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Sustainable Startup Turns Cork and Cactus Leather Into Eco-Friendly Insoles

A new player has entered the sustainable insole arena.

Fulton announced the launch and general availability of its first product offering, the Classic Insole, Wednesday.

The New York City startup’s insert relies solely on plant-based materials. A supportive, durable, shock-absorbing cork foundation serves as the insole’s base. On top of that, Fulton has placed a mid-layer of antimicrobial, rubber latex foam and then a top layer of cactus leather.

“At Fulton, we’ve made a commitment to explore materials beyond the unsustainable gels, foams and plastics that permeate modern footwear,” Fulton co-founder Daniel Nelson said in a statement. “We’re excited to offer products that utilize sustainable and innovative materials not traditionally used in insoles while still prioritizing quality.”

According to Fulton’s website, 100 percent of the cork the young brand uses is harvested by hand in Portugal. The manufacturer’s machines, it also notes, run on renewable energy.

While the Classic Insole’s focus is arch support, it also features a deep heel cup in the back for maximum stability and balance. According to Fulton, the insert is designed to mitigate the impact of common conditions like flat feet and plantar fasciitis.

“Posture starts from the ground up, and our feet affect the alignment of our entire body,” Fulton’s other co-founder, Libie Motchan, said in a statement. “We created Fulton to create a modernized and sustainable insole option that molds to each person’s unique arch and gait pattern.”

Since teaming up with Vivobarefoot on its Ultra III Bloom years ago, green technology company Algix has brought its algae-based materials to more than 100 companies, including names like Levi’s, Adidas and Sanuk. From 2017 to 2020, it claims, it cleaned and returned to the environment more than 745 million liters of water and sequestered more than 340,000 kilograms of CO2.

Last summer, the up-and-coming outdoor brand Oboz doubled down on the sustainability profile of its Bozeman footwear collection—the line’s ingredient mix already included Repreve recycled polyester fiber—by incorporating algae-based Bloom insoles.