I don't think I ever posted the response to the email I sent to the manufacturers of Crocs querying what they are made of and this blog post reminded me of it as it casts some new questions over the issue.
The response I received didn't really answer my question but I decided to go ahead and buy a pair as I really needed a pair of something other than my hiking boots that I could wear for more than a couple of hours and I know that I never questioned what was in the orthotics I use. It's something of a cop-out I realise but I didn't have the energy to follow up at the time and know that in the case of any other medical necessity I wouldn't hesitate to use a product that would help regardless of its green credentials. And at €40 a pair crocs are a damn sight cheaper than new orthotics at closer to €200. I have found them comfy and am able to wear them all day walking around although after two full days walking in them I do need to use something else. So, they're not perfect but are a good solution for me to a certain extent.
Here is the response I received:
Thank you for your inquiry. Croc has manufacturing facilities all over the world including Mexico , Canada , Italy and Florida , Brazil , as well as China . Although our new shoes are stamped with “ Boulder , Colorado ” outsourcing our production is necessary to be able to meet the demand of the product. The hang tags attached to the shoes will tell you where the product is actually made. This labeling complies with all customs import requirements. Please note, that we do maintain a “Supplier Code of Conduct” that demands high expectations in labor and environmental standards. All of our manufacturing plants are required to follow this Code. Crocs take pride in its high moral and ethical standards relating to our community and other communities in which we have a presence.
Crocs are made of Croslite - an extraordinary impact absorbing resin material developed for maximum cushioning. Its closed cell properties resist odor, inhibit bacterial and fungal growth and are non-toxic. This versatile material can be worn next to the skin and be cleaned with just soap and water. Crocs contain no latex or rubber materials. As such, we cannot discuss its chemical components, or how it is made. After extensive testing by our company and independent testing laboratories, we can say that Crocs footwear contains no known hazardous chemicals, creates no known hazardous emissions and is completely safe to be disposed of in a landfill. Crocs launched a new recycling program, SolesUnited, in early 2008. SolesUnited is a first of its kind program created in response to the desperate need for quality footwear in impoverished countries and areas affected by tragedy. Blending environmental and humanitarian efforts, we are collecting, regrinding, and remolding your old Crocs shoes into new and donating these to people in need of shoes around the world. To learn more about SolesUnited, I refer you to visit our website at www.SolesUnited.com. I hope this information helps.
Crocs footwear is the first product, in my knowledge, to successfully market a truly comfortable shoe. Our shoes have been shown to ease and/or eliminate stress on the lower back, knee and hip joints. They are extremely light weight and exhibit many other features that are not found in other footwear. The comfort and light weight is what has made Crocs so popular. The comfort level, or cushioning effect, of our footwear requires a soft durometer material to maintain that attribute. Soft material does not wear very well, especially, if worn outside (during hot weather) on rough surfaces such as concrete. There are many variables that will affect wear, such as some people drag their feet during the walking process. We realize that more durable soles would increase the value of our product. The Scutes, for example, are made with a soft compliant foot bed for comfort and a harder outer shell for durability. Our shoes were not designed to be clones of shoes that are more expensive, heavy (composed of leather uppers and a hard rubber sole), and not any where close to being as comfortable as our product. We want to be unique and are still striving to increase the durability, create new & different styles and improve the overall value of Croc’s products. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact me. Thank you.
I am fairly hard on shoes and so I suspect I may not get too many years out of Crocs which would motivate me to look for better alternatives. And of course, I'm moving to what is (I think) the home of Birkenstocks so access to comfy shoes should be a bit easier to come by. :-)
On a side note one issue I did have with the Crocs is that nearly all of the ones on sale in Dublin seem to come from China despite there being at least two factories making them in Europe (Italy and Romania). My desire to at least buy something made on the same continent coupled with my shoesize meant that I had very little choice on colour (good thing I'm not that bothered about coordinating outfits).