic.
Most shoes are made from environmentally damaging materials. Some shoes are made from leather tanned with chromium – a highly toxic carcinogen. The leather industry has also been responsible for deforestation in South America, which is also a major cause of climate change and biodiversity loss.
Faux leather shoes also have their drawbacks. Most are made from either polyurethane (also known as PU) or polyvinyl chloride (also known as PVC). Both PU and PVC are plastics predominantly made using non-renewable fossil fuels, and shed microplastics. Even vegan leather – made from pineapple skin, apple, mango or other natural sources – is bound together with plastic.
Enter MIRET’s Eco-Friendly Sneakers
So where do we go for footwear that treads lightly on the planet?
Enter MIRET, the Croatian-based sustainable sneaker company that wants to do things differently. A family-run business, MIRET’s goal is to make high-quality, stylish, and sustainable footwear derived from all-natural materials.
MIRET is close to this challenging goal. Its eco-friendly sneakers are made from 97% natural materials. This is broken down as follows:
- The upper is made from New Zealand wool, which is EU-Ecolabel® certified pure wool. This is naturally water-repelling and thermoregulating.
- The sole is made from sustainably sourced soft and flexible natural rubber latex.
- Shoelaces are made from eucalyptus rather than synthetic fibres.
- The lining is made from un-dyed hemp – making the shoes breathable.
- And the footbed is made from renewable cork – which is naturally odour-resistant and antibacterial.
You might be wondering about the remaining 3% of materials? The remaining materials are synthetic glue and polyester thread. These ensure that MIRET’s sneakers are durable and made to last. MIRET are working hard to replace the 3% synthetic materials with natural materials that will provide just as much durability as these synthetic counterparts. Watch this space!
What About Carbon Footprint?
Do these materials make MIRET sneakers eco-friendly? Well, MIRET conducted a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) for a pair of MIRET sneakers. An LCA is a scientific method of assessing the lifecycle environmental impacts of a product. From the extraction of the raw materials used in its manufacture, to its use by consumers, right through to recycling or disposal.
MIRET’s LCA revealed a carbon footprint of 3.7 kg CO2 for the shoe’s entire lifespan. This includes processing all of the raw materials, manufacturing, shipping and disposal at the end of the shoe’s life. In comparison, the average pair of sneakers has a 14.0 kg CO2 carbon footprint. MIRET has made some further improvements to its sneakers since the original LCA. A new assessment is currently in progress and is expected to come in at lower than the original figure.
What’s To Love About MIRET
As well as the more sustainable materials used to make MIRET’s sneakers, there’s a lot more to love about the brand.
MIRET’s sneakers are sustainably and ethically made in Croatia. The manufacturing process minimises the usage of synthetic materials at every stage. From production and assembly, right through to the plastic-free delivery of the shoes to your door. MIRET strive to make sure that its impact on the planet is minimal.
What’s more, MIRET’s eco-friendly sneakers are made to last. Its shoes are designed to last beyond the standard year-long lifecycle that sneakers often have.
MIRET shoes are also designed with the aim for them to be worn – without care and for outdoor adventure. As such each pair of shoes is treated with an environmentally-friendly water-repellent coating, so your shoes can stand up to almost any outdoor adventure.
MIRET’s mission is to raise awareness of the negative ecological impact of the footwear industry and empower people to choose more sustainable options.
The brand’s ultimate dream is to create a “zero-impact” shoe. Achieving this goal means that MIRET will create eco-friendly sneakers that are made from renewable, bio-based, and locally sourced sustainably grown materials. The shoes will then be locally manufactured and made to be extremely durable. At the end of their life, the sneakers will be both compostable and recyclable.
MIRET say that with each new generation of MIRET sneakers they are getting closer to this ideal. It’s definitely a brand to keep your eye on!
Currently, MIRET’s eco-friendly trainers are not compostable, however, you can recycle your shoes where possible at the end of their lifecycle.
Q+A With MIRET
I got a chance to chat with Hrvoje and Domagoj, the brothers behind MIRET, to learn more about the brand and its ambitions.
Can you tell us a bit about yourselves, and your backgrounds before taking on MIRET?
Hrvoje has over 10 years of experience as head of footwear design and development in Roosvai’s footwear factory and holds a master’s degree from the University of Zagreb in industrial design. Domagoj has over 11 years of experience as a CEO of the Roosvai footwear factories in Croatia, along with working at Mr Joseph and Lessinia. This experience brought extensive knowledge of running a mid-scale business.
Hrvoje deals with product development, product modelling and organisation of production, while Domagoj is in charge of business development and management. We inherited the family business in our early twenties and have been in this business ever since. We gained experience in the footwear industry through our father Josip, who spent his entire life working in footwear and was behind the famous Croatian footwear brand Mr Joseph.
Your family crafted high-end footwear for some of the most famous brands on the market. When you both took over the running of the business, why was pivoting to focus on sustainable footwear so important to you both?
We were working and producing footwear for some of the most famous luxury brands until one day, Hrvoje had an epiphany and realised that we were producing trash. We were producing high-quality shoes, but we saw the industry from the inside and outside and realised that there is a dark side to it.
Regular shoes are built to be durable but at a low production cost and within a short period. To achieve that, companies use rubber, plastic, and other harmful synthetic materials. Once used, sneakers end up in landfills and become a source of micro-plastics, polluting everything around us. That is the moment we realised we don’t want to be a part of this problem anymore, and the idea of MIRET was born.
We wanted to offer a solution, and take the responsibility from the end user by giving them a sustainable alternative, without compromising on the design, quality, and comfort.
What’s been the most challenging aspect of running an eco-friendly sneaker business?
The biggest challenge was finding a solution to the question of how traditional footwear materials that meet the functions of aesthetics, durability, and price, can be adequately replaced with materials that meet high ecological criteria.
Another challenge was where to find partners, i.e. material suppliers, who truly share MIRET’s values and at the same time are completely transparent in their business.
And what has been the most rewarding?
The most rewarding aspect is building a strong community of backers. We were on Kickstarter in 2020, and some of the backers from that time became our investors on Funderbeam (crowd investing platform) last year.
We truly have an engaging community that believes in us and has followed us on our path from the very beginning.
I have two sisters, and I think we would all admit that we would find it tricky working with each other! What’s it like working together as brothers? Do you ever have disagreements?
We have worked together as a family our whole life, and we can’t imagine working without each other. Sometimes it is hard, but we each have our own areas of expertise and responsibility that we stick to it. Even though we are different, we do share the same values and vision for MIRET, and we believe that is what matters.
And finally, you’ve created some beautifully stylish eco-friendly sneakers. What’s next for MIRET?
For the near future, we definitely will stick to producing footwear. In the coming period, we want to focus on making new models and even different shoe products, not just sneakers.
We also started with business-to-business (B2B) collaborations this year. That is definitely the area on which we plan to focus more.
Furthermore, even though we ship worldwide, we are mostly focused on Europe. We are planning to expand to the US and Asian markets more in the coming years.
Alongside all of this, we are always looking for new ways to upgrade our products and bring a more sustainable generation of sneakers to the market.
Where to Buy MIRET Eco-Friendly Sneakers
If you are keen to explore the full range of MIRET’s stylish yet sustainable sneakers, then do visit MIRET’s online store. Prices start from €119. You can use the exclusive discount code MORALFIBRES15 to take 15% off a pair of sneakers. This code is valid until 31st December 2022 and is limited to 1 use per customer.