When it seems that you’re surrounded by myriads of backwards shoe companies, it is very comforting when you hear about Cariuma. This is the type of effort that needs to go into creating products. Reading through the extensive information pertaining to sustainability and their environmental impact on the Cariuma website made me feel so sure of what goes on behind the scenes of making this shoe is ethical and every single choice is made with the environment in mind. I have immense respect for the distance that this company goes to make these shoes, it seems like they really thought of everything, and all of this information was very easily accessible. And, something that is really great and allows accessibility, is this skate shoe is pretty much the same in price as other popular skate shoes like Vans or Nike. There is always room to improve, and the fact that Cariuma acknowledges this and holds themselves accountable by sharing their goals shows me that they really are one of the good guys.
Cariuma states, “We are committed to choosing the pro-earth option always” and I respect them for actually making their actions align with their words. A lot of companies say a lot of good-sounding phrases to deceive consumers into buying their products, but let me tell you that Cariuma is really doing the most. Here is a list of what each shoe is made of:
Suede, organic cotton, natural rubber, mamona oil, cork, recycled plastics, metal aglets
First up, suede. “Isn’t suede unsustainable?“, you may ask. In short, yes. Suede comes from cows, and factory farms are usually the source of theses cows. I’m going to keep it short and say factory farming is absolutely awful for our planet. The good news is that Cariuma does not source their suede from factory farms! (Yay!) Their suede is sourced from sustainable sources in Argentina, Thailand, Brazil, and China and never from an area that is threatened by deforestation for cattle.
The rest of the pieces that create this shoe are ethically sourced and sustainable alternatives to other less-sustainable materials. Ethical tapping is used for extracting the natural rubber so the tree isn’t harmed, mamona oil is a sustainable plant-based alternative to petroleum oil, harvesting cork from the tree leaves the tree intact, and using metal instead of plastic for the aglets reduces plastic waste. All of the materials used are certified through some sort of certification organization unique to each material. Having an in depth explanation on each material that is used to make the shoe makes me feel very informed on what this product is made of, leaving no questions unanswered (except for why aren’t more people using mamona oil instead of petroleum?!).
This shoe implements transparency and sustainability in every step of the process. Their manufacturing partners are audited once a year against Cariuma’s code of conducts which are available on their website. I think it’s really cool how they include a document of their code of conduct on their website, so you can kind of get a sense of what is going on in the manufacturing realm of the process and know that the work being put towards these shoes is ethical.
At Cariuma, they value being able to know where the materials and work come from. There is 100% traceability of the shoe manufacturing, 85% traceability of raw material processors, mills, knitting, packaging, outsole factory and components in general, and 59% traceability of their yarns, polymers and chips. Wow! I think it is really amazing that this company first of all knows this data, and second of all is willing to share it. I think it is very mature of them to even include the lower percentage and sort of admit that they don’t know where some of the materials come from. That said, they state that they are going to extend auditing to suppliers other than the shoe manufacturing in order to increase traceability and close the gap of the unknown. I think it is really respectable when a company can acknowledge that they can do better and put forth a goal to progress towards.
For the shipping process, the recycled and recyclable shoebox doubles as it’s shipping box! This is a huge win because it completely takes out an entire box from the equation! Another cool feature that they just added is that the shoe filler (the thing that keeps the shoe’s shape) is biodegradable. Another win!
Lastly, to bring up the suede used in this shoe again, the water used in the process of creating the suede is recycled and reused, and solar energy is used for the drying process. I love how they even include seemingly little or overlooked sustainable practices like this, because they really do have a large impact!
Something I would like to see from Cariuma is a plan of what to do with the shoe once it is done being used. They say that they donate lightly used and returned shoes, but it’d be cool to see a plan for used shoes other than the landfill.
Cariuma is a company out of Rio, Brazil and they have fully convinced me that sustainability is truly their main goal. I was in heaven when I found their sustainability page on their website: a page that consists of five different tabs of different topics with information on all of the ways they have thought and chosen to be more sustainable with their practices. The five tabs are materials, factories, operations, giveback, and our commitment. I really appreciate an in-depth accumulation of a company’s sustainability practices.
From this page I got to learn more about who is making the shoes. They acknowledges how important their employees who are physically creating the shoes are and follow International Labor Organization guidelines as well as their own code of conducts.
Cariuma has a lot of goals for the future to become even more sustainable and these goals are listed on their website for their entire consumer base to read and keep them accountable.
A few other ways that Cariuma incorporates sustainability into their products are that their warehouse runs off solar energy and is LEED Gold certified which is expensive and difficult to do. They also donate gently used and returned shoes to Soles4Souls, neutralize their carbon emissions through shipping with reforestation through DHL Go Green, and they began their own reforestation project where if you get a pair of sneakers, they will plant a pair of trees in Brazilian Rainforest. Cariuma does so much for our environment and is a great example for the rest of the shoe industry.