All that coffee produces a lot of waste. Coffee grounds often end up in landfill or being washed into sinks and drains, contributing to the food waste problem – around a third of all food produced is thrown away.
Now two entrepreneurs in Helsinki have started making sneakers from used coffee grounds.
Son Chu and Jesse Tran are self-confessed sneaker obsessives. But, concerned about their environmental impact, they couldn’t find sustainably made sneakers they found stylish and affordable. So they made some.
Their business, Rens, combines fabric made from coffee grounds with recycled plastic waste to create a material light and durable enough to use for footwear. A pair of their sneakers weighs 460g – 300g of that is coffee. The equivalent of six discarded plastic bottles is also used in each pair.
Rens isn’t alone in using food byproducts and waste to create clothing.
The fashion industry is huge, with annual sales of $1.3 trillion. But it consumes a vast amount of resources and generates harmful pollution and emissions. It is responsible for around 20% of the world’s wastewater.
An increased interest in sustainability in fashion, though, has led to a range of alternative materials.
According to the sustainable fashion industry body Common Objective, 57% of all discarded clothing ends up going to landfill, while “35% of all materials in the supply chain end up as waste before a garment or product reaches the consumer”.
A greater use of alternative materials could help reduce the fashion sector’s waste levels, as well as make use of leftovers from other industries.