Shriyans Bhandari and Ramesh Dhami started Green Sole in December 2013 as a way to upcycle their old shoes while also helping underprivileged kids get comfortable footwear.
Shriyans Bhandari and Ramesh Dhami would often go through multiple pairs of shoes every year due to their careers as professional athletes. One day, when Ramesh turned one of his old pairs of shoes into slippers, the duo figured they could do this with all their pairs!
This was their wake-up call to start an organisation called GreenSole in December 2013 that would refurbish old footwear into new trendy ones.
“Initially, we thought we would just reuse those shoes and make footwear for personal use. But the idea grew into a social business venture, and we decided to help underprivileged children by providing them with refurbished shoes,” says Shriyans.
The discarded shoes go through a rigorous process that involves washing them, disassembling them to separate the soles and uppers, and cutting them according to the size required. “Instead of melting the shoes as many shoe manufacturers do, we refurbish them so there is minimal carbon emission,” says Shriyans.
The duo were even applauded by the Entrepreneurship Development Institute of India Ahmedabad for their sustainable design.
Through their collection drives across India, they collect old footwear and then upcycle them before donating it to children in different villages. “We also conduct awareness campaigns about the benefits of wearing footwear at places where we go to donate shoes. We make sure that kids are not going to school barefoot. It is a great feeling to see them wearing those slippers, running and playing,” he adds.
What started with the athletes deciding to do good, has to date upcycled 5,80,000 old shoes and partnered with over 65 corporates.
Watch their fascinating journey here:
Edited by Pranita Bhat