As demand grows for more sustainable clothing material alternatives, the fashion industry has turned to sources such as hemp and cactus leather to keep up with trends. Curbing the environmental impact of fast fashion and the industry at large is crucial as it’s the second highest source of pollution in the world. The latest magic bullet comes from surfer enthusiasts in the form of algae.
A team at the University of California San Diego has found a way to turn algae into stylish chanclas. Partnered with Algenesis, the researchers’ goal is to reduce waste from petroleum-based products such as surfboards. The shoes are comprised of algae lipids that scientists have fashioned into a commercially viable foam. When placed in a standard composter, these flip flops decompose in an astonishing 16 weeks, which is a vast improvement over the 10-1,000 years it takes for everyday plastics to decompose.
Flip-flops are one of the most ubiquitous forms of footwear in the world due to their affordability and simple design. Unfortunately, this also means that the 3 billion pairs produced every year eventually become one of the most common forms of ocean pollution. Now, thanks to the UCSD team, that sandal your abuela throws at your head can biodegrade saving you some future pain and the environment all at once!
These products are expected to hit the market within the next year, so keep that in mind when you’re planning your next summer trip!