Why shoe covers?
So I should start by clarifying that Shoe Inn does not manufacture the shoe covers. We also are not the inventor of shoe covers either. That goes back quite a few decades, long before we existed.
What is unique about what we are doing is the automatic dispensing of shoe covers. See, without an automatic dispenser, employees must stop at the barrier to entry for the facility, sit down, and put on their shoe covers. If there’s no place to sit, then they have to do what we call the “bootie hop.” Needless to say, many employees don’t like the process for comfort or medical reasons, and sometimes it can be unsafe. It’s also time consuming.
With an automatic dispenser, you basically put your foot in and pull it back out. It’s maybe 2 seconds of your day, bada-bing, you’re done. Same thing goes for the automatic remover. The benefit is that improves the worker’s day, making things simpler and safer, makes life more efficient, and encourages people to comply with standard operating procedures by making life as painless as possible.
What are some best practices for keeping the grow room clean?
We’re in the process of learning more about growing, which is part of why we joined Growers Network and attend trade shows regularly.
But, luckily, best practices for shoe covers are pretty standard. Wherever the entrance is to the cleanroom or rooms you wish to protect, you should have a “gowning room” or locker room in front of it where employees can change out of their street clothes and into their work clothes, or whatever they need to do to clean up prior to entering the facility. The locker room should contain everything you think your employees need to clean up prior to entry, including hair nets, shoe covers, showers, and scrubs or other clothing.
Our shoe covers help with compliance because the automatic dispensing is so fast. People working with them take less than 3 seconds to apply their shoe covers, rather than having to stop, bend over and “bootie hop” or sit down to apply the covers. One of our best testimonials, ironically, comes from employees complaining when the automatic dispensers get removed for whatever reason. They get used to the convenience and the ease.
What’s your opinion on the environmental impact of disposable clothes?
That’s a great question, and it’s related to my degrees.
In theory, shoe covers can be reused, but they can’t be guaranteed to be clean like they were from purchase. Additionally, they can’t be repackaged for the dispenser apparatus, because that requires some special tools and labor to do.
Instead, we’re focusing on efforts to make our disposable clothing items biodegradable, so whatever material they’re made out of will biodegrade much faster than they would otherwise. We’re actually experimenting with a biodegradable additive. It’s been a pet project of mine for some time now, and we’re starting to approach the point in time where we could apply it to all of our products.
What materials are the shoe covers made out of? Can you make them out of hemp?
Most of our shoe covers are made out of polypropylene non-woven fabric. Nothing is proprietary. Any waterproofing or non-slip version of our items have an additional layer of polyethylene added to them.
We’ve also looked into using hemp to make the shoe covers. In 2017, a Canadian company approached us about it, and we determined it was scientifically possible to do and keep clean. The problem is that it’s not fiscally reasonable to make hemp shoe covers... yet. We’d have to export hemp from a hemp producing country to our assembly factories in China (and you know how China feels about cannabis), and then ship it to the US. That’s a lot of shipping expenses and hassles that make it economically infeasible to do at this time.
About Jeff Foster
Tell me a little bit about your background and education.
My undergraduate and master’s degrees were both in environmental studies at USC. I focused on environmental and land-use planning, working in the field nearly 8 years after graduation. I was focused on documentation for CEQA and NEPA.
Since then, I started Shoe Inn over 10 years ago as the Global Product Manager. I’ve been marketing, going to trade shows, and doing everything I can.
How did the cannabis industry come to your attention?
About two years ago, one of my former assistants brought it to my attention. Part of our work is finding industries that may have a use for our products, and she learned enough about growing to recommend it. We discovered MJBizCon a bit too late for that year, but we went in Fall of 2017.
What we’ve seen is that the industry is rapidly evolving and coming of age. People are more concerned about environmental cleanliness in their grows now, and we heard lots of positive feedback from MJBizCon.
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About the Author
Hunter Wilson is a community builder with Growers Network. He graduated from the University of Arizona in 2011 with a Masters in Teaching and in 2007 with a Bachelors in Biology.