What’s the deal with sustainability and Wildling shoes? Isn’t it about time we had a seal to prove we’re a sustainable company? Some kind of certificate that tells the world we’re not just wild, our shoes uphold the entire ethos of sustainability and ecology.
The thing with seals
Sustainability is a big issue and the number of different certifications around is huge. Some of them leave a lot to be desired when you look at them from an ecological and social sustainability standpoint, with questionable significance and credibility.
Major corporations have their own CSR departments to showcase their sustainability achievements for them and present them in an ecologically correct way – departments that ensure the company basks in the right light – usually a very proper green one. Acquiring the relevant certificates not only confirms their sustainable, green commitment, it also makes them look good.
Finding your way around the jungle of sustainability seals is not an easy task. Companies can pick and choose a green certificate from the vast array on offer and find one that suits them and their consumers best. This overabundance is one of the reasons why customers are sketchy about which seal has significance and which to trust. Quite aside from the fact that companies are now creating their own sustainability seals (labels).It is often unclear what is behind such a seal of sustainability. Take the Oeko-Tex seal, for example. First off, this seal merely states that the labeled product does not contain any harmful substances that are prohibited or regulated by law. It does not mean that such chemical substances will not continue to be used in the manufacturing process, nor does it mean that it is an ‘ecological’ product. It simply must not contain any toxin.
Sustainability, quality and manufacturing processes
Sustainability in its entirety is difficult to grasp and evaluate as it is always associated with questions concerning the quality of materials and the processing of the respective products.
That doesn’t mean we’re throwing in the towel. But we all have to ask questions and allow questions to be asked. Is only producing in Germany important? Or how great is it to only produce our barefoot shoes in Europe and not have them made as cheaply as possible in far-flung places across the globe? Should our shoes not only follow the cradle-to-cradle philosophy but also be 100% recyclable? Or is using lots of (mostly certified) natural materials in production enough? Perhaps creating fair wages and social working conditions is more important?
Questioning and being transparent
So, let’s sum up: We question each of our decisions on the basis of sustainable criteria and try to live up to our responsibility – without having our own seal or certificate, so far. While we’re on the subject, acquiring a certificate always uses up a tremendous amount of resources (money, personnel, time), especially for smaller companies.
We keep asking ourselves the following question: How can we make healthy shoes even more sustainable for people’s feet and do as little harm to the environment as possible?
In the manufacture of our barefoot shoes, for example, we make sure we use a high proportion of natural materials and try to expand this steadily without compromising quality and wearing comfort. We work with companies such as Nordwolle, who produce their wool from endangered breeds of sheep in Germany and don’t have it imported from New Zealand. We also use a fleece, which consists of a mixture of hemp and flaxfor the part of the insoles on which our feet stand,. This fleece is originally produced by a small, very old and traditional company from Austria. Both hemp and flax are materials that require very little water and pesticides in cultivation, automatically making them of organic quality. The soles of Wildling Shoes are made of synthetic rubber with a varying proportion of recycled material and cork particles. They are also phthalate-free.
What we have is a process. A process we want to make more sustainable and we constantly grapple with how we can live sustainability as a company in this world, at this time and for our children. Because, if we want change, we are the ones who bring this about it by our constant questioning and ‘simply getting on with it’.
And with that in mind,
Run wild! Anna, Ran and the Wildlings
Fotos by Wildundwunderbar