So what classifies a material as being "sustainable" and how do we actually know if we making a positive impact.
Let's start with our first love - our cork leather fabric. Cork is primarily found around the Mediterranean Ocean, which is believed to be due to the warm climate, with the biggest producers of cork being Portugal. Cork is regarded as being one of the most natural, and sustainable materials in the world due to its harvesting and manufacturing processes.
A "sustainable" material needs to have the ability to be sourced time and time again, without causing environmental harm and which will ensue environmental longevity.
The cork is harvested by hand from the cork tree, causing no damage to the tree itself, only extracting the bark of the tree. The bark is then boiled, to soften, and laid out to dry which takes 4-6 weeks. The bark of the tree then begins to regrow, and after roughly 7-10 years the bark of the tree will be ready to be harvested again. The cork oak tree can live up to 350 years. The tree's are clearly marked, and are monitored to ensure the tree is not used for any harvesting until such time that the bark has fully regrown.
Our latest addition to Reefer - another great sustainable material in the form of hemp. Hemp is regarded as super sustainable due to the less needs it requires to grow; less water, no pesticides or herbicides, and on top of that it is said that the hemp plant returns 60% - 70% of the nutrients it takes from the soil.
Hemp fabric is made with the long strands of fibers that make up the hemp plant. The strands are then separated and then undergo a process called "retting", which is the separation from the bark of the plant. Finally the strands are then spun together to form a hemp textile.
It's important that we unpack the true value of sustainability when looking at the types of materials we use. What sustainable impact are these materials adding to our natural environments. If these materials have true added value, the next big question is how will they hold up in the form of a durable product? Reefer has tried, tested and approved these materials in the form of sneakers.