Garbage = Warm Feet? Surefoot Upcycles its Old Liners

The world’s biggest supplier of custom ski boots is thinking small.

Surefoot wants to shrink its impact on the earth. With 24 retail stores world-wide, Surefoot manufactures tens of thousands of foam liners for their line of ski boots. Additionally, Surefoot processes thousands more liners for customers wanting to upgrade their old liners. Disposing of all these used liners is problematic.

 

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Surefoot’s Todd Koenig with liners ready for their second life. Photo courtesy thesheetnews.com

 

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The liners, comprised of plastic and foam materials, take up to two thousand years to biodegrade in a landfill. And rather than just trying to find a recycling solution, Surefoot’s executive team also wanted to see if there was a way to give back.

So starting this season, Surefoot has teamed up with SAVEarth — an organization dedicated to repurposing salvageable waste to good causes — to ship its used liners to underdeveloped countries with cold climates such as Nepal and Mongolia where there is pressing need for warm, durable footwear.

“We simply paired our liners with an inexpensive, water-resistant rubber over-boot,” said Barry Woods, Surefoot’s Vice President of Product Development. “And the result was an insulated boot that will keep these people warm and dry in the severe winter conditions they face every year.”

The backstory starts with Dr. Mark Barry, a Canadian orthopedic surgeon who came into the Whistler Surefoot store to get custom foam injected liners for his ski boots. In a conversation with store manager Sam McDonald, Barry discovered that the (removed) liners were being thrown out into landfills despite Surefoot’s previous attempts to divert them. Barry then came up with a plan to collect these liners from Surefoot and re-purpose them.

 

Dr. Barry (l) and Surefoot volunteer Baksaikhan (r) distribute new boots in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. They've just given boots to a street sweeper who works in the extreme cold every day of the year.
Dr. Barry (l) and Surefoot volunteer Baksaikhan (r) distribute new boots in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. They’ve just given boots to a street sweeper who works in the extreme cold every day of the year. Photo courtesy SAVEarth.

With Surefoot on board to ship the liners to SAVEarth, Barry researched various types of rubber outer boots to find one that would work best for cold regions, and found the perfect model from Tingley Rubber Corporation. A pilot distribution project launched successfully last fall.

The result? More warm feet where they’re needed this winter.

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