BC SoftWear is working to make slippers more sustainable, without compromising on the high-end quality five-star guests expect. In this exclusive editorial, we join them on their journey of tackling sustainability, one pair of slippers at a time.

British-based, family-run and celebrating 21 years in business this year, BC SoftWear supplies high-end towels, bathrobes and footwear to luxury hotels and spas worldwide.

“Our top hotel clients are increasingly asking us for more sustainable options, especially when it comes to the bedroom slipper,” said BC SoftWear’s founder and CEO, Barbara Cooke. “We have been creating environmentally friendly ways to meet luxury towelling and robe needs, without compromising on quality, for many years. Our SupremeSoft robes, towels and spa linens use up to 70% less energy compared with a traditional towel, 10% less water and require 31% less drying time. But hoteliers are now turning their attention to the problem of making bedroom slippers more ecological.

“Slippers are a luxury hotel bedroom staple; guests expect a quality slipper in their room, but they remain hugely unsustainable. Guests wear them once and leave them behind, resulting in a ‘slipper mountain’ as they’re almost impossible to recycle.

“BC SoftWear has offered biodegradable slippers for many years and, while some customers have gone down that road, for many they don’t feel luxurious enough, and as they still need time to biodegrade, it’s not a perfect solution.”

An achievable answer

Last year, BC SoftWear began working alongside Reskinned, specialists in recycling end-of-life textiles and footwear, to repurpose spa flip flops but turning them into the surfaces used for children’s playgrounds. Despite extensive research, Reskinned is unable to apply the same principle to bedroom slippers, as the process of deconstructing the slipper sole and cotton upper is too costly to be viable.

“We’ve worked with Sue Williams, General Manager at Whatley Manor, to create a solution that maintains the level of quality guests expect while supporting the circular economy,” said Barbara. “Whatley Manor has replaced slippers with a bespoke, intricately designed flip flop in guest bedrooms, with a paper wrap saying: ‘please take me home’. We’re enticing guests to re-use them and if they don’t, they can be recycled. It’s a more sustainable, high-end alternative to the bedroom slipper.”

BC SoftWear is now working to introduce other hotel partners to this option, offering a simple and achievable solution to the serious issue that is slipper wastage within hotels.