A Finnish start-up, Rens, is making shoes from waste coffee. Every pair is made from 300 grams of used coffee grounds— the equivalent of 21 cups of coffee. They are waterproof and vegan and also contain the recycled material of six plastic water bottles. Founded in the heart of Helsinki, the idea started as a conversation between two sneakerheads — Son Chu and Jesse Tran (pictured below) — about the environmental impacts of the global sneaker industry and the less-than-stylish sustainable options on the market. Thousands of pairs have been sold across the world since their launch in November 2019.
The start-up is not the only company to reinvent food waste. Luxury German brand Hugo Boss has made shoes from pineapple leaf fibers, and Swedish fashion retailer H&M makes the soles of sandals from algae. British designer Stella McCartney is even making clothes from mushrooms. The fashion industry has a huge environmental impact, consuming large amounts of land, energy, and water, with the United Nations estimating that the fashion sector generates 20 percent of the world’s wastewater.