Paddler, environmentalist and founder of River Arts District-based outdoor gear company Astral Philip Curry says his original mission was to produce durable personal floatation devices, or PFDs, out of environmentally sound materials.
“When I started Astral, I had a real clear purpose, which was to clean up the life jacket business and get rid of those polyvinyl chlorides,” Curry explains. “It’s just a really repulsive, toxic chemical that I don’t want anything to do with, and neither does anyone who paddles rivers.”
Recently, Curry has set his sights on what he calls an everyday commodity: footwear. He says his new line of shoes — made using natural hemp fiber — is both practical and environmentally conscious.
“It was chosen because it deals well with water. It doesn’t rot; it doesn’t degrade with UV [ultraviolet radiation] compared to cotton or jute or other things. It’s really a strong, amazing material,” Curry says.
For Curry, promoting sustainability can begin with a single step.
“Shoes are something that we need and something that’s bought and sold several times a year, so they’re tied to the agricultural market and then back to the soil,” Curry says. “The whole company is based on protecting soil and water, and so all of the products we make and sell are just meant to give consumers an option to buy something that was made in a careful way.”
Editor’s note: As part of our monthlong celebration of this region’s commitment to sustainable ways of living and working in community, Xpress is highlighting some of those who are making a difference by taking action on a variety of creative and inspiring initiatives.