Although not to everyone’s taste, Croc’s revenue in the Americas has steadily increased in recent years. In 2020, their revenue in this region reached nearly $250 million. Not bad for a shoe that many people consider to be ugly! As with all big brands, their environmental impact is under the microscope. How do they fare – are Crocs bad for the environment? The answer is not straightforward, but what is clear is that they are becoming a much more sustainable brand. Let’s take a look…
What are crocs made from?
The iconic Crocs shoe is made from their own foam resin material called Croslite – it is neither plastic nor rubber. Croslite is lightweight but supportive, making it ideal for lots of scenarios – from a day at work to a trip to the beach. They have also recently announced the introduction of a new material. In collaboration with materials giant Dow they have created a new bio-resin technology called Equilibrium. As well as using natural resources it may open up more options for disposal of the shoes after use. You can find out more about this exciting development here.
So, are Crocs bad for the environment?
Your crocs will outlive you!
Although we generally want our footwear to be durable, we don’t want them to live on for centuries. An item is said to be biodegradable if it can be broken down naturally by micro-organisms such as bacteria. Essentially, the components are returned to nature. Crocs are made from materials created by humans and are not biodegradable. Crocs will potentially hang around in landfill for several hundred years. This creates significant problems for the environment when it comes to their disposal. Since landfill can emit large amounts of greenhouse gasses and pollute local waterways, ideally we want to divert as many items as possible from there.
Other synthetic materials used in other Crocs products
The Crocs brand has grown their range over the years to include different types of shoes and even socks. Some materials, such as nylon, used in their other products have significant environmental impacts. Nylon, a plastic derived from fossil fuels, features in some products such as their cozy Croc boot. As well as not being biodegradable, its manufacture is water and energy intensive. This must be considered since the Crocs brand goes way beyond the iconic Croslite product line these days.
However, it’s not all bad news…
Crocs are durable
One of the great things about Crocs are that they are made to last. As well as saving you a bit money, this is positive in terms of environmental impact. Long lasting goods means that the resources used and waste produced will be minimized. Buying one pair of quality Crocs will be kinder to the environment than several pairs of shoes that may only last a fraction of the time.
Crocs can be recycled – just not by the standard collections
Crocs will, typically, not be accepted by your standard curbside collections (local variations apply – check with you recycling services). However, Crocs have made it simple to ensure others can use your footwear after you have moved on to a new style or color! A partner organization, Souls4Souls, will clean them up and pass them on to someone else to enjoy. Alternatively, you can pass them to a local charity of your choice – they are guaranteed great sellers, helping raise funds for good causes in the process.
Crocs are an environmentally conscious brand – and now vegan!
Like all brands, Crocs are not perfect when it comes to operating in a planet-friendly way. However, they are taking important steps and have ambitious goals when it comes to sustainability. By 2030, they aim to be a net zero brand by making sufficient alterations its use of materials, transport and packaging. Changing the main material for their shoe to the bio-resin is one of the ways they intend to do this. They also ditched all leather and animal-based products by the end of last year (2021). Leather, in particular, has been associated with negative environmental impacts – from greenhouse gas emissions to deforestation. Becoming a vegan brand represented a significant step in terms of their sustainability efforts.
The bottom line
Crocs present some significant problems for the environment – largely due to being made from synthetic materials. Their inability to biodegrade presents long-term challenges. Despite this, they are making significant steps forward in terms of sustainability. Their vegan status, as well as their commitment to reach net zero is moving the business to a more sustainable future.