Crocs Slippers

overall rating:

1

planets

Grant Go
8/6/2021
No items found.

Footwear trends come and go, but one type of footwear that has become quite popular and has stuck with me since I was a kid has been Crocs.

I am an avid lover of crocs. I wear them most days a week and am a firm believer in their superiority in terms of style, comfort, and versatility. I loved the casualty of a Croc and its ability to complement any dress with its versatility of colors. They are also very convenient to own, use and manage. As it is now, the popularity of Crocs is not just one of those footwear trends that we have grown used to. It is very evident that Crocs are not going anywhere soon.

Building momentum with a shoe, unlike any other, Croc provided consumers with innovative, fun, and comfortable footwear that could be worn for a variety of lifestyle occasions. The Crocs brand name started to build a feel-good physical and emotional experience with a life of its own. Today, I feel that Crocs is continuing to innovate. Considering the fact its product speeds up the consumer belt, it has a lot of things to account for. Nevertheless, it is certainly moving in the right direction.

What it's made of:

0.5

Like many others, I assumed that the famed shoe was made out of rubber or plastic. However, Crocs are made out of Croslite, which is a patented closed-cell foam resin that makes them easily washable and nonabsorbent. Croslite is made of copolymer ethylene-vinyl acetate. This is commonly used in athletic shoes and is a growing environmental concern.

As a customer, I think this is what attracted me to crocs in the sense they are easy to wash, unlike other shoes and slippers. Aside from its low maintenance, Croslite is also lightweight. So, it gives great comfort when you wear the shoes. Croslite is an extraordinary resin material that is soft and helps to provide maximum cushioning.

The proprietary material, Croslite, claims to be antibacterial and antifungal. Because Croslite is made from a closed-cell foam resin, water won’t penetrate the shoe. That also means that micro-bacteria can’t penetrate the foam either. This is under debate though. In 2011, EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) fined the company $230,000 to resolve their case of unsubstantiated antimicrobial claims for several types of its shoes. After this, Crocs removed the claim from multiple products and stopped making such claims in the future. This made me wonder how valid both this claim of anti-bacteria is and how valid other claims Crocs makes on its shows.

Finally, Crocs works as a sort of memory foam, forming to the feet of the users with body heat. Therefore, it offers excellent support to every individual’s unique shape of feet. Originally intended for use on boats and in other outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, and gardening, Crocs has also found a market with working people who spend a lot of time on their feet, such as health care and restaurant workers.

According to some podiatrists, Crocs provides users with a lot of medical benefits. In fact, Crocs were recommended by the American Podiatric Medical Association last 2009. This too is under dispute. There have been different theories claiming that Crocs are not good for the feet. They are undoubtedly comfortable for people who wear them once or twice a week. But for the people who want to regularly use them, this can be damaging. They aren’t suitable for all-day use because they restrict the natural movement of your foot.

This convenience has another price. The EVA polymer is carbon-based and thus, comes from crude oil, one of the worst environmentally damaging materials on the planet with issues in extracting, processing, and manufacturing. The brand has not disclosed the exact chemical makeup of its Croslite so already at the get-go there are issues with transparency in how Crocs make its materials. Other manufacturers don’t know the exact polymer composition of Croslite, therefore it’s difficult for companies to copy Crocs exactly.

With regards to the disposal of Crocs, there are also major issues surrounding their environmental friendliness. The short answer is that you can’t recycle Crocs like other plastic materials. As I mentioned earlier, Croslite is not rubber nor plastic but EVA. This type of plastic polymer is not really recyclable. So, if you have been previously planning to dump your old crocs in the recycling bin, thinking that they would be recycled, you might want to have a rethink about it.

Aside from this, because Crocs are made of special materials, they may have difficulty breaking down in the landfill. This, on its own, raises questions about Crocs and their effects on the environment. For instance, while they remain in the landfill, due to their lightweight, they could be carried away by a flood and end up in the aquatic area. Here, they can pollute the environment and even poison the water through their release of toxic materials. Plus, since it’s made of a chemical polymer (EVA), Crocs are notoriously hard to break down and decompose. This ethylene-vinyl acetate has been chosen to make Crocs so that the Crocs can be durable. However, this has adversely led to its negative environmental effects.

How it's made:

0.5

The Crocs company keeps the manufacturing of Crocs and the material used to make Crocs proprietary, therefore I don’t have any specific examples of facilities that make Crocs. Originally the Crocs footwear was produced in Canada. However, thanks to their popularity and high demand, the company eventually created a network of factories, so nowadays the Crocs are produced in six different countries: Brazil, Mexico, Italy, Bosnia, Vietnam, and China. Each pair’s country of origin is mentioned on the sole as well as on the label. This concerns me because not only are their pollution issues when it comes to transportation, logistics, and travel, but a lot of these countries don’t have the best record on workers’ rights and salary wages when it comes to manufacturing. While it does have a Compliance Code of Conduct for all of Crocs global contracted factories and direct suppliers, it doesn't outline directly what it is.

The main ingredient, Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate is more prominent by the name foam rubber or expanded rubber. Crocs have purchased Foam Creations Company and its patent, which is now recognized as Croslite. The process of producing Croslite used to take place in Italy and Mexico until recently before the announcement of shutdown in manufacturing plants, due to the high cost of production, moving to China and Vietnam. This outsourcing strategy of Crocs allowed the company to reduce its production cost since the wage rate in Italy and Mexico would be higher than that of China and Vietnam.

To make the shoe, EVA is injected into a mold to create the upper section of a sandal. Workers clean the mold, remove any material, then spray down the mold so that the new EVA foam doesn’t stick to the mold. The mold is then put together and more EVA is injected into the closed mold, heated, and once complete the mold opens for the employee to remove the shoe, any debris, then clean the mold again for the next go. By extracting and manufacturing with oil and plastic, the companies use intense amounts of power, emit harmful chemicals into the air and water, and create a massive quantity of waste. As far as I can tell, most of their factories don’t use renewable energy but Crocs plans to transition to renewable energy within owned and leased facilities. The only thing I am looking for is a timeline of said transition.

Moving on to the molding stage of production, most of it is done in Romania, Bosnia, and Herzegovina, China as well as in Florida, US. One interesting thing I noticed was that in the US, there is a trend of firms shutting down factories in the rust belt Midwest states and moving to the sunbelt due to reduced union power. An interesting trend that can be spotted here is the location of manufacturing factories in the US. The formation of labor unions increases the wage rate and improves working conditions but an overpowered union makes it harder for the company to maintain its operation due to increased cost of production, shutting down the factory altogether.

Who makes it:

1.5

Crocs, Inc. is a world leader in innovative casual footwear for women, men, and children, combining comfort and style with a value that consumers know and love.

In July 2021, Crocs made the surprising commitment to reach Net Zero company by 2030. To achieve its 2030 goals, Crocs is taking it a step further with a strategic focus on sustainable ingredients and packaging, as well as investments in resource use and innovative product afterlife solutions, some of the biggest issues I saw earlier.

In addition to reducing its environmental footprint, Crocs remains committed to its brand purpose as a vocal advocate for community and inclusivity, creating a welcoming environment for everyone, rooted in governance, transparency and accountability. As part of this mission, Crocs continues to provide shoes, and monetary donations through its Crocs Cares program while ensuring that the brand welcomes all one-of-a-kinds both internally and externally. For me, while the charity program sounds excellent, not a lot of details are provided on how Crocs is making itself more inclusive and transparent. To me, this sounds a lot like Crocs trying to say the right buzzwords to appeal to younger demographics.

Some examples of these initiatives:
1) With regards to packaging, this is relatively light for Crocs and not much of a concern for me, given that 85% of Crocs sold in 2020 were without packaged plastic or cardboard packages.

2) Post-consumption: To keep shoes on feet and out of landfills, Crocs donates thousands of pairs of unsold shoes to those in need in less developed countries. In 2020 alone, over 850,000 pairs of shoes and 1 million dollars were donated to underdeveloped nations.

3) Raw Materials: At 3.94 kg CO2 eq. per pair of Classic Clogs, Crocs shoes already have a low footprint and by the end of 2021, Crocs will be a 100 percent vegan brand, meaning that it does not contain any animal ingredients or animal-derived ingredients. In addition to eliminating leather from their product line, Crocs is innovating to a more sustainable bio-based Croslite,

What I liked about this announcement was that, unlike a lot of other companies, it’s third-party verified. This metric was calculated using the Higg Product, an apparel and footwear industry self-assessment standard for assessing environmental and social sustainability throughout the supply chain. This calculation was conducted internally, was 3rd party verified, and represents a cradle-to-grave impact.

4) Reuse: Currently, 45 percent of all Croslite™ material production scrap is recycled. At the same time, its transitioning to renewably sourced energy in its offices and distribution centers. However, I couldn’t find much detail about this and would appreciate more transparency at this point.
Finally, I do have some questions in terms of diversity and employee care. Over ⅔ of its workforce are women while over ½ of its workforce identifies as people of color. It was also recognized by Forbes as a 2021 Best Employer for Diversity. On the other hand, it doesn't outline what its leadership structure looks like in terms of opportunities for women and POC.