BLOOM Foam sandals: flipping the script on harmful algae blooms.
Pond scum. It’s the kind of thing you’d call your worst enemy when no other description could communicate just how slimy and ‘eugh’ you find them. That layer of gross green on top of the backyard koi pond you’ve been meaning to clean forms from an explosion of algae growth in the water, fuelled by an imbalance of nutrients. The bad news is that your ornamental fish might not have survived the infestation. The worse news is that out-of-control algae growth is a much more far-reaching problem.
The rapid and imbalanced growth of algae is commonly referred to as harmful algae blooms, and it’s become an increasingly regular occurrence in freshwater systems and the ocean alike. Agricultural runoff loaded with fertilizers, sewage pollution and rising sea temperatures have all added to the regularity of algae blooms in the sea. These toxic ‘red tides’ affect multiple areas around the US, with Florida being particularly heavily impacted. Freshwater habitats are also at significant risk, with algae growth choking and poisoning delicately balanced ecosystems (the WWF Living Planet Report shows that freshwater ecosystems are the most threatened of all on Earth, and algae blooms are a significant problem). The good news is that with the right initiative and intervention, we can help solve the problem, thanks to the work of our friends at BLOOM.
The WWF Living Planet Report shows that freshwater ecosystems are the most threatened of all on Earth.
Turning a problem into a solution:
BLOOM uses algae to make high-performance foams, like the material we use in our supportive summer sandals. They filter algae from water, dry it out, turn it into pellets and then turn those pellets into foam that’s just as cushioning and durable as the purely petroleum-based materials used by most footwear manufacturers. Thanks to its natural thermoplastic qualities, algae, an incredibly abundant natural material, can be used to partially take the place of environmentally harmful petrochemicals. It’s quite a remarkable innovation when you really think about it. It takes a serious ecological threat, a real problem, and gives an innovative solution to that problem. At the same time it creates a partial solution to another, separate but related problem that we as people face: our widespread reliance of fossil fuels and harmful petrochemical based materials.
The end result is that BLOOM’s algae-based foams have up to 40% less impact on the environment than purely petroleum-based equivalents. They also require 35% less energy to process and produce. Once the algae has been removed, filtered water is returned to the original source, helping restore balance to the ecosystem previously threatened by the uncontrolled algae growth.
BLOOM's co-founder and CTO, Ryan Hunt, had the following to say: "Algae blooms are increasing in frequency and intensity due to a variety of human-induced factors. We at Bloom turn this negative into a positive by harvesting and transforming the algae blooms into bio-materials that can be used to improve the sustainability of footwear products. Together as a footwear community, we have the opportunity to leave a positive impact as shown through our partnership with SOLE. "
Doing everything we can to reduce and minimize our environmental footprint is essential to what we’re doing at SOLE. That’s why we use Bloom Algae Foam in all of our sandals that don’t use ReCORK recycled cork. We also have a Bloom Algae Foam insole in the footwear coming in the fall of this year, including the Jasper Wool Eco Chukka, the world’s most eco-friendly shoe.