Last week we got an email from some guys out in San Francisco who were putting on a beach clean up and asked us to help spread the word. We also found out that they are up to making some pretty cool products in addition to their interest in helping to clean up Ocean Beach. After a bit more research, it turns out, the company, IndoSole, is taking old motorbike tires and are turning them into some pretty killer sandals (if you have even been to Bali, you’ll know that there can’t be any shortage of them). Check out what they have to say about their process, green-washing, giving back and more…
What is the typical process of creating an IndoSole sandal? How long does it take? Where do you find your materials? How many people’s hands does it pass through in the process?
All materials are salvaged from landfills in Bali and are handmade in our workshop by local Balinese. The production process of each pair involves a minimum of four people at various stages. First the tires must be sourced; a tire courier salvages the tires from various landfills. He then delivers them to the workshop where they are sorted, washed, and cut into four pieces (each tire produces two pair). Finally, the sandal straps and uppers are hand sewn and adhered to the tire sole.
How do IndoSoles actually help the planet and/or the economy?
The soles of our sandals feature a “re-purposed” motorbike tire that has been worn too thin to have effective tread. During the production of our sandals, there is no melting down of materials, which protects the environment from additional toxins and gases. All the materials within our production line—vegan suede, banana leaf, grass mat and burlap– are locally sourced from Indonesia, which not only utilizes the organic path but also gives IndoSole products their “roots” character. The motorbike is the main mode of transportation in Indo so as the fourth most populous country in the world, one can only imagine how many neglected tires are contrasting with the serene beauty. Instead of these tires being burned at the landfill releasing carbon dioxide, they are reincarnated into footwear. In addition, IndoSole employs Balinese craftspeople at above fair wages to help provide opportunity for their families.
What does it take to maintain being a “green” or “sustainable” company?
We built the foundation of this company from re-purposing materials – miscellaneous food wrappers are used for hang tags, tote bags are constructed from recycled rice bags and of course motorbike tire soles on our footwear. We love the creativity of developing new ways to keep trash out of the landfills. We’re able to stay in alignment with sustainability because our production process of IndoSole footwear does not require any fuel-powered machines, just strong hands and minds.
Obviously IndoSoles is not only talking the talk but you are also walking the walk. How do you avoid the “green washing” stigma?
We live in a world where many businesses operate through the lens of greed and money. There is no doubt that money needs to be generated to sustain a business for long-term growth, yet the market capitalism ideology of reaping profits at the cost of our sensitive environment and creating the disparity of wealth amongst our global brothers and sisters illustrates inefficiency. Definitely some companies have been put in check with “Corporate Social Responsibility” over the last few years and it’s an optimistic outlook, but much more is needed to make consciousness the primary standard in the business world. IndoSole was an idea that sprouted from a visible problem in Indo and our contribution is to craft footwear. We would like others not to neglect those “what if” moments because those can actually make a difference.
It all started on a surf trip to Bali in 2004; I found a unique pair of sandals while also catching a glimpse of one landfill and the idea was born. After many time lapses from Bali to San Francisco within the last six years, we have managed to refine and produce our sandals…with a few crazy adventures along the way. Indo is truly a captivating country where chaos and beauty collide. Whether it’s the pure stoke of the locals or the possibility to remove yourself from the mainstream culture on a picturesque beach, Indo is an amazing place to live, work and SURF. Despite all the challenges, I can’t imagine a more spiritual and self-rewarding place to do business.
In terms of giving back, do you feel it is better to create a recycled product or to do something like what Tom’s Shoes does by giving shoes to the under-privileged?
In my opinion, both are phenomenal concepts. TOMS is a company we are inspired by and respect like a big brother. We hope to have the success of giving back to the community at the scope TOMS has accomplished. They have found a great niche by designing stylish footwear, while in return, taking care of less fortunate people by providing shoes. For us, we’re on a spiritual level with Indonesia and want to try our best to preserve its’ natural beauty by saving tires and other materials from further polluting Indonesian landfills. One of my favorite film scenes is the Indo segment in “Morning of the Earth” because the cinematography encapsulates the past really well. One knows that we’ll never experience Indo like it was in the 60s, but it’s in our best interest to educate on a local level and be proactive to preserve its’ rich culture and surf history. There’s a mutualistic relationship that needs to be nurtured between developed and developing nations because one has been blessed with the opportunity to be educated while the other demonstrates the art of living in a resourceful way.
Where does one find IndoSoles for purchase?
In our first year of business we have hand selected our partners and joined forces with respected retail shops that share similar values. Indo sandals can be found in various areas of California, the Northwest, Hawaii and the Northeast. Indo’s will also be available for sale in Canada and Japan in the near future and may also be purchased direct via our website: www.indosole.com (Free Shipping!)
Thank you and Terima Kasih for your love and support,
The IndoSole Crew