The startup shoe retailer, Thousand Fell, has a line of classic white lace-up and slip-on shoes. Based in New York City, the company was launched by Founders Chloe Songer and Stuart Ahlum last year. But, the brand isn’t just a regular sneaker company. It’s a full-circle economy shoe company that’s creating zero-waste footwear.
According to the company’s website, about 2.4 billion pairs of shoes are sold in the U.S. every year. As many as 97 percent of all shoes will end up in a landfill each year. It takes leather soles about 40 years to decompose in the landfill, and rubber soles take twice as long to decompose. Thousand Fell recognizes that waste is a huge environmental issue and wants to be a part of the solution with its biodegradable footwear line.
The company’s shoes are all made with materials that can either be “biodegraded, recycled to make new shoes, or upcycled into materials for new projects.” The company uses items like recycled rubbers and bottles to make soles, leather-like uppers, and next generation laces. Other ingredients such as aloe vera, coconut husks, and sugar cane are also used to offer a soft-touch feel, stability, support, and comfort.
Thousand Fell’s mission is to be sustainable and to never send another sneaker to the landfill. And to get there, it’s incentivizing its customers to recycle their purchased products. When you’ve worn out your shoes, or simply don’t want them anymore, you can return your shoes to Thousand Fell at no cost.
“Thousand Fell owns the material feeds and covers the cost of recycling, as well as the resale or reintegration of recycled material back into new shoes and the issuance of the $20 recycling cash that is sent back to the consumer once they recycle,” wrote Ahlum in an email to TechCrunch.
In partnership with TerraCycle, customers can easily recycle their purchased products through the company’s “Thousand Fell Recycling Program”. All you have to do is place your shoes in any box you have. You create an account, request a prepaid UPS shipping label, print it, and affix it to the box. Then, you can mail them via UPS. Once your shoes are scanned for return, you’ll receive $20 that can be applied to your next Thousand Fell order.
When the company receives the shoes, they are catalogued, sorted, and broken down to be used to make raw recycled materials
“We create sneakers with a life cycle you can follow—and feel good about,” the company’s website states. By taking a step forward to create a zero-waste product that can be used and reused to create a new one, Thousand Fell is going full-circle and doing just that.