Despite fierce resistance from all corners of the fashion-conscious world, Crocs have become an incredibly stylish way to keep our soles soothed and supported.
They’re a treat for the knees and back during an on-your-feet slog at work, and once decorated with some awesome “Croc Charms”, they’re an equally enjoyable feast for the eyes on your days off.
Their meteoric, or should I say…feeteoric (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) rise seems to be down to one overarching attribute — they’re comfy as heck!
But here’s the thing…they may be cushy and soft, but they’re also incredibly durable, able to withstand upward of four years of daily abuse before they need replacing.
In awe of this contradictory marriage of properties, people are starting to wonder how the hell the humble Croc does it, me included! So I took it upon myself to find out what this mystery material is.
Prepare…toe be enlightened (terrible, I know…I have a problem).
Table of Contents
The Croc Material
That material responsible for Crocs’ spongy yet resilient DNA is known as Croslite, which is a proprietary closed-cell foam resin crafted from something called ethylene-vinyl acetate, or simply EVA if you’re in a hurry.
Composed of two discrete monomers, ethylene and vinyl acetate, EVA is a copolymer with attitude! The ethylene-to-vinyl ratio is typically weighted in favor of ethylene, with anywhere from 10 to 40% of the copolymer being made up of vinyl.
Despite being a rubbery-feeling foam, this polymer can be melted down and processed like a standard thermoplastic, enabling such production methods as injection molding.
EVA exists at an intersection between flexibility and durability, which is what gives Crocs their signature soft yet stoic attributes.
It’s elastomeric, meaning it exhibits extensive elasticity, giving it that “bounce back” ability that literally puts a spring in your step.
Putting the icing on the Croc cake, EVA is also resistant to stress, cracking, and UV, making it an incredibly tough material that won’t cop out when the sun’s about — hurray!
It also produces very low levels of odor, and as it’s almost completely non-absorbent, it won’t soak up your sweat and develop nasty smells that way either. As an added bonus, this resistance to moisture makes EVA mold incredibly hygienic and easy to maintain.
Just give your Crocs a spritz with the garden hose, and voilà…squeaky clean!
Okay, so that covers why Crocs are so hardy and so comfortable, but how are they so dang supportive?
Well, the truly magical thing about Croslite is the slight malleability, allowing it to conform to the contours of unique foot shapes, whilst providing sufficient resistance to keep the foot in an optimal position.
And Crocs aren’t just blowing smoke in this respect either, a number of podiatrists concur that Crocs are genuinely great for your feet, and if something’s good for your feet, it tends to be pretty great for the rest of you too.
If that’s all the information you needed to encourage you to jump on the comfortable Crocs bandwagon, you can treat yourself to your very own pair by following this link.
What Else is EVA Used For?
EVA has a long history under or around our feet. Before Crocs were the in-thing, it was used to form cushy shoe insoles and to pad out things such as ski boots.
Its supportive structure also made it a fantastic choice for hockey pads, martial art gloves and helmets, and bicycle saddles.
It’s used in countless industries, from automotive to healthcare, to add some comfort to otherwise rigid and unforgiven objects.
So ubiquitous is this amazing material that there’s a good chance you already have plenty of it in your life. Like to go fishing? It’s likely that the padding on your rod-butt and reel-handle is made of EVA foam.
Do you like to shake the dreams off and prepare yourself for the day ahead with a soothing session of morning yoga? That spongy mat that keeps the carpet burns at bay is probably made of EVA too.
Are you an eco-warrior with a vast array of solar panels? EVA is also used by the photovoltaics industry as an encapsulation material.
It would be no exaggeration to say EVA is EVERYWHERE!
How Did Crocs Dream Up Croslite?
Now that you’re aware of the miracle that is Croslite, you may be wondering how Crocs managed to coax up such a fantastic, game-changing material. Well, the truth is…they didn’t.
That’s right, my fellow Croc-pots; Crocs the company didn’t actually invent Croslite. Croslite was created by Foam Creations, a company that specialized in, you’ve guessed it…foam.
When Crocs bought the Foam Creations name, facilities, and manufacturing operations, the exclusive rights to Foam Creations’ special Croslite recipe was handed over as part of the deal.
Now Crocs could do whatever they wanted with this amazing material, and they decided it was best put to work in their line of uncompromisingly comfortable footwear — our feet owe you a debt of gratitude, Crocs…we salute you.
Well, I say “put to work”, but in reality, it was more like, kept at work, for that quintessential Croc design with the ankle strap and the vented toe box that we all know and love had already been developed by Foam Creations.
When I learned about that little nugget of information during my research, I began wondering what it was – if anything – Crocs the company actually did other than throw money around, and truthfully, the answer is, very little.
Crocs simply rebranded the already developed product and invested in an intensive marketing strategy to give the product a foothold in the market.
Their initial plans were to sell Crocs as boat shoes due to their moisture-resistance and comfort, and it was pretty smart thinking, too. When they were first introduced at a Fort Lauderdale boat show in Florida in 2001, all 200 pairs sold out in a flash.
Can You Recycle Crocs?
Croslite, and EVA foam in general, is labeled environmentally friendly as it’s a completely non-toxic material. It’s BPA-free, contains absolutely zero chlorides, metals, latex, phenols…you name it. If it’s bad for us and the environment, you won’t find it in EVA foam — woo!
Unfortunately, though, that’s not the end of the eco-story. Granted, a nice foamy material that doesn’t poison us slowly is definitely a good thing, but as it stands, Croslite cannot be recycled.
This wasn’t such a problem when Crocs started out selling a couple of hundred pairs at the odd boat show, but now that they’re a world-leading footwear brand, selling millions of clogs a year, the waste factor is becoming a real issue.
Even though Crocs last longer than most other footwear, after a while, the Croslite starts to lose its elasticity, which is the beginning of the end for these cozy clogs.
Once they’re no longer as supportive as they were, they’re either binned by the user or binned by recycling facilities that don’t have the technology to repurpose them.
Arriving at your local landfill, your old Crocs may take thousands of years to fully biodegrade.
It’s been noted that a single EVA sole from a standard sneaker may be in contact with moist soil for well over a decade and show little to no signs of biodeterioration, and being that Crocs are made entirely of EVA foam, they’re, let’s say…problematic.
As Croc production expands due to their popularity, this issue will only intensify, but it’s not the only hurdle we face.
The fact that Crocs are so lightweight and buoyant in water means there’s a risk of them being blown by strong winds or displaced by floods and ending up polluting natural land and sub-aquatic ecosystems.
So, What Can You Do With Your Old Crocs?
I know you had pure intentions when you purchased your Crocs; we all did. We can’t be blamed for wanting healthier feet, but now we stand on the precipice of an ecological blunder, so what can we do?
Well, even if we can’t “officially” recycle Crocs in the strictest sense of the word, we can repurpose them in our own ways in order to keep them from piling up in our local landfills.
You can use your ratty old Crocs as plant pots or pencil holders. Alternatively, EVA foam has a very paintable surface, so you could get artsy and decorate them, then use them ornamentally around your home or workspace.
But perhaps the best way of all to recycle your old Crocs is to donate them to someone who will get another good few years of usage out of them.
You can start by trying to unload them to friends and family, but if that doesn’t work, there are organizations, such as soles4souls, that will take them off your hands (or feet as the case may be) and deliver them to people in need — perfect!
There you have it, friends. Crocs are made from a proprietary EVA polymer known as Croslite that was concocted by Foam Creations and sold to Crocs as part of a huge acquisitions deal.
It’s lightweight, springy, durable, resistant to moisture, cracks, and UV, and in Croc form, a great way to keep your dogs from barkin’.
While EVA isn’t currently all that eco-friendly, with advancements in recycling facilities and technologies happening as we speak, hopefully, one day our Crocs will be as green as they are comfortable.