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Het regenwoud beschermen met VEJA sneakers?
Mede-oprichter Sébastien Kopp van VEJA loopt niet te koop met hoe duurzaam zijn sneakers wel niet worden gemaakt. Voor hem is het eerder vanzelfsprekend, en hij vindt het minstens even belangrijk dat de schoenen gewoon heel erg mooi en aantrekkelijk zijn.
Op die manier worden de sneakers van VEJA een soort paard van Troye, die de doorgaans niet zo duurzame schoenenwereld binnendringen met een op een verantwoorde manier gemaakte variant. Een fragment uit een recent artikel over VEJA van het online magazine highsnobiety.com:
“In the concept stores, we don’t write on the walls ‘ecological cotton’,” explains Veja co-founder Sebastien Kopp while we’re sat in an air conditioned room in Rio Branco, the capital of Acre state where the wild rubber used in Veja’s sneakers is harvested. The temperature outside is well over 100°F.
“If I was a consumer and was confronted with all that [information], I’d be bored within one week,” continues Kopp. “If you put out a product from an aesthetic point of view and you care about it with the same weight as you care about the economic chain that created that product, then you don’t have to talk too much about the economic part. Especially when it’s to people who probably don’t care. And the thing is, I don’t care that they don’t care.”
Kopp’s line of argument may seem cynical, but it feels like it’s one rooted in cold hard economics and a life at the front line of the sustainable business movement. Distrustful of advertising and marketing, he finds the way in which bigger brands communicate their ethical credentials as “cheesy” and “probably not true”.
Heel interessant is ook de passage over de rubbertappers:
Two and a half thousand miles, one six-hour drive and a 60-minute boat ride up-river from Acre’s capital, a team of men and their families live in the Amazon forest and tap wild rubber from the trees that surround their home. Known as rubber tappers, the communities of people here are descendants of the ‘rubber soldiers’ of WWII and the people before them. Most were shipped into the forest from the poorer north east regions to tap and farm the rubber. In WWII, these ‘rubber soldiers’ were actually part of a wider agreement between Brazil and the United States after Japan occupied Malaysia and cut off the Allies’ main supply of rubber. After the war, they were denied the rights and benefits that were promised to them by the government. It wasn’t until the 1980s, and with a man named Chico Mendes, that the rubber tappers’ voices began to be heard – sparking the modern environmental movement in the process.
Now, Veja works closely with partners such as the state of Acre as well as actors like the WWF in successful projects like the Sky Rainforest Rescue scheme. These programs have each empowered the rubber tapper communities to create meaningful, productive industries. It has also helped connect their trade to other businesses in the northern hemisphere and around the world, creating profitable relationships on either side of the supply chain that actively help protect and sustain the rainforest. And, in the case of Veja, it’s also produced some pretty sharp sneakers as well.