The no-such-thing-as-sustainability page

We are not a sustainable brand, and we are totally fine with that. Why? Blame it on Russia's communist roots, but we don't believe that companies can be truly sustainable under capitalism.

However, we are a wildly honest and transparent brand. Our products and practices are inherently responsible towards Mother Nature and our impact on her, from the materials we use to make our boots to the shipping methods that deliver them to you.

We are guided by two of the UN Sustainable Development Goals – namely numbers 12 and 15, that focus on responsible production and consumption, and on increasing and protecting biodiversity.

While we’re not close to perfect, we have consciously chosen to build VOYLOK to do as little harm as possible. We map the carbon impact of every step of our operations, from the sheep grazing in a Northern Russian pasture all the way to your feet, and create a full Carbon P&L to sit alongside our traditional accounts. We’ve laid out the concrete steps we take to minimise our environmental impact below, but we do make carbon emissions and therefore we’re clearly part of the problem. To mitigate this, we support rewilding and reforestation projects that allow us to guarantee we take at least 50% more carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere than we put in.

Our Kostroma Classic boot is made using just wool and hot water. By partnering with small workshops and keeping our supply chain tight, we take a slow fashion approach – creating small batches of product, keeping the same styles for a long time, minimising waste, ensuring the best working conditions for our craftspeople, and no animal cruelty for our sheep. 

The wool we use is 100% renewable, biodegradable, and natural, sourced from Romanov sheep raised near our Kostroma River workshop – minimising emissions from transporting materials. All excess wool is turned into accessories or composted, which is what you can also do when you are done with your Voyloks. We suggest cutting them up for crafts or putting them in your garden. You could even put a plant in them.

Our sheep are never harmed and are allowed to wander freely in the Russian countryside AKA living the dream. They are also helping to preserve the landscape by grazing, creating habitats for wildlife to thrive through regenerative farming practices.

Explore the Kostroma Classic

Because we use no harmful chemicals, dyes, or bleach, the hot water we bathe our boots in is not polluted and can be easily returned to nature. The wood we use to heat said water is repurposed waste from local forestries.

Keen on the responsible materials that go into our Kostroma Classic? Why don't you slip into a pair too?

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Good things come in reusable packages

We hate packaging and we know you do too. A decade ago there might have been some mystique to a sleek black box arriving, but now there is just the constant tinge of regret that products that don’t need much protection (like a rubber overshoe) are bundled in layers of cardboard. So, we decided to eliminate packaging. Literally. 

Our boots come in a Repack, which is a re-usable e-commerce package. When your boots arrive, you take them out, try them on, and then pop the package they came in back into the post for us to use on someone else’s order.

We know it’s not very fancy, but it’s better than the 177 kg of packaging waste made by every EU inhabitant annually. Now that’s not a good look. 

Need more help? Check out our FAQs. 

Dip the ship

We feel really strongly that airfreighting parcels around the world is bad business, so we only ship to domestic markets where we have a physical warehouse that can access existing, ground-based delivery. Sorry Europe, sorry America – that means we’re only shipping to the UK for now, but we will open new warehouses from which we can sustainably serve you as we grow.

As well as modelling the carbon cost of all our inbound shipping options, and routing our shipments via the lowest possible pathway, we also model the carbon cost of your delivery and use partners like the Royal Mail who have foot and bicycle-based teams going to your door – saving up to 50% of the emissions compared to a parcel-only service.

Hello, operator?

Obviously we need to look at our operating footprint as a company as well as the carbon cost of your deliveries. Firstly, we recognise that our business exists outside our office walls – we have families, partners, and dependents who rely on our salaries, but cause emissions too. That's why we offset the full annual emissions of all of our team and our dependents.

We also look at our technology and office emissions, and are especially concerned at the fact that the backbone of the Internet actually contributes 3.8% of global emissions. So, from MacBooks to individual page views on our website and the server emissions that support them, we track and offset the lot too.

Finally, we are aware of the role warehousing plays in the mix of global transport and logistics. Often overlooked, but not by us, we account for our share of all our warehouse partners emissions and offset accordingly.

A step in the right direction

Our overshoes are made from natural rubber from the latex tree, and are easily and fully recyclable. However, the rubber industry is not the cleanest of places. As demand for natural rubber grows, plantations spring up – often at the expense of critical biodiversity. These plantations have long-standing reputations for poor worker treatment, and the rubber is often mixed with a range of fillers, stabilisers, and synthetics. Nasty.

We’re not satisfied with our rubber supply chain as it is today; it's too hard to trace the compound to the exact plantation, and this isn’t good enough. So, we’re moving all new purchases to FSC-certified rubber plantations that guarantee broad and strenuous environmental and biodiversity protections, as well as real, decent worker protections.

We’re also working on increasing the percentage of latex in our overshoes so that we can reduce the amount of non-rubber additives. This isn’t straightforward as these additives provide a lot of necessary properties, but it can be done.

Finally, we’re looking to the advances in the industry to fuel our next generation of products. First up will be post-consumer rubber. Up to now, it's been impossible to recycle rubber back into consumer products because the recycling process alters the compounds leaving them smelly and coarse. New technology allows us to fix this and close the loop. In the future, algal compounds and latex from dandelion sap (which can be grown in a much broader range of places than just the tropics) will feed into our products as soon as they are technically available. We can’t wait.

The life and death of your Voyloks

Nothing lasts forever – but all too often, other brands don't consider the impact of what happens to their products when they have reached the end of their usable lives. Footwear in particular is a problem, as recycling any of the materials is next to impossible due to the seams, stitching, and glue used throughout to hold various incompatible materials together.

Recycling our boots is much easier than traditional footwear. You slip off the overshoes, drop them in a recycling bin at your local tip, or send them back to us to recycle for you.

Your wool Voylok can literally just be composted in your garden or your friends' allotment – anywhere you can dig without getting into trouble (cemeteries are dodgy at the best of times). Top tip: cut them up first so they breakdown faster.

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It’s easy to talk a sustainable game these days but much more important to back it up. We’re committed to publishing our annual Carbon P&L, but we’re also happy to open our books to anyone with questions and talk through how we track, what benchmarks we use, and, most importantly, the things we don’t do well enough yet and how we’re working to fix them. Email us and we’ll set up a call.

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