Wil Sillen's post

These shoes are made from ocean plastic
By: Chantal Blommers

The Dutch shoe brand Mipacha is launching the Oceano collection this month. No less than 1.5 million plastic bottles, found in the ocean and coastal regions, were used to make the shoes. “The more shoes we sell, the more plastic we can recycle.”

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A Dutch backpacker came across beautiful colorful shoes at a local market in the Peruvian city of Cuzco. He buys a few and - once back from the trip - one compliment after another follows. "Where did you get those shoes?" Apparently there is a market for it, he concludes, and the Mipacha brand was born.

Heritage of Peru
But it didn't stop there, says Arie Torres, CEO of the shoe brand since last year. "The distinct patterns and colors incorporated into the shoes are part of Peru's culture and heritage. From the start, the goal has been to ensure that their sale benefits the people of the region." This means, among other things, that the shoes are made in a factory where good working conditions are guaranteed, he says. “Things that we consider very normal, such as health insurance and maternity leave, are not yet available in Peru. We think it's important that these things are properly arranged. Just like that our employees receive a fair wage.”

The company has been around for ten years now and sells shoes, accessories and clothing. Mipacha always looks at whether it can make choices that make the company even more sustainable. For example, Mipacha comes out with a new collection no more than twice a year. “It is impossible to make durable, good quality shoes at the speed at which many major fashion houses work,” says Torres. “We therefore produce items that are timeless.”
Collection from the ocean
The new Oceano collection will be launched at the end of July. These are shoes made from plastic bottles. Each shoe contains nine recycled PET bottles. Thirty percent of the bottles come from the ocean, seventy percent from the coastal areas. The plastic is compressed under high pressure and spun into fine yarn. The Peruvian employees then use this to make the characteristic shoes. The sole of the shoes is made from recycled rubber.

Torres: “We were able to recycle 1.5 million plastic bottles for this collection. The more shoes we sell, the more plastic we can give a new function.” A partner of Mipacha collects the plastic from the ocean and the coast. “Unfortunately, plastic that has been in the water for some time is less reusable. That is why we mix it with plastic that lies along the coast and has not yet reached the water.”

The buyer knows exactly where the shoe comes from. “Our blockchain technology documents the entire supply chain, from the moment the plastic is taken out of the water to the moment the shoe is made.” For every pair sold, Mipacha supports the Turtle Foundation and saves one baby turtle. Furthermore, the collection is completely vegan. "We still have one line that contains leather, all other lines are already vegan. For that one line, we are looking for alternatives, such as fruit leather. We want to make a big impact, but at the same time we also have to take some steps to make."
According to him, fashion is 'an interesting playing field'. “People buy our shoes because they like them. Our challenge is to ensure that as many positive things as possible are set in motion with the sale of the shoes. That we support the population in Peru and can remove plastic from the oceans and keep our company commercially healthy. That way we can make the most impact.”

  • Daniel Waweru

    48 w

    It is nice to know that plastics that are a threat can turn into very useful things once well taken care of

    • Lucinda Ramsay

      48 w

      The more ways to recycle plastic the better!! If we can reduce production of plastic as well it's a double win!

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