« At first, I thought I was fighting to save rubber trees...

— Chico Mendes, leading activist in the struggle to protect the Amazon forest. Assassinated by land owners because of his beliefs

Chico Mendes et sa femme, Ilsamar Mendes

Chico Mendes and his wife, Ilsamar Mendes In their Xapuri home in the Brazilian state of Acre, 1988

© Miranda Smith, Miranda Productions, Inc.

House occupied by a family of seringueiros Chico Mendes Extractive Reserve, Amazon, 2013

© Vincent Desailly

One of the main raw materials used in VEJAs is rubber. 130 tons of wild rubber purchased since 2004, means 120,000 total hectares of Amazon forest preserved.

This material is used in the sole of every sneaker. We buy rubber in the Amazon forest, directly from seringueiro communities.

VEJA soles are made of 30 to 40 % natural rubber.

For a kilo of harvested rubber, 1.2 ha of forest is protected every year.

In 2017, VEJA bought wild Brazilian rubber for 2.77€/kg. By comparison, synthetic rubber is negotiated according to crude oil prices and varies between 1.35€/kg and 2.55€/kg.

Our goal is to enhance the economic value of the forest in order to protect it.

GPS location of rubber producers

to the jungle

VEJA team trip to the Chico Mendes Reserve.

© Studio VEJA

The Amazon is the only place on Earth where rubber trees grow in the wild. In the Brazilian state of Acre, the seringueiros, rubber tappers, harvest the rubber used in VEJA soles.

The seringueiros live in the forest and depend on it for survival. Every morning, they make their way through a forest area they have permission to harvest and tap the rubber trees. A path only them know about. This circuit allows the trees to regenerate. On average, each seringueiro harvests 25L of rubber per day.


Seringueiro tapping rubber tree. Amazon, 2016

© Ludovic Carème

Since 2007, VEJA has been working with Amopreab, which coordinates rubber production and pays the seringueiros in the Chico Mendes Reserve. In the state of Acre, VEJA also works with two other associations: « Parque da Cigana » & « Seringal Curralinho ». Today, 120 member families are part of our project.

voyages presse

Press trip with GQ, Grazia and RTL Amazon, 2015

© Ludovic Carème

defender of the Amazon Rainforest

Excerpt from the VEJA travel journal
October 17, 2016 :

We met senhor Antonio last week in the Amazon. He introduced us to his wife and family, his children and grandchildren. He took us into the forest, and, while walking, he told us his story.

He's always been a seringueiro, like his father, who made a living from the forest before him. He fought for his freedom alongside Chico Mendes, the famous Brazilian labour activist, in the 1980s.


AntonioChico Mendes Reserve Seringueiro

© Studio VEJA

The lumberjacks threatened to kill him, and then the police came and arrested him. The entire community told the cops: "If you take him away, we're all coming with you." Antonio sued the logging company and won his case: the trees are still standing.

Listening to him was devastating, because we didn't know these kinds of practices were still going on. But in fact, yes, illegal deforestation still goes on in the Amazon, and yes, there are people like Antonio who fight, who devote their lives to protecting tropical forests.

Last year, we bought 300 kilos of rubber from his son Pedro — which we used to make 1,400 pairs of sneakers.

Bia Saldanha,
Amazon activist


Since 2007, VEJA has been working with Bia Saldanha. This environmental activist is known for her involvement in protecting the Amazon forest. She has worked with local seringueiros communities and met the activist leader Chico Mendes, thanks to her cofoundation of the Brazilian green party in 1983.

To protect the forest, she supports the seringueiros on a daily basis in their work and coordinates the various parties involved in rubber production for VEJA. She also provides technical support, which allows the seringueiros to transform their raw rubber into a semi-finished product themselves, with the help of the FDL or Liquid Rubber Technology process.

Processus de transformation du caoutchouc sauvage liquide en feuille de caoutchouc

The process of transforming liquid wild rubber into rubber sheets. Amazon, 2016

© Ludovic Carème

Technology serving the interests of the Amazon Rainforest

The seringueiros are provided with a technical kit co-financed by the State, VEJA and the WWF. This kit contains bottles of pyrolignous acid and a calender. Once harvested, the liquid rubber — it looks like milk but thicker — is collected in barrels. The rubber is mixed with pyrolignous acid in the calender, which provokes its coagulation. From that step, seringueiros obtain rubber paste. It is then spread into sheets of about 1 m x 1 m x 2 cm, hung to dry like laundry. Once dry, they are stacked in piles of 100 sheets.

This technique yields rubber with a higher purity level, does not suffer from oxidation, and ensures a greater elasticity.

caoutchouc suspendu
semelle carrée

This process is both a technological and social innovation, since it also creates value within the supply chain, and generates more revenues for the rubber producers, who sell a semi-finished product. It therefore reduces the financial incentives of deforestation.