July 7, 2009

elephantjournal.com Review: Simple Gumbo Flip-Flop.

Upon receiving my Simple Gumbo sandals, I became transfixed by the translucent biodegradable packaging bag…because I had an overwhelming urge to eat it. Perhaps this unusual urge can be attributed to my excitement in receiving the flip-flops, or maybe because Simple is one of the first companies I have seen using biodegradable packaging. But most likely, my immediate drive to consume the packaging was because it is made of corn starch polymers, a remotely-edible substance.

The bag was secured with single rubber band, a little detail which earns Simple big points because it expresses awareness of packaging waste (1/3 of all landfill waste in the US is due to packaging) and are conscious of the consumer disposal process. Additionally, the sandals are connected together with a single piece of twine, with a small piece of brown paper printed with the Simple logo. Appropriately named, Simple Shoes does the the little things right.

The Simple Gumbo has a fresh, laid-back feel, perfect for propping up at the end of your lounge chair or wearing with that new organic cotton sundress. A playful light-blue and white striped strap plays nicely off the natural hemp foot-bed and a sole made of 40% recycled car tire, 59% natural rubber and 1% jute.

Oh, and what is this? Another funny quip under the sandal strap, courtesy of Team Simple:

How do we assemble a shoe without glue? We collect a lot of drool. Just kidding…or are we?

I am such a sucker for little details. I am much more likely to buy something with a secret pocket or a hidden message—it shows a particular level of care seemingly absent from the vast majority of our things

Although the bottom looks ultra earth-friendly, like a tire (a percentage of the bottom is made of recycled rubber tires), I question the functionality. If the sole gets wet, as sandals tend to do in the summer, will it mold? I know hemp dries easily, but still you’d think a solid rubber bottom would be best. Similarly, I hope the hemp upper is tough, ’cause I’m notorious for devouring flip-flops during summertime because I wear them everywhere. Coffee in the morning? Flip-flops. Some afternoon fun at the river? Flip-flops. A nice dinner out? Flip-flops. What can I say, they are the most acceptable alternative to bare feet.

Now, for the ultimate test: comfort and fit. Check and check.

The hemp foot-bed, although probably more prone to moisture accumulation, is ridiculously comfortable; in the realm of the often sought but rarely attained slipper-comfort. And for someone guilty of buying men’s sandals to avoid risking the safety of my pinky toe dangling haphazardly off the side of a narrow women’s sandal, I can breath easy with all 10 digits safely planted on the soft, padded hemp. The sandals fit true to their sizing. Score.

With the Simple Gumbos firmly and likely permanently attached to my feet, I cannot help but think that the makers of my old flip-flops now have some big shoes to fill.

Editor’s Note: We’ve writ on the non-black/white nature of MADE in CHINA before, but it’s worth noting that these otherwise eco shoes are shipped halfway across the world, and not manufactured locally.  ~ WL

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