Plastic Bottles Ethically Re-engineered Into Waste-free Shoes

Getting to know Rothy, sustainable shoes that brag low-waste, are made of low-impact materials and are hand-assembled for high quality and durability.

When Plastic Bottles Are Being Re-engineered Into Waste-free ShoesMaking use of our waste, Rothy has come up with a brilliant way of making waste-free shoes using ground-up bottles. The amazing part is that the San Francisco-based startup shoe knitting process only takes six minutes.

Founded by Roth Martin and Stephen Hawthornethwaite, Rothy shoes dramatically reduce the materials normally used during construction. This was something that the designers, who worked on Rothy did way before Nike came out with their Flyknit shoes. At close inspection, the difference between the two is that Nike’s shoes are knitted in two-dimensions, Rothy’s are “knit to shape” in three dimensions and come out of the machine fully formed. On the production of the sustainable shoe Martin, shared, “You have a tremendous amount of scrap waste that’s going into landfills. Our process allows us to knit three-dimensional parts that use the exact amount of material that they need to use in order to create the part. So, like an inkjet printer, it draws just the amount of ink that it needs to complete that task, and then it repeats the task as needed.”

When Plastic Bottles Are Being Re-engineered Into Waste-free Shoes

Designed with only three materials, the upper part of the shoe is made entirely from recycled water bottle filament, as is the insole, which is attached to a recyclable foam.   The sole is made from rubber. What is great is that the material feels like fabric, not like a plastic bottle and the shoe also fits snugly on the foot without rivets and shoelaces, or buckles, or any extra parts. On the seamless shoe’s design Roth stated, “There’s no elastic in it, and no seams. So your foot’s in contact with one material, which is novel in itself. And because of the knit structure, it has a nice give to it that holds its shape beautifully.”

As basic as the shoe sounds, there are hints of luxury. From the sophisticated
patterns of the 3D knit upper, to the embroidered logo monogrammed into the plush removable insole, Rothy’s shoe are attainable luxury, not untouchable fashion; and it works as well as a day in the office as it does when you’re meeting friends for Sunday brunch.

Plastic Bottles Ethically Re-engineered Into Waste-free Shoes

Producing on demand to avoid overproduction, Rothy wants to establish a service where they do not create their shoes in advance. The main reason behind their way of thinking is that “with footwear you have so many sizes and so many styles that it’s very hard to gauge when buying and ordering materials for demand.” Rothy believes that the future will be made up of a demand-driven generation, rather than the traditional cycle.

With plans to continue to create an alternative, versatile shoe by “moving pixels around and changing the code slightly” Rothy also plans to add solar panels to their factory in China, which will keep them true to their sustainability goals.

Share Your Tips & Corrections