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Thursday, January 26, 2023

What to do with sargassum: Make tennis shoes

Destructive seaweed is good for the sole, inventor finds

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Sargassum in Quintana Roo is being used to make the soles of tennis shoes. Photo: Contributed

A sportswear company from Guanajuato has found a good use for the sargassum washing up in the Riviera Maya.

The León-based firm says the seaweed is good for eco-friendly tennis shoes.

Jorge Castro Ramos, the Mexican inventor who owns Renovare, has been making shoes out of old bottles for years. He more recently hit on the idea of processing sargassum seaweed for the soles.

For each shoe, 100 grams of the seaweed is contained in the sole, while the upper’s construction includes five recycled plastic bottles.

“We’ve been dreaming of making ecological footwear for nine years now. It’s taken four or five years of trial and error to make this patented Mexican fibre from plastic bottles, and then six to eight months ago we managed to make ecological organic footwear with sargassum,” he told reporters at a press conference in Cancun.

This is welcome news on the Caribbean coast, as hundreds of tons of sargassum have been washing up on its popular tourist beaches every year, threatening the fragile coral reefs.

Castro has patented the clothing-grade fiber obtained from the bottles, and received certification from the official Ciatec Center for Applied Innovation in Competitive Technologies.

Castro estimates the shoe can last up to two years, after which owners can return them to Renovare for recycling.

The company plans a factory in Quintana Roo in at least three years, depending on the growth of the market.

This is not the first time the unwanted seaweed has been put to use.

One businessman has already built three houses out of sargassum and adobe bricks in Puerto Morelos, and plans to build a hotel with them in Tulum, Riviera Maya News reports.

Another innovator said that sargassum is useful as a fertilizer substitute for farms. And a famous photographer got artistic inspiration from the seaweed.

With information from BBC

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