Minimizing negative impact products
You can’t talk about sustainability without starting by saying that the best thing is to consume less. Our resource use is far above the limit of what the planet can regenerate, and our debt is growing each year. (Earth overshoot day happened globally on August 1st 2018.)
But some things we really need – for example, shoes in winter to protect us from cold, wet and slippery conditions. If you do a lifecycle analysis of a pair of performance footwear, no activity comes even close to the same negative impact on the environment as making them. Therefore, a pair of Icebug shoes should not only be needed, but also something that you want and can use for as long as possible. (Speed BUGrip on the picture, for example, we have had in our collection since 2006.)
When it comes to be above, we’ve been on the right track for a long time. Our big advance in the sustainability work for fall 2018 has been to reduce the number of different upper materials we use, and to switch them to less environmentally harmful alternatives – without compromising durability. (The big challenge is actually not the cost increase, but that the minimum quantities increase because the more environmentally harmful materials are bizarrely enough still the standard.) This work is not particularly crowd pleasing - it's not even evident when you see the shoes.
In the production for fall 2018, our goal has been to change all textile materials we can to recycled polyester and use a dying technique to add the pigment on fiber level, instead of weaving or stitching a white fabric, and then coloring it in a big color bath. We call the technology ”solution dye”, it's also called ”spin dye” and ”top dye”. The name is less important, more importantly, when materials are colored in this way, water use is reduced by almost 50%, chemical use by more than 90% and CO2 emissions by more than 60%.
In addition, we strive for having as many textile materials as possible either Bluesign® or Öko-tex (simplified this that the manufacturing is quality assured from the perspective of resource and chemical use).
So in the example of Speed BUGrip, the outer fabric is recycled polyester, solution dye and bluesign, the lining solution dye and bluesign, and the sock lining recycled polyester, solution dye and bluesign.
- Upper textile: 68% solution dye, 70% recycled polyester and 97% bluesign.
- 73% solution dye, 5% recycled polyester, 87% bluesign and 15% øko-tex.
- Insock lining: 78% solution dye, 66% recycled polyester and 98% bluesign.
One last thing that is also very important. If we want to make as sustainable decisions as possible, we must always have a holistic perspective. The shoe to the left is from 2017. Since some of our basic principles for being sustainable is to have models that carry over from year to year (which means that we can have a stock to supply during a good winter when the need is high and that if there’s a bad winter with less need, we can keep shoes for the following winter). Environmental impact has already taken place. When the shoes are on the shoe shelves – in store or at home – from a functional perspective, the shoe to the left is just as good shoes as the one on the right. To stop using it before it’s worn out would not be sustainable.
Our promise is to make improvements as soon as we can with secured performance and durability. It's not always smart, but wise
For the spring/summer 2019 Icebug has created a collection of 74% bluesign® certified upper textiles. This polyester is not dyed, it is white and used for many different styles in our collection. To differentiate styles and proposed use, we have designed interesting print designs on the shoes and executed them with sublimation techniques. One base material, half a dozen usage areas.
For lining material, we have 68% recycled polyester, solution dyed and bluesign® approved. 18% of the SS19 shoes have Ortholite Eco Hybrid insoles with recycled content of PU-foam and bluesign® top cloth.
For care and maintenance, we have tested that the SS19 shoes can handle machine wash at 30° C degrees, but hand wash is still recommended since you can control the water use better this way. Remove laces and insoles before machine wash and dry separately, preferably not in direct sunlight.
The SS19 collection is also screened for possible chemicals by Ri.se, tested by SGS Vietnam. All test results were negative which means the products passed the tests. Icebug is a member of the Swedish chemical group and uses Chemical guidance as a base for our Restricted substances list (RSL).
For the fall winter 2019 collection, we have kept working with the textile materials, changed nearly all of the leathers to Leather Working Group gold or silver standard, introduced biomass and recycled materials in the insole foams and changed to 20% recycled (production waste) material on our BUGrip walking and hiking outsoles.
Next materials to dig deeper into to switch to better alternatives will be the midsole foams, the PU and TPU reinforcements, backing layers and glues used.