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Eco-Friendly Rain Gear: Natural Rubber Boots

by Elke Erschfeld

Rain boots are the perfect commuter accessory for fall and winter. They keep your feet dry and can be quite a fashion statement with so many colorful options out there. But did you ever consider the environmental impact they can have? Most rain boots are made of synthetic rubber or PVC (polyvinyl chloride), which can release toxins into our groundwater when it breaks down. Instead keep an eye out for natural rubber boots, which are better for the environment and support agricultural communities.

During a recent trip to Europe I discovered the natural rubber boots by Aigle. It’s a French company that has been making rain boots by hand with natural rubber since 1853 instead of synthetic materials. The Aigle store carried many classic and stylish choices that ranged from boots to ankle boots. I ended up purchasing a pair of Miss Juliette boots in navy/red with laces. It feels good to know that they are made from a renewable material as opposed to being petroleum-based. Natural rubber comes from the sap of rubber trees grown in rain forests. Harvesting sap consists of making incisions in the bark. The process can be done without harming trees if done properly. Other eco-friendly features of the production process include that the upper contains 33% recycled rubber, the outsole is composed of 20% recycled rubber, and the insoles are made with 50% recycled material.

Aigle rain boots are still handcrafted with natural rubber in France by master rubber bootmakers. It takes 2 years to fully master the craftsmanship to create them in 60 production steps. Since my trip, I wore the natural rubber boots on numerous occasions. They have been very comfortable to get me from my home to the office, especially since I live in a neighborhood that’s prone to flooding. To keep the designs fresh, each year Aigle teams up with a fashion brand like Liberty of London to develop cool new patterns. Natural rubber boots are a great alternative for keeping you dry while leaving a lighter footprint on the environment.

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