Sustainability

At Casca, we’re determined to make the world’s most advanced everyday footwear. It’s not just about our technology, but about making progress around health, sustainability and the entire product lifecycle — because better products can create a better future for all. 

In 2021, we know that being advanced means implementing ethical and sustainable practices – what we like to call slow fashion. Here’s how: 

 

SLOW FASHION

At Casca, we make long-lasting, versatile footwear in proven silhouettes. Timeless designs that enable you to do more, with less. We back every pair of shoes up with a 2-year warranty and design with enduring materials like our Everest-grade rubber. 

The result? Products that can replace numerous alternatives, for years to come – Buy less, waste less. 

In order to further reduce waste and consumption, we produce footwear in small batches and only reorder when styles have sold out. 


MINIMAL OFF-CUTS

We intentionally design to reduce off-cuts and wasted material. Here’s how:

  • Our knit uppers are seamless and crafted from a single panel of fabric. Unlike other fabric shoes, our material requires no pattern-cutting or trimming creating virtually no scraps.
  • The Casca outsole, insole, and heel stabilizer are molded (additive), rather than die-cut and sculpted (subtractive) from large sheets of material. This results in roughly 2% material waste, as opposed to an industry standard of 15%.
  • Scraps from our leather production are ground down and pressed into a ‘recycled suede’ material for future products (hint hint).

THE LEATHER

Casca leather is produced by a Leather Working Group - GOLD-certified company – the highest sustainable standard for sourcing and processing. In addition, they have obtained certification from Higg Index and ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals) for their exemplary processes. All treatments are water-based, hides are cured with low-energy UV, and leather sludge waste is reduced by over 95%. The company has also invested in over 5000 square metres of solar heating panels and recycles 70% of water on-site with a state-of-the-art treatment facility.  

Furthermore, the unprocessed leathers are a by-product of the beef industry. The natural cowhides are supplied by one of America’s leading food science companies, and shipped to our factory in large quantities for increased efficiency. 

While “vegan leather” is often marketed as the sustainable alternative, this is misleading. Most alternatives require vast amounts of energy or fossil fuels to produce. Even popular new developments like pineapple leather are composed of over 40% petroleum-based plastics and cultivation is so resource intensive that as demand grows, so will deforestation. 

Last but not least, there’s the issue of durability. The alternatives don’t last, which results in more shoe production and more waste in our landfills. As we actively search for emerging solutions, we design with consciously-sourced leathers because our research indicates that this is the best when considering the full product lifecycle. 


THE PACKAGING

Our shoe boxes are crafted from 100% recycled paper and printed with soy-based inks. SmartFit™ insoles and socks use food-safe zip-pouches that are both reusable and recyclable.


ETHICAL MANUFACTURING

Our principal manufacturer is Taiwanese-owned and operated, with manufacturing in southern China. The shoemakers are experienced and earn a set living wage – they are never paid “per piece” which leads to unsafe and unethical work environments. Many employees even hold stake in the business, an incredibly rare attribute in footwear manufacturing. 

Our team at Casca has personally visited every factory we work with to ensure high ethical standards. 


THE PRODUCTION CYCLE

70% of shoe waste comes from the manufacturing process (MIT, 2014), before shoes even reach the customer. It’s for this reason that we’re meticulous in our design and manufacturing process. 

All major shoe components are produced within 100 miles of our factory. The raw materials are sourced locally or shipped in efficient quantities. U.S leather for instance, is of much higher quality and enables a higher yield than local leather. It is shipped in bulk and the processing work is completed within 100 miles of our shoemaking factory.

Sadly, it’s not uncommon to see materials marketed as green or eco-friendly, even when their production cycles are highly unsustainable. In recent years, Merino wool has gained popularity as an eco-alternative in footwear. On paper, this makes sense as wool is renewable, but in reality, the material is travelling from New Zealand to Italy to China to the US, all before the customer receives it. It’s soft and flexible nature loses shape quickly, developing holes and becoming waste far quicker than more traditional materials. 


THE RECYCLED KNIT

While our company ethos was built on ethical practices and a slow fashion ideology, we know we can always be improving. The Avro Recycled Knit is made from 100% post-consumer plastic bottles, while maintaining the same durability our customers have come to expect from the standard Avro Knit. Approximately 7 bottles, that would otherwise end up in our oceans and landfills, are saved per pair. 

How does that work? Post-consumer bottles are collected, ground into small chips, then made into fiber which is used to spin yarn. These yarns are knitted to create the fabric uppers, which are certified by the Global Recycle Standard and in compliance with Greenmark environmental specifications. 

By 2022, all of our knit uppers will be made from recycled or renewable materials. 

 

THE FUTURE

What does it mean to be ‘green’?

The team at Casca discussed this point in detail when we started planning the release of our first recycled material shoe. Tackling sustainability is not simple, especially with shoes that require a range of different materials and processes. 

As consumers, we need to be careful. There’s plenty of greenwashing, and too often, products are marketed as sustainable with one easy-to-digest selling point. Without understanding the entire product lifecycle, many companies do more harm than good.  

What we do know is that making a pair of shoes that lasts a few short months before going to the landfill is not a good solution. And marketing ‘eco’ materials that secretly cause more damage to the environment, is not okay. 

Casca is less than 2 years old, but we believe that independent research is critical, both as a company and as consumers. As our company grows, so does our impact so we have to be diligent about getting it right. And the gateway toward improvement involves transparency, open-dialogue and accepting that we can always be better. 

Next time you see a sustainable product or ad, dig deeper and consider the entire supply chain and lifecycle.

Have questions for us? Send us an email at info@casca.com

We’re currently working on a more extensive sustainability plan and further documentation of our processes, so check back in the future for updates.