What "being Sustainable" Means To Us

What "being Sustainable" Means To Us

Urgh – “sustainability” – I hate that word. It shouldn’t be a thing. Not really. We should all be mindful about the rubbish we are adding to our planet, right? And all the stuff we buy. But since sustainability it is a ‘thing’ - let's talk about it and what it truly means to us at Dubs.

We try not to treat ‘sustainability’ as a buzzword that we can anchor our brand against in the hope we can generate good pr. It's something we genuinely care about and strive to integrate into every aspect of our business

Our inspiration came from a real problem I faced as a new dad: my bonkers daughter's rapidly growing feet and the waste generated by outgrown shoes. During the first lockdown, when I lost my job, I saw the sheer wastefulness of children’s shoes firsthand. Many shoes were barely worn before destined for the bin. Shockingly, 2 million shoes are thrown into landfill each week in the UK alone, with children's shoes being a significant contributor. 

Gary, Dubs co-founder and designer extraordinaire shared my frustration. He knew that comfort, style, and sustainability had to coexist, but the industry’s waste was out of control.

So, during lockdown, we set about answering a simple question…“how do we make the Immortal Sneaker?” Mercifully Leila was still napping at lunchtime, so we used these 37 (😬) minutes to research, learn, re-learn and speak to everyone and anyone that had knowledge in shoemaking and sustainability. Eventually, The Dubs Universe was born, and we began to answer that question.

Much of my perspective is grounded in practical reality. We're human—we crave novelty, we require new things, and there's nothing inherently wrong with that. The issue for me lies in how we produce these new items and our attitude towards the possessions we own. Why do we toss items aside so readily? Couldn't they find new life through reuse, or benefit someone else? Can't we prioritise repairs over replacements? I delve into my mission of 'Changing the Relationship Kids Have With Their Stuff' in another post, here.

Before we even started -  I was adamant to make “being sustainable” easy. Why? Well, being a parent is tiring. I have zero time for most things, let alone trying my hardest to be “sustainable” and I’m co-founder of sustainable kids shoe brand!

So, whilst understating it can be challenging and overwhelming, we want to make it easy for everyone. By choosing Dubs, you are making a simple yet significant contribution to sustainability. Every pair of Dubs shoes you purchase is a step towards reducing waste, conserving resources, and promoting a circular economy.

We have developed and recently launched our innovative resale program that allows you to sell on outgrown Dubs in exchange for cash or Dubs vouchers. Simply put, we want to make sure the materials we use and the shoes we make are out of landfill and on kids' feet for longer.

Now we have that foundation – let’s look at design

Every aspect of our design process is influenced by our commitment to sustainability AND the product's end of life.

Have you noticed how chunky our sole is – and how it’s across all our styles? Not just because we think it looks dope, but it protects the upper of the shoe. It was a very expensive sole. We could have bought one off-the-shelf, for $2 but we invested, designed, re-designed a sole that not only looks stylish, but also can protect the shoes, making them easier and clean and refurbish, and then easier for you guys to re-sale. Also beyond aesthetics and functionality, we use durable materials and construction techniques to ensure that our shoes can withstand the rigours of active kids, reducing the need for frequent replacements.

What are our Material choices?

We chose the most planet-friendly materials we can get our hands on… such as recycled plastic bottles and sugarcane. These materials not only reduce waste and carbon footprint but also set a precedent for innovation in sustainable footwear. Using recycled plastic bottles, we transform waste into durable, high-quality fabric that forms the upper part of our shoes. This process significantly reduces the amount of plastic that would otherwise end up in landfills or oceans. Similarly, by incorporating sugarcane-based materials, we minimise the use of petroleum-based products, thus lowering our environmental impact and supporting the growth of renewable resources.

And finally, our supply chain

Ethical Production Practices Sustainability is not just about environmental stewardship; it’s also about ethical practices.

Our ethical sourcing commitment is outlined in the 'Dubs Charter', ensuring standards for worker well-being, legal compliance, and environmental responsibility. Every partner signs this contract, binding them to our principles. Furthermore, the charter draws upon ILO Core Labor Standards, in order to advance social and environmental responsibility.

We visit our factories at least once a year, reflecting our dedication to transparency and continuous improvement, building a supply chain that contributes to a sustainable future

But what I really want is for Dubs to eventually be an educational platform for kids. Through the lens of our products, I’d love to be able to influence a change in the relationship kids have with the things they own; making them aware how small changes in the way they view their clothes can make a big difference, and build brand awareness around that.

Show the kids that buying second-hand clothes can be more budget-friendly, leaving spare cash to do other fun things, days out with the family…. or that mega bar of chocolate

And, “hero” the fact that wearing something that has had multiple owners is actually a badge of honour.  For example, let's give each shoe its own story, its own history. If this trainer could talk, it’ll say it’s been to this festival, climbed this many trees; what adventures are YOU going to take these shoes on?

Sustainability is an ongoing journey. We’ll get things right; we’ll get things wrong. But as long as our foundation remains true, and our decision making honors our own Dubs Charter while delivering high-quality, stylish, and comfortable shoes for children, then we’re doing good.

We’ll always be 100% honest and transparent, and we are proud of what we have achieved so far in such a short space of time, pushing the boundaries of sustainability in the footwear industry.

One day, we’ll make the immortal sneaker…. And have a cartoon series on cbeebies!

Co-Founder & CEO

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