Quite by chance, Jay and Jyotsna, a couple who reside in Mumbai read an article about a man in America who makes shoes out of scrap tyres that are imported all the way from Indonesia. Inspired by this, they decided to pursue this shoe-tyre idea themselves and decided to go door hopping down the dingy lanes of Thakkar Bappa Colony, near Central Mumbai where a lot of cobblers reside and work, to ideate with them.
After months of persuading the exasperated cobblers, experimenting with natural materials and heaps of perseverance, they launched Paaduks (footwear in Sanskrit) in 2013. Challenges were dealt with on a daily basis but they met people who supported their journey soul to sole. Jidnyasa, Carol, Nasim are an integral part of the core team and are responsible for handling marketing, designing and production respectively.
This wonderful team doled out 2,000 handcrafted tyre-sole shoes last year to a delighted ever-growing audience across the globe.
SAVING THE WORLD ONE SHOE AT A TIME
While there are limited efforts to upcycle scrap tyres in India, tyres are mainly recycled to make conveyor belts, yoga mats, rubber ends of chairs, etc. using chemical processes that are immensely harmful to the environment and the ones that are not recycled end up as landfills.
Paaduks made an environment-conscious decision to upcycle scrap tyres and use that as raw material for their shoes. Slightly difficult to use, but upcycled tyres involve no chemical processes and can be washed and used directly. About 350 kilograms of rubber (from scrap tyres) can be upcycled to make 1000 shoes. We’re talking big numbers here and understandably each shoe that you buy makes a huge positive impact on the environment.
THE COBBLER STORY (THE FORGOTTEN SHOE-ELVES)
Cobblers are pretty much on their own, armed with incredible talent and swiftness these forgotten shoe-elves sitting on the footpath are a fast diminishing community.
As told to us by Paaduks, most unbranded shops (in India) display shoes that are directly sourced from the cobblers. They are asked to invest their own money to create a line of shoes anywhere between 40-60 pairs for which the cobbler has to take a loan. Once the collection is ready they are paid only a partial amount, a very small percentage for the efforts and labor put in and are asked to start working on the next collection. Due to delayed payments and exploitation by retailers and wholesalers, most cobblers are stuck in a never-ending debt-cycle for years adversely affecting their families.
Paaduks, on learning the difficulties they face have consciously decided to help them in a wholesome way by following fair-trade policy and most importantly, paying them on time.
Paaduks currently designs shoes for men and women, using vegan and natural materials and you can find these stylish shoes on their website for sale. If their endeavor has inspired you, please leave a comment below and let’s talk about how each of us can make a contribution.
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