Summer is officially on its way back to our shores and along with it comes a stalwart of every Australian wardrobe – thongs! But as with any product that is ubiquitous and disposable these pedalian accessories are leaving a large footprint on our planet. They are often cheaply and unethically produced from non-biodegradable, non-recyclable, toxic materials – so when an inevitable plugger blow-out strikes they either end up in the bin or our waterways. In July 2012 a marine conservation group, Tangaroa Blue, recovered a mind-boggling 4,500 thongs in a 5 day clean-up of a remote Queensland beach!
Luckily we can all breathe a flat-footed sigh of relief because there are plenty of ethical ways to shod our feet without forsaking style or comfort. Check out these amazing companies that are leading the way in their fair, zero-waste approach to thong production…
Souls Massage Thongs - 'Fairly' comfortable!
This beach-loving Aussie company produce their thongs using a biodegradable combination of EVA foam and natural rubber (both recyclable) which are sourced from a family owned and operated natural rubber plantation in Sri Lanka. Not only do these plantations hold a strong stance on fair work principles but the manufacturers even boast an on-site recycling facility which uses the offcuts in other products to minimise the environmental impact. You can see the whole funky range here.
Feelgoodz - Cradle to grave consideration!
Feelgoodz are an American company that have really considered all the implications that occur along the entire lifespan of a thong. The 100% natural rubber is produced fairly in a way that supports small-scale farmers and ensuring they receive a fair market wage. Thongs are then imported in a way which minimises CO2 emissions. Once your thong has reached the end of its life Feelgoodz run an Upcycling initiative known as the Unflop Campaign where thongs can be collected and made into other products like laptop bags, mouse pads or doormats. And if that is too hard they are biodegradable anyway so you can just chuck ‘em on the compost pile if you prefer!
Paperflops - the ultimate in upcycled fashion!
I’ve heard of using old newspapers to wash your windows but wearing them as shoes? Paperflops are leading the way in innovative style creating funky footwear from upcycled newspapers and other recycled materials which include root from old palm trees, coconut shells, and 100% natural rubber. PaperFlops also employ underprivileged people (such as street children and disabled people) throughout Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The workshops train and educate these people in arts and crafts to creating amazing products so they can be entirely self-sufficient.
Photo: 3 girls throwing thongs in air, Hayley Turner/Tangaroa Blue
Photo: Aqua and Pink Thongs, Image courtesy of www.soulsthongs.com
Photo: Paperflops Upcycled Thongs, Image courtesy of www.ulule.com