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Sustainable Sneaks Step Up Footwear Circularity

Newcomer Third Mind elevates men’s footwear in more ways than one; while a first-of-its-kind recycling service from Thousand Fell, TerraCycle and UPS ensures your sustainable sneaks won’t end up in a landfill.

Third Mind continues to innovate on classic men's footwear

Image credit: Third Mind

Third Mind — a California-based sustainable men’s footwear brand that’s out to modernize men’s dress shoes, launched earlier this year — has already expanded its line of shoes that perform like a sneaker, look like dress shoes and don't harm the environment.

Created by former Native Shoes exec Steve Hamel, the startup has introduced a penny loafer into its line of responsibly engineered lace-ups and wing tips for the holidays. The Gene loafer — named for Singing in the Rain actor Gene Kelly — is ultra-lightweight, eliminates odors, and is made from sustainable materials including:

  • Outsoles made with 30 percent recycled rubber from tires

  • Clarino® TirreninaTM — a non-woven microfiber leather that replaces animal leather and gives Third Mind shoes durability, stretch, and recovery for the ultimate shoe performance. The company says Clarino Tirrenina is used because of the solvent-free manufacturing process, reduction of water waste by 70 percent, and reduction of CO2 emissions by 35 percent

  • NatureTex® — a lining material made from 100 percent recycled water bottles. The strobel and inside board of Third Mind shoes contain 70 percent recycled materials. Of that 70 percent, 80 percent is from recycled plastic water bottles and the rest is from recycled post-industrial materials

Third Mind says it has an extensive approval process for selecting suppliers that provide parts for manufacturing — which requires fair wages, renewable energy programs, and pollution-eliminating programs. The company also conducts rigid quality-control tests on each products, including being vetted for harmful chemicals before it can be taken to market.


Thousand Fell launches sneaker-recycling program with UPS, TerraCycle

Image credit: Thousand Fell

Last week, recyclable footwear brand Thousand Fell announced it had teamed up with UPS and TerraCycle on an innovative sneaker-recycling program. The launch is part of a two-year partnership between Thousand Fell and TerraCycle, which together have been working to create at-scale recycling solutions for footwear — retail’s largest waste-producing product category*.

The nationwide program offers customers an easy and accessible way to recycle their sneakers — through the expansive network of UPS Store locations and UPS authorized partners such as Staples. Customers can now bring their prepaid, labeled packages containing their sneakers to any of these 14,400 locations to be shipped directly back to TerraCycle for recycling; and in exchange, Thousand Fell will issue a credit of $20 towards a future purchase.

Launched last year, the New York-based brand has been a pioneer in circular footwear — by shunning leather in favor of other materials such as natural recycled rubber, castor beans, coconut husks, sugar cane and quartz for its ‘full circle footwear’ designs. Its line started with white lace-up and slip-on sneakers for men and women, which co-founder Stuart Ahlum has called the “perfect product to put on a closed-loop system.”

In addition to using alternative materials, Thousand Fell has tasked itself with getting product back from customers while responsibly maintaining carbon footprint and cost, and breaking down the returned products so that the materials could be reused in new sneakers. Through this partnership, Thousand Fell is empowering customers to join them in building a zero-waste future, while giving them full visibility and the ability to track their footwear’s life cycle. 

Through the new program:

•       Thousand Fell is using UPS’s reverse logistics program for recycling returns and freight, which they can build and scale together over time, while keeping their carbon footprint as low as possible. 

•       Customers can drop off prepaid, labeled packages containing their sneakers at any of UPS’s 14,400 nationwide UPS Store locations or UPS authorized partners, such as Staples, so the sneakers may be shipped back to TerraCycle for recycling.  Customers can download their shipping labels at https://www.thousandfell.com/pages/our-sustainability.

•       TerraCycle and Thousand Fell are also working on a closed-loop solution where old sneakers will be reintegrated into the supply chain to make new sneakers.   

•       Thousand Fell customers can create an account and register their sneakers once received, so that they can initiate free recycling when they’re ready — either at one of the in-person drop-off locations or by shipping them back directly to TerraCycle.  Customers will also be able to see their entire purchase history and track the personal carbon footprint for their sneakers through ThousandFell.com.  

*Traditionally 97 percent of all shoes end up in landfills. 300 million shoes head to landfill in the U.S. alone every year, after less than just 1 year of wear.

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