Sustainability in every step

Sustainability in every step

Freewaters’ building blocks of sustainability have been in place since the brand’s inception.  Available technology and manufacturing practices are starting to really catch on to the importance of this movement, and we are thrilled at the possibilities that each new season brings to light.  Crafting high-quality, durable footwear that treads lightly on the planet is a core value of Freewaters’ DNA.  Our determination to make this brand about serving underprivileged communities through our clean drinking water projects has always gone hand in hand with the question of how to make Earth-friendly footwear.  

Our sustainability journey starts with raw material choices.  Each year, this continues to be one of the most exciting areas where we see so many new possibilities.

Material selection

Introducing in 2022: 50% recycled polyester webbing.  The technology for end-of-life recycling for apparel and footwear is still behind the times and not readily available to people.  Therefore, being able to incorporate recycled textiles into production is great step forward.  

Women wearing sandals

Introduced in 2021: Waterless e.Dye is a precision color process for textiles featuring no fading, no bleeding, and requires 85% less water, 90% less harmful chemicals, and results in 12% less CO₂ emissions compared to traditional piece dyeing.

Sustainable leather sandals

We use 100% responsibly sourced leather from one of Leather Working Group’s Gold Rated Tanneries.  Our tannery utilizes rainwater catchment, solar and wind power to help fuel the production process.  They are naturally purifying 100% of their wastewater via onsite wetlands, creating biomass fuel, in addition to their social giveback and charity programs. 

People on beach drinking soda with sandals

All of Freewaters’ sandals and shoes are PVC Free!  Why does this matter?

Our Supreem sandal line features the Supreem Foam footbed, which is a proprietary blend of EVA foam with exceptional rebound properties that minimize foam’s natural tendency to pack out.  In 2022, we are reducing the chemicals and increasing the natural content through the addition of Castor Bean Oil to our EVA blend.

  • 30% recycled rubber outsoles.
  • 100% water-based adhesives, which means that all non-leather styles are 100% Vegan!

Social and eco-conscious manufacturing

Freewaters carefully chooses our production factories based on the following criteria: 

  • High-quality production capability with a skilled labor force
  • Socially responsible manufacturing practices to ensure worker safety, quality of life, and charitable giveback.
  • Environmentally responsible manufacturing practices.


At Freewaters, we choose to bulk our manufacturing buys twice a year for the Spring/Summer season and the Fall/Winter seasons.  We import finished goods into our Los Angeles based warehouse for domestic distribution at the beginning of each season.  We only ship full 40-foot high-capacity containers for ocean transport, and work with our retailers to avoid air transportation.  This helps to minimize our number of annual sailings, thereby minimizing our fuel consumption and CO2 emissions each year. 

We are watching this industry closely and while hybrid-electric cruise ships have already started to pop up, we look forward to the day when fully autonomous zero-emissions cargo ships are readily available.  According to the International Maritime Organization, the shipping industry currently accounts for between 2.5% and 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Women holding box with sandals in it


√ Recycled / recyclable cardboard shoeboxes with soy-based inks
√ Stone-mix polybags with biodegradable additive, recyclable, PVC/BPA free
√ Reduction of polybag and shoebox inserts
√ Recycled / recyclable cardboard sandal retail hangers
√ Recycled / recyclable cardboard hangtags secured with hemp twine
√ Recycled non-rip sandal band branding 

Carbon neutral goals

Our ongoing vision for Freewaters is to create the most comfortable sandal with a net-zero carbon footprint.  Through both short-term and long-terms goals we are addressing the entire life span of our footwear.  Focusing on design, material selection, and the manufacturing process to create long-lasting footwear.  

In Spring 2022, we are introducing the brand new Cloud9 footbed which utilizes injection EVA, the benefit is a low-power short production process resulting in near zero waste.

Our estimated 2022 carbon footprint base measurements:

  1. Sandal Making (Ave est. 4.2kg CO2/Pair)
  2. Packaging (est. 0.3kg CO2/Pair)
  3. Transportation (est 0.09kg CO2/Pair)
  4. Use (est 0.0kg CO2 e/Pair)
  5. End of life (est 0.3kg CO2 e/Pair)

On the horizon:  We are envisioning end-of-life strategies through donation, recycling, or upcycling.  Along with carbon emissions off-setting through reforestation and the purchase of carbon credits.  Every sustainable step forward is a step in the right direction!

“In the 21st century, I think the heroes will be the people who will improve the quality of life, fight poverty and introduce more sustainability.” Bertrand Piccard

Wendi Murphy

By Wendi Murphy

Wendi has been with Freewaters since 2013. She wears multiple hats, working across many departments doing whatever needs to get done. An avid lover of adventure, the beauty of nature, and a keen observer of human behavior drives her in her constant pursuit of life’s greatest stories.

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