"I fell in love with the business before it even launched."
An entrepreneur driven to make a positive difference in the world has joined Second Mountain Comms on the final #GoodJourneysPod episode of season two to share his story and bold ambitions for the future of his purpose-driven business.
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University of Brighton design graduate Alex Witty, who resides in Bath, is the founder of Compound Footwear, a groundbreaking new brand of sneakers that has been designed to revolutionise both the motorsport and footwear industries' approach to sustainability.
"Compound Footwear is all about taking motorsport industry waste and re-enegineering it into recycled, sustainable, fashionable footwear," Alex tells Ben Veal on the Good Journeys with Second Mountain podcast. "Our whole business journey and ethos is about taking a waste stream and [repurposing] it back into the market as something that adds more value back into the market and gives people a nice story behind a product. For me as a big sneaker-head and an F1 fan, I thought what better mix to create footwear out of the race tyres run by certain teams. I fell in love with the business before it even launched."
Tackling the dual issues of waste and fast fashion, the environmentally-focused creative entrepreneur is working in partnership with Bath-based international charity Rainforest Concern to deliver real impact through his new footwear range.
"For every shoe that we sell [at Compound], we're going to be contributing towards the protection of 100 square metres of vulnerable rainforest in the South America and Ecuador region. I'm really excited to get that going, and hope to one day be able to visit these unbelievably biodiverse areas that are so important to be preserved."
The launch of Compound Footwear aligns closely with a sizeable sustainability drive that is being seen across both the tyre and motorsport industries at present. Formula 1, in particular, is on a mission to clean up its act: by 2030, F1 aims to develop 100% sustainable fuel, to slash the use of single-use plastics and review its travel and freight logistics, all as part of its commitment to be Net Zero Carbon by 2030.
Yet right now, the sheer level of waste in the motorsport industry is staggering, as Alex explains on the show:
"There's about 70,000 Formula 1 tyres that go to waste every year, that usually get incinerated or dumped into different types of landfills in other countries as it's illegal to do so in the UK. There's a big waste issue. Across motorsport, around 600,000 tyres meet the same fate every year, and then from a road tyre issue, one billion tyres go to waste annually."
Inspiration, for Alex, struck during the COVID-19 pandemic. The seeds for what would eventually become Compound were sown during those surreal times.
"I was studying design during that 'void period' [the COVID-19 pandemic] and I remember, in my final year, I was in my living room with my flatmates watching Drive to Survive on Netflix and it was the episode about the Australian Grand Prix, which was cancelled the day before the race because of the lockdown ... hearing that the 1,800 tyres that had been sent over to Melbourne for race day were then sent back to the UK to be destroyed; if there had to be a eureka moment or a penny-drop moment, it would be that."
Episode 24 of the Good Journeys with Second Mountain podcast is out now.
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Produced in partnership with Resilient Leaders Elements.