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The Brest residents of Umòja launch the first biodegradable sneakers


Linen, hemp, cotton and rubber milk. This is the recipe for “MMEA”, for “plant” in Swahili, the 100% natural sneaker fromUmòja. The young Brest startup, installed in the premises of the Ensta Bretagne engineering school, had tried to make a name for yourself in ethical basketball, two years ago. She then noticed that it is very difficult to do without non-biodegradable materials. She rolled up her sleeves to achieve it. With success. Launched on March 28, its pre-order campaign by crowdfunding has reached its objectives in 24 hours and could exceed 700% by its end on May 12.

We work with only four ingredients, all biodegradable

“We worked two years to achieve this result,” explains Lancine Koulibaly, one of the two partners at the origin of the project. “We had to break down the sneakers, which usually contain more than 40 materials, most of which are petroleum-based, which makes recycling difficult. We work with only four ingredients, all of which are biodegradable. “

Direct supply from producers

While most of the 300 million sneakers discarded in France each year end up cremated, Lancine Koulibaly and Dieuveil Ngoubou have decided to go “as easy as possible. It is above all a lot of research and development, two years of chemical tests and prototypes to achieve this result. “

In detail: unbleached cotton, cultivated, harvested and spun artisanally in Burkina Faso, for the upper part. Linen for the laces, hemp reinforcements and rubber milk, a kind of latex, for the glue and the sole. Products with transparent origins, and direct supply from producers.

Do people prefer a $ 50 pair that is not responsible and pollutes, or a consciously produced pair that will last a long time?

“Everyone talks about recycling, but we cannot recycle indefinitely, it is not a lifelong solution for the environment, we need biodegradable”, underlines Lancine Koulibaly, who will soon bury a pair for observe how it degrades.

Obviously, all of this comes at a price. Classic soles cost € 3, rubber milk soles cost € 17. What explains the price of the pairs: 129 €. “Do people prefer a $ 50 pair that is not responsible and pollutes, or a consciously produced pair that will last a long time?” “Asks the entrepreneur. Anyway, the goal “is not to mass produce”, even if their sneakers are so successful thatthey sell to San Francisco. Precursor?

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