Mari and Tom have been our ambassadors for quite some time now…
We are such fans of them, their sustainable mindset and how they are choosing to float around on the water, on their beautiful boat called ‘Midnight Blue’ - we would definitely like to try this lifestyle at some point. They have managed to test the sneakers in the water, on land, but mostly ON the water on Midnight Blue.
“Caution! Once you get them you can never buy non-sustainable shoes ever again, it becomes part of your identity 🙂” Mari, Serenity Explorers
Sustainability within sailing
Ocean trash is one of the biggest polluters in the world. According to a report from 2015 over 8 billion tons of plastic enters the ocean every year. (source)
Over the years Mari and Tom have witnessed all of the plastics in the ocean, but also trash in general. In 2020, they wanted to change their way of sailing by making it more sustainable and started researching for sustainable equipment.
When living on a boat there is not a lot of space and you have to pack lightly, but smart. Now it is always very important to Mari and Tom that the gear they bring onboard has a minimal impact on the environment and consists of less plastic.
We think that this is just a huge step towards a more sustainable future and absolutely love the approach that they have. They definitely did their research!
Earlier this year, they also asked us if we could sew an upcycled sleeve for their sail - which we will definitely do, once we expand our product line.
Sneakers are, believe it or not, a big part of the ‘trash in the ocean’ problem. In 2018 the average American, bought 7 pairs of shoes. Most of the sneakers that are made today, are made from plastics and are not able to be recycled properly, so they end up as trash (source) or potentially end up in the ocean. Every time we wash our clothes or walk around in shoes made from plastics, microplastics are released into the environment, which is a huge problem to our animals, agriculture and our (us - humans) intake of microplastics. To be more exact, clothing and textiles are considered to be 35% of the microplastic release. (source)
Our VAER sneakers are made from mostly rubber, but can be recycled into new soles after the end of use. Which means that we generate less trash and microplastics in the ocean (off course only if the sneakers are returned to us when they can no longer be used).
To be part of the solution, Mari and Tom chose to have their own ‘cleaning the ocean’ days. If you want to join one of their excursions or clean up ocean days, I am sure that they would love to have you on board! We have still not joined one of their sailing trips, but would definitely want to, since it always looks absolutely amazing, beautiful and not to mention cozy in their company.
While on the water, Mari and Tom also take the time to do some cleaning of the ocean - we really love this approach and believe that if we all take small steps like this, we can really change the planet for the better altogether.
photo from one of their clean up ocean days.
Choosing the perfect sustainable equipment
While researching what clothing and which equipment they should bring on their sailing trip back in 2021, they came across VAER. For Mari and Tom, one of the most important features of the VAER sneakers was the nature friendly approach - that we use discarded textiles that would otherwise have been wasted, instead of creating new materials. We just take this as a huge compliment - that they wanted OUR SNEAKERS!
Although we still have some plastics in our sneakers, we are continuously trying to make them more sustainable, as well as comfortable and durable.
On top of that, another important feature for Mari and Tom, was that the sneakers were durable and could withstand the salty water. Mari already started testing them for this, after receiving the sneakers in the summer of 2021. When I asked Mari if they were still lasting after all of the testing, she answered:
“Ohh, hell yes! I wanted to test them, if they will survive our sailing lifestyle in Norway, so I have wetted them… as well as leaving them out in the hot sun the whole day and they survived. Now after a year of wearing them they keep the color, and only a minor scratches from metal boat parts are apparent. They are keepers, we had them on while crossing Norwegian „mys HORN“ Stadt, which is quite nasty place even for skilled sailors. So no change, we are even considering getting a second pair to wear on shore or for jogging.”
After all of the testing in salt water, it is very comforting to hear that the sneakers are still lasting.
The importance of footwear
When sailing, there are a few things that you need to be aware of when choosing your footwear. According to Mari, this need is different to all individual sailors, as there are different sailing styles and techniques. Mari and Tom mostly sail on wind and sometimes in quite hard conditions, and therefore the most important feature of a good sailing sneaker is that it should not be slippery. The deck can often become wet, so it is important that the shoe has a good grip at all times as well as covering some of the ankle and toes, so that you don’t get caught in metal parts or ropes on the deck.
However, they are also very obsessed with keeping the deck of Midnight Blue clean and shiny, and for this reason it is important that the soles are white, so that it doesn’t get scratches and get dirty from the colored sole. Mari and Tom use their sneakers almost daily (besides from on rainy days) - but they mostly use them on the boat.
“I have to admit, sometimes we get them salty, when jumping from our small dingy to get to a beach or other king of civilization 🙂”
Luckily we listen to our customers and have made a few changes to the sneakers to make it more comfortable. However Mari does confess that she had to get used to the VAER sneakers in the beginning. “Well to be honest, for the first month of wearing them they were quite stiff, but after a few walks it was not a problem anymore. Plus I saw that the new design is super flexible, so we are happy that the feedback was implemented so soon.(thumbs up)”
It is very important to us that we have a comfortable product, while also being sustainable. We therefore love getting reviews and feedback from our customers, so that we continuously can improve our sneakers.
While writing about sustainable products and ocean waste, we thought it would be a good opportunity to share some of our suggestions to products made with care or ocean waste. Please feel free to add some more, if you have any good suggestions for your fellow readers!
Pond - swimming wear for men. Made from recycled nylon scraps.
Copenhagen Cartel - swimming wear for females. Made from ocean waste.
Suntribe - Sunscreen that is reefsafe and without any synthetic chemicals, preservatives and perfumes.
HerobyAhlgreen - Responsible clothing made on each customer's measurements.
Bakano - Upcycled bags made from old leather sofas or jackets.