Would you buy the world’s most expensive flip-flops?

August 18, 2011

Save the rain forest: Buy the world’s most expensive sandal.

U.S.-based footwear company Chipkos is selling the world’s most expensive flip-flops with an eco-friendly spin. The hand-painted sandals, priced at $18,000, come with the promise that Chipkos will protect 100,000 square feet of endangered rain forest in Costa Rica.

Los Angeles artist David Palmer created the vivacious sandals, modeled after an Indian style that features a square design. The shape also references the company’s environmental campaign, “Stand for Square Feet.”

Are the world’s ritziest flip-flops out of your price range? No worries; Stand for Square Feet also offers $42 versions of the shoe for men and women in different colors and prints. Each purchase of the more reasonably priced footwear will protect 100 square feet of land. The shoes can be bought online at www.chipkos.com.

The marketing drive for these one-of-a-kind sandals has attracted attention in mainstream U.S. media. Many of them have given the shoes a positive review, matched with a tongue-in-cheek addendum about how you shouldn’t wear these shoes out to the “supermarket” (Time) or the “nail salon” (New York Magazine). The Tico Times would like to add that it is not recommended to wear these flip-flops to Costa Rica’s renowned beaches.

As AOL Daily Finance put it, “It’s Art, Not Footwear.”

Of course, shoe shopping is neither the cheapest nor most direct way to protect areas of Costa Rica’s rain forest. As one savvy Glamour.com reader pointed out, The Nature Conservancy’s Adopt an Acre program at http://adopt.nature.org/acre/costa-rica/ will let you support an acre of land in southwestern Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula for $50, thus enabling you to help protect more than 130,000 square feet (3 acres) of rain forest for just $150.

Still, the high-priced Chipkos product helps bring awareness to eco-friendly products. And for those searching for a new pair of environmentally beneficial sandals, the $42 pairs are affordable options. Chipkos acknowledges the absurdity of selling flip-flops for so high a price that wearing them makes little sense. Snagging these shoes will net the buyer a wood and glass display case to show off the fanciest flops on earth.

Other eco-friendly shoe companies:

www.BeyondSkin.co.uk, www.Moonshoes.com – Both sell vegan-friendly footwear.

www.Etnies.com – Etnies’ “Buy a Shoe, Plant a Tree” campaign plants trees at north-central Costa Rica’s La Reserva Forest Foundation for every pair of Jameson 2 Eco shoes ($55) bought.

www.OATshoes.com – These sneaks can double as a makeshift vase after they are worn out. The shoes, made from 100 percent organic material, degrade after about six months. Plant them afterward and watch wildflowers sprout. The seeds are housed in the shoe’s tongue.

www.SimpleShoes.com – All shoes made from recycled materials, including carpet padding, hemp, recycled car tires, bamboo and coconut.

www.save4soles.org – A shoe recycling program that ships sneakers to impoverished recipients.

www.Unu-life.com – Do-it-yourself shoes made from a single sheet of recycled leather.

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