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Pineapple to Shoes?: Kenyan Brand Turn Fruit Waste Into Eco-friendly Footwear

Apr 20, 2021 09:00AM ● By Boitumelo Masihleho
Sustainable Shoes

Co-founded by Olivia Okinyi, Angela Musyoka, and Mike Langa in 2019, Pine Kazi is a Kenyan brand that converts pineapple leaf and recycled rubber into fashionable footwear. The brand won $2,000 from the African Development Bank’s (AfDB's) Fashionomics Africa initiative competition.  The Fashionomics Africa competition is a contest that honors African fashion brands working to change how fashion is produced, bought, used, and recycled to encourage more sustainable consumer behavior.

In addition to the prize money, the business will have the opportunity to showcase its creation in online events, share insights on key sustainability challenges facing the industry, and receive a certificate. Pine Kazi’s shoes have been described as innovative and sustainable. The upper part of the shoe is made from pineapple textile while the inside is lined with organic cotton. The sole is made from sisal plant fiber, fitted with recycled tire underneath. The shoes are 100% handmade to reduce carbon footprint and can last three years.

Okinyi says the company will invest half the winnings in the machinery used to make shoe source materials. "The new machinery will see pineapple leaf waste put to work and create more green jobs for unemployed youth," she said. A panel of four judges representing the Bank and competition collaborators – the United Nations Environment Program, the Parsons School of Design, and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation – reviewed 110 entries from 24 African countries and selected three finalists. An online public vote by 986 participants determined the winner, with Pine Kazi receiving 400 votes.

“We were pleasantly surprised by all the applications received for the first edition of our Fashionomics Africa competition. It was very difficult to make a choice, but the finalists stood out with their innovative, durable, and contemporary designs,” said Emanuela Gregorio, coordinator of the Fashionomics Africa initiative at the African Development Bank. “You transformed waste materials from pineapples into profound new textiles and absolutely beautiful new shoes,” said Competition judge and a Program Director at New York-based Parsons School of Design, Brendan McCarthy about Pine Kazi.





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 Boitumelo Masihleho is a South African digital content creator. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Rhodes University in Journalism and Media Studies and Politics and International Studies.  

She's an experienced multimedia journalist who is committed to writing balanced, informative and interesting stories on a number of topics. Boitumelo has her own YouTube channel where she shares her love for affordable beauty and lifestyle content. 

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