A few words from our founder Sven Segal…
I hope you and your family are keeping well during this challenging time.
As our new world reality unfolds, as unprecedented and as uncertain this chapter might be, I’ve been trying to keep positive. After all evolution showed that our species greatest forte is adaptability, so I keep on telling myself; no matter what - we will adapt, it’ll be OK.
Whilst most people around the world have been immersed into our longest ever ‘pause’ (which coincidentally, translates to 'Po-Zu' in Japanese), I’ve been reading a number of ‘Post-Covid’ articles where visionaries talk about the latest trend of rediscovering community and trust, why quarantining consumption is a good thing, and how we are re-learning to enjoy the simple things in life. They predict a bright outcome, where slow living, sustainable development, kindness and ethics emerge and become more deeply engraved as the core characteristics of our adaptable species. This cheers me.
We clearly need patience at this time, so think about how we could take this opportunity to grow and develop ourselves. For once, we have the time. We may have already noticed heart-warming behavioural changes around us, like neighbours going the extra mile to help each other, and although the contribution may seem small, it makes a huge impact on other people’s lives and well-being. Over 750,000 people volunteered to help the NHS here is the UK, just how unbelievably amazing is this? The simple appreciation clap on Thursday evenings brought out new levels of gratitude on a scale we’ve never seen before.
Personally, I’m very grateful for the noticeable reduction in pollution; here in London there are hardly any cars or buses on the roads. I can’t remember a time when we have been breathing cleaner air! At the same time, it’s refreshing to see how wellness and exercise, like walking and cycling has become our daily objective. The reduction in global carbon emissions due to the lack of industrial production and indeed the decline of aviation activity are blessings in disguise too. Just in case you missed this satellite image from Nasa showing a dramatic decline in pollution levels over China. It’s a must-see!
Although this global pandemic is sad and unsettling, it will result in a major shift towards a better world. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about our extensive challenges and struggles (personally, on a company level, and globally) to shift into a truly dedicated era of sustainable living.
Looking back at when I started Po-Zu 14 years ago, my goal was to challenge the harmful practices I came across in the shoe industry and to create the most environmentally friendly shoes possible. Hardly anyone was interested in ethics and sustainability at the time and quite a few of my friends and family thought I was a dreamer. Thanks to changemakers like David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg the shift started about a couple of years ago, and now sustainability is becoming increasingly more important as global warming remains our biggest threat. Of course, there was always the risk we came to the party late.
Po-Zu slippers from 2008 in their original compostable shoebox that doubled up as a seed tray
Making well-considered sustainable shoes is possibly ten times harder and far more complex - there are numerous practices to consider starting from raw material impacts, to supply chains, to technical issues - than making ‘normal’ shoes. But it’s clearly worth it. Even if we only think of the positive impact on the factory workers, who would otherwise be exposed to toxic and harmful substances on a daily basis. I find it interesting to reflect on this when health and safety is all of a sudden at the very top of our agenda due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
I want to tell you a short story I recently shared with Forbes. About three years ago I managed to convince one well-established Portuguese shoe factory that produces for large global brands, to start a new solvent-free production line for Po-Zu. Last year this factory told us that the ‘pilot run’ was so successful, that they have decided to convert all of their production lines to be solvent-free. The factory now has a much cleaner and healthier environment and the workers are much happier and more productive too. It’s a clear win-win for everyone.
I’m so glad I took the difficult path and challenged the ill-disposed norm. It’s been an incredible journey so far and I’m very grateful to all the pozutive souls I met along the way who helped me make it happen.
While staying at home with my wife and daughter for the past few weeks, as I occasionally drift into the ‘flat screen’, I found it inspiring to see personal stories about extreme endurance whist being imaginative and resourceful; how people achieved certain goals despite the physical constraints they are under. This man managed to run a marathon in his six meters long back garden, whereas this inventive explorer went on a trekking expedition to Everest base camp - by climbing stairs at home.
For those who are into art, check out this fun social media campaign by the Getty Museum where they challenge people to recreate a work of art with objects (and people) at home.
Whatever your own activity may be, stay safe and well.
Thank you for your ongoing support.