The Aussie Surfer Making Shoes From Tyres Dumped In The Ocean

Nick Riley has always loved Indonesia.

A keen surfer, Riley would regularly travel there from Australia to take advantage of its waves.

“I was basically living there” he told ten daily.

But the love for his adopted country soon turned to concern, when Riley saw first-hand just how bad its pollution had become.

“During the rainy season I would walk my dog along the beach and I couldn’t see the sand – there was that much rubbish,” he said. “I just hated seeing a place where you find so much happiness destroyed like that”.

That’s when he decided to “try and do something” to help fix the problem.

After learning the sobering statistic that every year 1.8 billion tyres are either burned or tossed into landfill, Riley said he had a brainwave.

Garbage along Kedonganan beach, Bali, Indonesia. Source: Getty

“Because they’re such a dense material, people don’t know how to dispose of them,” he said. “So, I tried to figure out a way to recycle them.”

And so, with the help of a few mates, Riley decided to turn them into shoes and, in turn, created the company Indosole.

Apart from the ethics behind the decision to use tyres, Riley’s chosen material also came with an unexpected monetary benefit: They were free.

Soon, the Indosole crew set up a small factory “in the middle of nowhere” and hired locals to make their vision a reality.

“Back then the artisans at that little factory would cut the tyres by hand,” he said. “They would cut the rim out, do all the measurements and then glue the tire to the bottom of a shoe mould. It was time consuming and they could really only churn out about 50 a day.”

One of Indosole's workers crafting their shoes. Source: Instagram

Now, thanks to the brand’s success, all the heavy lifting is done by machines, allowing the workers to push through “a couple of thousand” each day.

Riley explained: “We now have a machine that crushes the tyres down into a powder, and then we inject it into foot moulds – it’s a much more streamlined process.”

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Riley said that he’s hopeful that the younger generation of Indonesians are more in tune with environment than their older counterparts and will help to change the way they dispose of their rubbish.

“If they learn and see what we’re doing, then they’re the ones that will start making the change,” he said.

After enjoying a successful Australian launch earlier this week, Riley said he and the team are keen to keep growing the business and branching out.

“We just want to produce footwear that’s appealing to everyone,” he said. “Of course we have a natural affiliation with the beach culture, but I really want to take that further and try to capture a wider audience.”