There are no green shoes
Why this campaign?
Unfortunately, despite all the advertising about natural materials, circular fashion, and climate-smart choices, the global overconsumption of shoes and clothes is still a huge problem. The mountain of waste is growing, emissions are increasing, and people are being exploited - despite what the big brands claim.
For example, did you know that when you return an item due to the wrong size or similar, there is a HIGH probability of it being burned, just because it's easier than to take it back and sell it again?
Something must be done. Now.
But there is a good alternative to fast fashion shoes from Gothenburg, Sweden.
Sweden does not have a huge textile industry, but in production countries like Vietnam, keeping up with the demand caused by overconsumption causes significant emissions.
So, what can be done? After all, we need shoes and clothes.
Consuming less and prioritizing better-constructed products is one solution. Another important thing to consider is whether you need something new at all. Before buying something new, check what you have in your wardrobe. But then what? Suppose you absolutely need new shoes. All production harms the planet, so how do you choose a pair that does as little harm as possible?
At Icebug, we know that it is possible to produce shoes while minimizing the harm done to the environment.
We use techniques that minimize chemical usage, buy sustainably grown natural rubber that does not lead to rainforests being cut down, and contribute to good working conditions in the factories where our shoes are made. In addition, we help factories switch to solar energy. And above all, we make durable shoes that you can use for a long time.
During 2023, we are working hard to help the factories we work with switch to renewable energy. If everything goes as planned, we will save 5,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually. That is more than our yearly emissions! Many of our shoes are made in Vietnam, a country with lots of sunlight, but little solar power used in its factories. Energy from fossil fuels is primarily used to run Vietnam’s many factories. These factories make shoes and clothes that are used around the world, so reducing their footprint would be a major win for lowering emissions!
To work towards this goal, Icebug has invited other brands – big and small – to become part of our solar project free of charge. We're a small brand, but if just one of the giants in the industry joined us, we could make a huge difference.
At home, we continue to work to save Swedish old-growth forests. At the time of writing, we have earmarked 1.5 million SEK for donations to this cause in 2022/23.
Icebug's shoes come with a QR code that makes it easy to see what a shoe is made of and how.
Buy less, but better.
We do NOT fly shoes home from the factory. Air freight produces 20 times as many emissions as shipping by boat – yet it is widely used in our industry.
Manufacturing a pair of Icebugs shoes entails, on average, the emission of 11 kilos of carbon dioxide. Before 2030, we will reduce this to 6 kilos through continued improvements to our production process to align with the global targets for decreasing emissions. But we won't stop there - we will continue to reduce our climate footprint as much as possible.
Do you know the average emissions per product or the total emissions produced by your favorite brand? Probably not. We are almost entirely alone in sharing this information for our entire collection. Some brands use language implying “sustainability” or being “eco-friendly,” but these claims aren’t supported. They may make one-off concept models with footprints much lower than the rest of their offerings and call it a day. This is not the same as prioritizing the environment in business practices! At Icebug, we focus on shrinking emissions from our ENTIRE production. It’s a strong starting point, but think of the impact this could have if everyone did it.
We have no growth targets. Our directives clearly state that we must put people and the planet before profit. This is why we can act differently than most other shoe and apparel brands.
It's time to stop talking about sustainability and start doing something!
As a consumer, you can ask tough questions - and do your best to support companies that aren’t all talk. Buy less, but better. Demand to know how things were produced.
We have decided to halve our footprint by 2030 – and influence our industry to do the same. Join us on the road!
How do different shoe brands think about CO2 emissions?
Truth be told, most brands probably don't think about it at all. Though some make great one-off models with extremely low footprints, they rarely represent how the brand works in general. They may say it is not possible to make the ''sustainable model'' in large volumes. While marketing a supposedly eco-friendly sneaker, they continue to produce thousands of pairs of their regular models.
Cutting-edge models are good if they push development forward - but unfortunately, these shoes are far too often mostly about marketing. Claiming that it is possible to make shoes without a carbon footprint is greenwashing. All production comes with a cost.
At Icebug, we decided not to develop special ''green collections.” We see greater value in lowering our average emissions. We want to lower the emissions of our whole collection rather than focusing on a few models with small footprints that are different from our typical products.
Other brands are making one-off, “green” models that have a lower impact than ours, but we believe that it is more important to take responsibility for our total footprint and activities as a company.
NO to flying home shoes.
Does it make any difference? 🤷🏼♀️
Using boat transport from Vietnam to Europe or North America means about 0.5 kg of CO2 emissions is added to the per pair. To us, this is the most sustainable option.
With airfreight, the emissions produced per pair of shoes would be at least 20 times higher.
Even if our production facilities were located closer to our markets (for instance, in Southern Europe), transport by truck might still produce more emissions than transport by sea, making it less sustainable.
We manufacture at selected factories in Asia
For 30 years, we have got used to recurring scandals about slave wages and pollution linked to companies that manufacture in countries such as China, India, and Bangladesh. So - why does a brand that cares so much about sustainability manufacture in Asia?
We have high demands for quality and working conditions.
Icebug has built long-term relationships with three factories in Vietnam and one in China. We have chosen to have our shoes produced in Asia because of their technically advanced footwear industry with professional knowledge that cannot be found in Europe. Of course, wages and the cost of living are also lower in Vietnam and China than in Sweden, which means we can manufacture shoes that many people can buy. At the same time, we ensure that factory workers receive fair, livable wages according to the well-established Anker method. Icebug is one of several customers at each factory. Our shoes account for only 2-25% of each factory’s production, but we use our influence actively. We believe in trade between countries and that we can make a difference and contribute to sustainable livelihoods even outside of Sweden.
The factories - Chief Vict Industries Corp, Haksan Ltd., Fulgent Sun, and Ironsteel - contribute expertise, experience, and great skill regarding materials and function.
Everyone knows there are bad factories in Asia. But there are great ones as well. Not all factories have hazardous working conditions, and Icebug has high standards when it comes to human rights.
How do we know conditions are good?
A third party checks all factories. After each inspection, Icebug and the factory management access the protocol and review the results. This protocol is also published online. In cases where there are improvements to be made, we take the necessary steps. In addition to the third-party checks, Icebug representatives regularly visit the factories.
Is it really sustainable to ship shoes from Asia?
It may sound more sustainable to have production in Europe, but the fact is that shipping shoes from southern Europe by truck produces more greenhouse gas emissions than letting them take the boat from Asia. Above all, we must NEVER fly goods home from the factories. Doing so multiplies shipping-related emissions by 20 times. Many shoe and apparel companies do this, but at Icebug, we NEVER will.