Jason Momoa has been one of Hollywood’s leading environmental activists in recent years, and now he’s taking his fight against single-use plastic pollution to the footwear industry. The “Aquaman” star has teamed up with St. Louis, Mo.-based climbing brand So iLL for a signature line of sustainable outdoor and lifestyle products, including shoes and sandals.
Since launching the So iLL x On the Roam collaboration by Jason Momoa in 2019, more products have been introduced through direct-to-consumer, including waterproof outdoor bags, tees, chalk bags and face masks. Materials used include 100% organic cotton, BLOOM Foam for the sneaker insoles, which is made from 30% BLOOM Resin with top layer of cork — and a rubber outsole mixed with Eco Pure technology that helps cut down on decomposition time in a landfill. Packaging is all plastic-free, as well.
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Creating more end-of-life solutions are top of mind and a continuous conversation, according to the company.
While Momoa is vocal about climate change — having addressed the United Nations in 2019 about that issue and recently launched a water company made out of 100% recyclable aluminum cans called Mananalu Pure Water — he’s just as zealous about climbing.
It’s the sport that brought So iLL founder Daniel Chancellor and Momoa together for this collaboration.
“We both came from the same kind of place. I grew up with my mother in Iowa. She took me on a trip to the Needles in South Dakota [when I was 15]. I was just blown away by it and I fell in love. Then every weekend I would travel to Minnesota just to go to this climbing gym because there are very few and far between in the Midwest,” Momoa told FN.
With a similar Midwestern upbringing, Chancellor wanted to create a brand as refuge for climbing enthusiasts seeking the same sense of freedom the sport has offered him when he first starting making climbing holds in his barn with his brother in 2002. To take his dream further, he has since launched the non-profit 1Climb, which partners with the Boys and Girls Clubs across America by building climbing walls in their club facilities and taking their members to local climbing gyms.
“The access point for this new generation of outdoor enthusiasts actually starts inside,” explained Chancellor. “Then eventually they transition outside. And once you start climbing, you start spending time outdoors, you start experiencing the environment. That brings more respect. It gets people thinking about sustainability in that way, too. So if we can get more people climbing and more people outdoors with this collaboration, that’s going to help sustainability down to a personal level.”
Here, Momoa — who presented Birkenstock with FN’s 2020 brand of the year award — opens up about his mission to help the earth and how climbing has been part of this journey.
When did you start living this sustainable lifestyle?
“It’s been that way since the beginning. I was a [marine] and [wildlife] biology major, which is really amazing to go full circle and become ‘Aquaman’ because I can really attack certain things and bring awareness to topics that have been in my heart since I was a little kid.”
How do climbing and sustainability intersect?
“I just always wanted to be outside and to be in nature. It keeps me grounded, keeps me level. It keeps me connected to the environment and something that humbles me. It’s just my life’s passion. Dan and I share climbing. I learned how to lead climb in my garage, hanging from the rafters. It’s all about wanting to do the movement and how it feels in your body. We both agree on this lifestyle and the more that I can bring some positivity to it, we can make a little bit of change. We’re small. We can try to do this and hopefully we’re doing our part. If it gets bigger, that’s the whole goal. You can’t wait for the bigger companies to [make change].”
Why was it critical for this collaboration to be eco-conscious?
“Just thinking about sandals and all the waste that goes into it. Being in the islands where I was born and going to see my father, seeing all the flip flops, the sandals. If I could make something that was algae-based and you could put that in your garden and it’s completely compostable — that would be amazing. [Chancellor is working on this goal]. So it’s a beautiful thing to go out and pitch an idea and have your friend instantly turn it around. It just keeps evolving.”
The collection includes styles in your signature pink. What was the inspiration behind the designs?
“I literally called Dan after this year’s [presidential inauguration], and said, ‘Bro, I need unity purple shoes now.’ After that happened and I saw all the ladies in purple, I said this country needs to be purple. Style matters. How you feel and how you wear it is important. I mean, I’m an actor who puts on many different costumes to play different roles. I really love that we can have some function and fashion and make something good for the Earth. And I just love pink. It has a calming effect on me. I like the lighter side of everything.”
As a consumer, what do you do on your day-to-day to live more sustainably?
“Trying to make sure that everything is not plastic — it’s really, really challenging. I’m on all these sets and even though it’s recyclable plastic, I hate using it. So I’m like, ‘Can we make utensils and give it to the whole crew?’ I’m just trying to cut down, because we join the circus when [I work] on different shows and there’s so much that goes into feeding everyone. I’m just coming to Dan with ideas to make that change in my own business. That’s how I look at it from my own life.”
How important is it for you to use your platform to speak about these environmental issues?
“I’ve met with massive companies trying to find ways to heal this plastic problem and there’s so many solutions. It’s really quite sad if you break it down and hear [excuses] from the big companies — they have solutions. It just costs more. And it’s just f—ing sad. So where they’re not doing it, at least I have to try. I don’t know how people can’t. If I’m in this place, I’m playing ‘Aquaman,’ I’m in this position, I have to try to at least tackle these things. You can’t take, take, take. You have to give back. I feel guilty. I see it. I’ve lived this single-use plastic life and it just buckles me.”