Thanks to our obsession with television and the recent switch from analog to digital broadcasting, there are plenty of old T.V. sets hanging out in closets and garages, waiting to be recycled. Sending them off to an electronics recycler could put some cash in your pocket, but it's not very creative. That's why vegan footwear designer Olsenhaus is making a switch of its own—by cladding its entire Fall/Winter 2010 collection of pumps, wedges, stiletto booties, and knee-highs in an innovative polyester microfiber made from trashed television screens.
From Toms to Timberland, many shoe designers have taken advantage of increased interest in earth-friendly fashion and released their own "green" shoes, but none are quite so chic as these faux-leather varieties.
For designer Elizabeth Olsen, phasing out petroleum-based faux leather in favor of something more sustainable is the logical next step in vegan fashion. But the incorporation of industrial waste shouldn’t be perceptible to the naked eye, she tells us. “The product needs to have substance to it, so you have to explain yourself or people would never know it was a) vegan or b) made from recycled TV sets,” she says. “It doesn’t have to look an Earth Shoe or a Birkenstock.”
The past decade has seen an incredible technological advancement, from Smart Phones to netbooks, and while each new version of these devices gets more efficient, these rapid changes have seen people replacing their electronics at an alarming rate.
No one wants to be the one with the obsolete computer, but this creates a large surplus of unwanted electronic products, or “e-waste.” Disposing of e-waste in landfills has the potential to cause severe human and environmental health impacts.
Earth911.org reports that in addition to “traditional” recycling programs, some electronics manufacturers and retailers also offer e-waste recycling. Many manufacturer-sponsored programs will accept and process their brand for free. Some accept other brands for a small fee.
Besides experimenting with a sole made from recycled rubber mingled with sawdust, Olsen is setting her sights on creating a heel derived from ground-up recycled-plastic pellets. “I want to do something abt that big island of trash in the Pacific,” she told Ecouterre.