With an estimated two billion people worldwide infected or dying each year due to the spread of diseases contracted through unprotected feet, Greensole is a novel idea which takes care of environmental impact, innovation and profitability, providing comfortable footwear to people at affordable prices. Nancy Varghese speaks to Shriyans Bhandari about his noble initiative
What inspired you to take up an initiative like Greensole?
Greensole was conceived from our own problem of discarding used sports shoes. There are 1.2 billion people who do not have footwear while 35 crore sports shoes are discarded every year. We want to provide footwear to every needy in the world by 2023 and it is the magnitude of the cause that keeps us going!
Tell us what Greensole is all about and what the process is like.
Every year 350 million pairs of sports shoes are discarded, which towards the end of their life end up in landfills and upon incineration generate around two million tons in emissions. There is a loop in the life cycle of a sports shoe. This loop cannot be closed until a sports shoe is made 100 per cent bio-degradable and free from PET, EVA, PU foam, nylon and rubber. But with our idea the life cycle of a shoe is elongated, where it can be reused multiple times as comfortable slippers at a low cost, thus creating value out of non bio-degradable waste.
We have tie ups with sports organizations, schools and sports clubs, which are providing us with discarded sports shoes. We have also installed boxes (sponsored) at public spaces where people drop in their waste sports shoes, after which the sports shoes are sorted according to general sizes and washed. Then the shoes sole is detached from the shoe using a hot blower. Then they are washed and are wiped with tolin, which helps in disinfecting the used sports shoes. After that the shoe soles are put on a model last (mould) to determine its size, pattern and accordingly a upper is prepared and stored. Meanwhile, the shoe soles are painted and numbered. As and when the orders come the sole and upper are pasted to make slippers (JIT).
How big is your team?
Our team consists of our co-founder, 10 workers, two interns, 14 volunteers and several third parties like the designer and accountant.
How do you find people to be a part of your initiative who truly care about it the way you do?
We have just completed our first round of recruitment. Interested candidates were asked to fill out a questionnaire which I had designed in a way to find out whether a candidate was genuinely interested or not. Questions included, ‘how have you contributed to conserving the environment so far’, and more. We got good response and had to select from a large pool of applicants.
How did you decide on the location for recycling the discarded footwear and remaking them?
There is a colony in Mumbai that has two lakh workers manufacturing footwear, so finding an ideal location for our unit was not a tough task. Though, we had to go a long way in teaching workers to adapt to new ways of manufacturing footwear. FDDI Kolkata helped us in giving the technical assistance required to execute the project.
What would you say are the top three skills required to run an initiative such as this?
Perseverance, recruitment and execution.
Do you have other initiatives that you plan to take up in the near future?
I have not thought about it yet, but it would be something in the field of recycling.
What advice would you give to individuals who are as passionate about initiatives such as this, but are apprehensive about succeeding in the same?
I believe that if you do anything with all your heart you never fail at it. You might pivot but you will definitely succeed. One should go after what they are passionate about, it will be tough but truly worth it! This is my favourite quote by Steve Jobs: “Everything would change when you realise that things around you are built by individuals no smarter than you”.
1. Something that you feel passionately about?
Greensole, running and photography
2. Who would you consider a role model in your life?
Sir Ratan Tata
3. What are some of your hobbies?
Photography, running and reading autobiographies
4. The proudest moment of your life would be?
Winning a school cross country race. This was the first time I had won something significant and realised a goal
Volume 4 Issue 12