Traditionally made shoes can have a high environmental cost, as they use a lot of virgin materials, which in turn use many resources to grow and manufacture. Often times they are made overseas and imported into the country, which incurs huge travel miles and therefore adds to the already high carbon footprint.
While shoes made from recycled materials face the same end of life issues regarding their own recycling, the fact that they were made from discarded material means that they helped at least keep this out of landfills. In addition to this, being made from recycled materials also means that minimum precious resources were used during the growing or manufacturing process.
Jidnyasa, Jothsna and Jay are three very eco-aware individuals responsible for everything that goes right and “not so right” at Paaduks, a footwear firm with a difference. ‘Paaduks’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Paadukas’ which is the name of India’s oldest, most quintessential footwear. ‘Paada’ means foot in Sanskrit and ‘Paaduks’ essentially stands for footwear.
“It all started in the year 2013,” explains the team. “We stumbled upon an article that discussed the possible reuse of scrap tyres as footwear soles. Excited about this idea, we decided to give it a try. But with no idea as to how to go about making shoes, we went door hopping down the dingy alleys of Thakkar Bappa Colony and other areas around Kurla station in Mumbai, where many cobblers reside and work.
After talking to a few of these cobblers and learning how shoes and sandals are made and after a few trials and errors we managed to get a few pairs of sandals made with soles entirely made out of discarded tyres……and thus began our journey.”
All of the footwear made by Paaduks, is made out of natural fabrics like cotton, jute, and other vegan material. However the novel aspect is that all their soles are made from up-cycled rubber such as discarded tyres, used conveyor belts, old rubber mats and so on. Up-cycling of discarded rubber to make soles does not involve any chemical process.
In the footwear created by the brand Paaduks, nowhere does the recycled rubber come in contact with skin, just like the soles of other footwear. Also,over the soles there is enough padding that makes the footwear as comfortable to wear as other conventional shoes and slippers.
“Working with the cobblers made us realise the various socio-economic problems that this community is plagued with. It is often exploited by retailers and wholesalers who require the cobblers to invest in the production and then pay them meager amounts for all the hardships; payments are long delayed as well. This spirals the cobbler community into never ending debt cycles. Hence at that stage, we took a conscious decision to address these issues and make it a priority for our venture,” share the team.
Paaduks the firm believes that cobblers are the backbone of their venture. They deserve to be well remunerated for their skills and hard work which clearly goes towards making their products the comfortable stylish footwear they are today.
Paaduks pays cobblers a fair price for their efforts in an attempt to stabilise their financial condition and reduce exploitation of this specialised profession. More importantly, they pay them on time as well as invest in their production.
While Paaduks is an attempt to make eco friendly footwear, the business also envisions a prosperous cobbler community and sincerely adheres to guidelines of internationally agreed FAIRTRADE standards.
Text Compiled By Mala Bajaj