How can doing something good for nature also be good for business?

1 min read

Primal Soles is making waves in the footwear industry, with its range of CO2 negative insoles that are as comfortable as they are sustainable. Just 1.5 years into their existence, David Even, the company’s founder and recent MBA of SDA Bocconi graduate, is set to speak for a second time at the World Economic Forum and is set to add single-use hotel slippers into their range. A move that will see them quickly hit their initial mission of replacing 1m non-recyclable pieces of footwear from ending up in landfill.

Catching up with him ahead of the festive break, I was keen to understand why and how they had achieved so much in a short space of time:


David was initially inspired by the Nike founder’s story and his observations that people often spend more time in their shoes than on their mattresses (observations gained having worked for a fast-growing mattress company that didn’t take any responsibility for end of product life cycle). It set the wheels in motion to find the perfect material to provide maximum comfort while minimising footprint (in the sustainable sense of the word). David was furthermore motivated by the idea of legacy thinking, whereby one is driven by what we hope to see the planet to be like 50 years down the line, rather than the traditional short term business (and add to that governmental) timelines.


David and his team needed to find a material that would meet the necessary comfort requirements and enable a truly circular system to work for an area of footwear in which items are replaced approximately every six months. The answer to that conundrum was cork. Cork, which literally of course grows on trees, is also incredible at sequestering carbon, rivalling the now much publicised sea grass. It’s also a fabulously spongy and durable material, which makes it excellent for providing support to feet (something that this author can testify to, now readily using PRIMAL Sole insoles in my trainers). To ensure that optimal comfort is achieved, 50% of each new product is made from virgin cork, and to ensure optimal sustainability is achieved, 50% of each new product is made from upcycled PRIMAL Sole products. In addition, to compensate for the virgin cork used in products, the team are currently raising money to replant over 1000 hectares of cork oak forest. The final piece of the puzzle was to approach their marketing as a form of education. It’s why they have been able to secure investment from INTENT, the education programme and sponsors of the SDG tent at the World Economic Forum, which has also given them a high profile platform to get their message out to the world.

Learn more?

The PRIMAL Soles team have created a short documentary to bring their story to life and to educate, at this year’s World Economic Forum. To view the documentary, click here.

If you’d like to find out more about PRIMAL Soles and their range of sustainable footwear, visit

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