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Finnish Startup Aims to Raise $1M+ for ‘Climate Neutral’ Coffee Sneaker

The Finnish startup that two years ago raised more than $550,000 for its debut “coffee sneaker” is back, this time with a performance shoe it calls “the world’s first crowdfunded climate neutral sneaker.”

Rens Original launched its second Kickstarter project Tuesday. In the short time since, more than 425 people have helped the project raise over $54,000. Though that total stands well above the brand’s official $19,000 goal, it aims to ultimately pull in more than $1 million—nearly double what it raised two years ago.

“With the new model, we are continuing our mission to integrate sustainable fashion with technology and innovation,” Rens co-founding CEO Jesse Tran said in a statement. “We are particularly pleased to include the feedback from the customers in the development of Nomad, who explicitly requested a performance sneaker.”

The Nomad will feature a 100 percent recycled upper made from a 50/50 blend of old coffee grounds and plastic bottles. According to Rens, the UV-resistant coffee material keeps the wearer’s feet cooler longer and helps colors last longer. The grounds’ structure, it added, traps unwanted odors and pulls moisture away from the foot. The shoes also feature a waterproof membrane made from the recycled plastic bottles.

Rens Original claims its Nomad sneaker will be "climate neutral."

So far, Rens claims it has recycled more than 250,000 plastic bottles and 750,000 cups of used coffee. Its Nomad sneakers—slated to begin production in September and ship in December—will utilize 21 cups of used coffee grounds and six recycled plastic bottles per pair, it said.

“Shoes made from recycled coffee grounds may seem novel to some, but we wholeheartedly believe that this is just the beginning of a revolution in garment technology and manufacturing,” Rens co-founder Son Chu said in a statement.

The shoe’s outsole, meanwhile, is made with natural rubber sourced from a sustainable rubber farm, Rens said. Its removable insole features a 100 percent recycled polyester sockliner. The “virtually unbreakable” laces are likewise made from recycled plastic. The brand said it also plans to ship the shoes in 100 percent recycled and recyclable packaging.

Finally, Rens has partnered with the environmental consultancy ClimatePartner to reduce and offset all climate emissions at each stage in the process—from raw materials to production, packaging, transport and waste. Its partners, it added, are Recycled Claim Standard (RCS), Global Recycled Standard (GRS) and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified.