Presented by Vans
For the past few years now, surf brands have been trying to find their own sustainable path forward. Wetsuits made from Yulex, planting trees to off-set carbon emissions, growing surfboard blanks out of agave, a whole movement has been gaining momentum for years.
Surfers like Vans ambassador Ainara Aymat are tapped into this. Having taken a step back from the competitive grind, Ainara's turned her hand to other ventures within surfing. Largely though, she's free to do what she likes, including travel around a bit. “I know travelling is far from being sustainable,” she said. “But I try to make the right choices in my day to day and be aware of what's going on.
“I guess we've all got a long way till we get to be as sustainable as we can possibly be,” she said. “But it's nice to see some brands are taking steps towards sustainability.
“That means, we need to find ways to not harm the environment, or at least find ways that try not to. It’s not easy to be sustainable in this society but I think it’s important to always be aware of it. That's the first step, then try to make the right choice and find the balance, so you know you are doing your best.”
Growing up on the Basque coast, in the surf town of Zarautz – which is home to a quality surf beach, with numerous peaks along its stretch – surfing has been a part of Ainara's DNA since she was a toddler.
But it wasn't until her mid-teens that things started to change, eventually ditching the tour qualification grind and focussing on other more complex means of expression, dropping an edit or two along the way, which we covered, here.
Most recently, this Basque warrior has been enjoying a summer of small waves at home. “Early morning workouts, lonely walks with my dogs, hanging out with my friends and surfing in Zarautz pretty much everyday this summer.”
Sustainability and Ainara go together like hand in wetsuit glove. It's fitting then that Ainara's long-term partner Vans recently dropped their new UltraRange VR3 kick, a fresh commitment to pushing forward their sustainability practices.
As part of the R&D process, the folk at the great black and white checkered HQ actually tapped up surfboard shaper Pepe Rivas, who has been using offcuts to make surfboards for years. It was this philosophy of repurposing and reusing that's at the core of Vans' latest shoes.
"Rethinking the materials, process and overall impact, Pepe's aim it to reimagine the lifecycle of a product. Also, the midsole of this new line is made from plant-based materials, the rubber naturally-sourced as opposed to petroleum-derived synthetic rubber," says the Vans team. "Committed to reducing impact on the planet for future generations, we want to reinforce our sustainability goals with the UltraRange VR3, which follows strict materials guidelines with one or a combination of regenerative, responsibly sourced renewable, and recycled materials that make up at least 30% of the product."
Now, the technical stuff: "The re-engineered and rebuilt UltraRange VR3 has an EcoCush midsole made of at least 50% biobased EVA foam partially derived from plant-based sources. The shoe also features Vans all-new EcoWaffle rubber compound made with responsibly sourced natural rubber (instead of petroleum-derived synthetic rubber) obtained from sources that follow proven sustainable practices intended to reduce impacts on the planet and is engineered to maintain the grip and durability for which Vans is known.
"The one-piece knit upper is made from a blend of 50% organic cotton, 36% recycled PET, and 14% recycled nylon. The upper is designed to reduce production waste compared to Vans’ traditional cut and sew uppers, and leverages leather sourced from a tannery rated gold or silver for environmental responsibility by the Leather Working Group. Offered in chive and cobblestone colorways this season, the UltraRange VR3 retains the comfort-driven versatility that’s synonymous with the UltraRange, but with a more responsible approach."
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