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El Naturalista: a recycle-it-yourself (RIY) shoe

The two Spanish families that started El Naturalista had three lofty goals for their footwear: comfort and style with minimal harm to the environment. “We seek out production processes that are eco-friendly and promote traditional craft skills, we utilize natural materials and dyes, we avoid toxic products and materials, and we practice conservation by using substances that are biodegradable and recyclable.”

When they began in 2002, they worked with chrome-free leather and slowly began to add other less environmentally harmful materials, like recycled rubber. Today, their shoes are sold in 50 countries worldwide, but they continue to promote Made in Spain using traditional styles. They’ve also taken their minimal impact philosophy to the consumer encouraging the wearers of their shoes to recycle them at the end of their wearable life.

Their Recyclus shoes not only use natural materials like cork, natural colourings, glue recycled with ground powder, natural rubber, chrome-free split leather insoles, coconut, cotton laces and hand-stitched soles, but once they are worn out they can be returned to the company to be treated and reused.

Their recycle-it-yourself (RIY) shoe is recycled, recyclable and since it’s put together without glues and simple stitching, it can be easily taken apart by the owner for those who prefer to return the materials to the earth themselves. Yes, the shoe is compostable. Even the organic cotton laces.

In this video, El Naturalista’s Juan de la Peña shows us a few Recyclus shoes and explains how to RIY. Step one: “First you cut with a knife all the stitching. All the stitching is organic cotton and there’s no glue so it just separates naturally.” Next, cut it up into pieces and compost.