If you are an adventurer like me looking for vegan, sustainable hiking boots, then the WXSport Waterproof Hiking Boots are an excellent option! Made by Wills Vegan Store, these boots have everything needed for any outdoor adventure, without the moral cost of buying from an unethical or unsustainable store. They are breathable, durable, long lasting, and have lots of traction. Priced at $165 USD, these boots are comparable, if not cheaper than most other hiking boots on the market. The company focuses on their workers wellbeing in addition to environmental protection, with their website containing a lot of information on its workers rights and what they are doing to ensure an environmentally friendly product. Overall I’d rate this product as a 2.5/3, since Wills Vegan Store is already putting in effort to protect its people and the planet, yet there is always room to improvement by reducing the product’s environmental impact.
The WVSport Waterproof Hiking Boots are made of all vegan materials, can be recycled in Will’s Vegan Store recycling program, and ships with no plastic. They are made in a carbon neutral process, with materials made from cereal crop sourced bio oil. The materials also include rubber and fabrics that are produced by different companies. Usually this would make me sceptical, as its hard to ensure proper practices of different comapnies. But, it seems like Will’s Vegan Store has put in the effort to source from companies that are doing their part to create a sustainable future. For example, the outsole is made of Vibram rubber and the fabric is made from Cordura materials. Vinbram has their own ethical sustainability initiatives, including valuing people, zero waste, and with 60% of their energy used coming from renewables. The materials used to produce Vinbram rubber is supplied from Vietnam and China, where the suppliers have been audited on the company's own code of ethics as well as completed Restricted Substance List training. Cordura also practices sustainability, using mainly recycled materials and aiming to reduce their water and energy consumption as well as emissions. However they do not indicate what ethical practices they participate in, such as fair wages and safe working conditions. There is not much information about who makes the insoles for the boots. The product information lists that it is made of EVA (Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate), which has some negative environmental impacts in the sense that it is not biodegradable. But, it is a very durable material that can be recycled. Despite having a free recycling program, it is unclear if these materials used to produce these boots are recycled or if they are virgin. In the product description it makes a note that the boots can be sent to their return and recycle program when the consumer is done using them. Additionally, all the packaging used for these boots are plastic free, untreated, and recyclable.
Will’s Vegan Store is a UK based brand, yet most of their products are produced in Italy. Usually this would imply the use of a large amount of emissions to transport the products from Italy to the UK, but Wills Vegan Store has a certified carbon neutral supply chain. They are investing in renewable energy to offset any emissions produced in their processes. Not only are they using offsets, but Will’s Vegan Store is also utilizing green energy, with 70% of the power used to produce their shoes coming from solar. Their factory actually contains one of the largest photovoltaic plants in Italy. On the “Ethics and Sustainability” page, Will’s Vegan Store states that they use a traceable system that allows them to know what is being used and from where in every step of production to ensure sustainable sourcing of materials. But they do not include any additional information on exactly where their materials are sourced from, besides stating they use bio oil sourced from cereal crops. As a consumer I would love to be able to see a bit more transparency of their traceable system. In terms of ethics, Will’s Vegan Store ensures their workers have fair working hours, time off, maternity and paternity leave, anti-discrimination, as well as other worker protections and health and safety protections.
Will’s Vegan Store has been making apparel since 2013. Their website has a statement of environmental and ethical beliefs, explaining that they “don’t believe in doing something to protect animals whilst harming humans.” These practices include their vegan, thoughtfully sourced materials, carbon neutral supply chain, free recycling program, and protection of employees rights. On their website there are many pages with information about their sustainable and ethical practices. Their website even has a link saying “Click here to to read our Ethical & Environmental Policy,” yet the page is empty. This could just be some technical difficulties. Yet, as a consumer I am very interested to know if they actually have a policy document. On the ethics side of sustainability, Will’s Vegan Store is doing their part including their own Charter of Human Responsibilities (or Code of Ethics). This Charter of Human Responsibilities in addition to the protections under EU Law ensures Will’s Vegan Store’s employees are respected and treated well. Will’s Vegan Store is going above and beyond to ensure its employees and the planet are not being taken advantage of. Overall, Will’s Vegan Store is a good option when looking for a company that respects ethics and sustainability.