Canadian designer develops sustainable sneakers that grow into an apple tree
[Nov 27, 2021: Sally Ho]
Tackling plastic pollution is the principle purpose behind the new shoe, but they also help the environment a little bit by aiding in reforestation. (Credit: Johnny Footwear)
Sustainable sneakers have never been more stylish, but one Canadian designer wants to take it up a notch. Based in Toronto, Luc Houle has created a new shoe that is not only biodegradable, but can grow into an apple tree in its afterlife.
Tackling plastic pollution is the principle purpose behind the new shoe, but they also help the environment a little bit by aiding in reforestation.
Named after Johnny Appleseed who introduced apple trees to many parts of North America, Houle’s brand, Johnny Footwear, makes shoes that look like your average pair but gives back to nature after it’s worn. The Canadian designer has just launched a campaign on Kickstarter to get supporters for the project.
From sustainable sneaker to apple tree
Johnny is made from 100% biodegradable and Fair Trade certified materials. The shoes are well-cushioned to provide comfort, and also boast lightweight and water-resistant qualities.
Each shoe, which looks like normal canvas sneakers, contains an apple seed in the natural rubber soles. When the shoe is worn and torn, people can bury Johnny in the soil, where it will biodegrade and release the fertiliser-coated apple seed.
The materials which the shoe is made from contain naturally-occurring compounds which attract microorganisms to feed on and break down the shoe over three years.
Even if you don’t get around to burying them, they will still biodegrade if thrown in a landfill.
On Kickstarter, supporters can choose between two colourways: black and white, both featuring red laces. Each pair will sell for $109 and will ship by next summer in recycled packaging if the campaign reaches its goal.
Tackling plastic pollution while planting trees
Houle dreamed up the idea for the project after seeing first-hand the enormous waste caused by fashion, after spending seven years in the industry. One of the problems he noticed was the heavy use of plastic in the soles of cheap sneakers, which drives demand for fossil fuel materials and leaves behind “forever” pollution in the environment.
“Plastic sticks around for about 1,000 years after we throw it away. I kind of wanted to do something to fix that,” he told local news site BlogTo.
“The nice thing about this project is that because it’s a biodegradable sneaker that grows into a tree, we can kind of help, number one, offset people’s carbon footprint, but we’re also helping eliminate plastics. And the more people we can reach with that the more of an impact we can have.”
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