Creative Shoes Combine Concepts of Green and Practicality

Saturday, October 5, 2013
Creative shoes combine concepts of green and practicality

Have you ever thought that the third world country can also breed outstanding footwear designer? After seeing the country's increasingly serious environmental pollution, Ethiopian designer Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu started to remould the dumped tires into shapes of shoes and established her own handmade shoe brand -- soleRebels. For the unique design and concepts of environmental protection, Bethlehem has been featured on the American and European media, such as CNN, New York Times and BBC.

SoleRebels manufactures from recycled, weather-beaten tires and mixture of locally-sourced natural fiber ingredients such as the ancient Koba plant (an indigenous plant which has been cultivated in Ethiopia for over several thousand years) and organic Abyssinian jute fiber which are used mainly in creating the mid-soles of SoleRebels shoes. By blending this ancient recycling tradition with contemporary, western-influenced, hip shoe designs, SoleRebels has built a successful footwear brand utilizing a production process that is zero carbon production and very eco-sensitive.

Chinese bamboo technologies help protect African environment

Ethiopia has an urgent demand for firewood. About a century ago, 35% of its territory was covered by woods, but by 2000, the figure had dropped to 3%. Since 1st century BC, Ethiopia has moved its capital for 5 times due to fuel exhaustion. It had tried to address the problem of forest deterioration through growing trees and introducing eucalyptus, but the large-scale afforestation drive failed to combat with forest destruction. Although eucalyptus is the tree with good reproducibility, it has the disadvantage of huge water demand, which is not suitable for the water-scarce Ethiopia. During the past 5 years, Ethiopia began to realize that bamboo is a profitable and environmental-friendly solution. The International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) presented its work on developing new bamboo charcoal technologies for Africa last week (2 December), at the sidelines of the UN Climate Change meeting (COP 17) in Durban, South Africa.

The initiative is the first to transfer bamboo charcoal technologies from China to Sub-Saharan Africa to produce 'green' biofuels using locally available bamboo, which is indigenous to many parts of the continent.

It is funded by the European Union and the Common Fund for Commodities, and aims to encourage the use of bamboo charcoal and firewood rather than the forest wood on which around 80 per cent of Sub-Saharan Africa's rural population depends for fuel.

Bamboo not only can be made bamboo charcoal which is more effective and cleaner than wood and charcoal, but also is a good building material that can be used to produce floor, furniture, and textile.


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