During the rationing days of WWII, my grandma once had shoes with paper soles, since rubber was in such short supply. Those were probably biodegradable, but the average pair of shoes made today is estimated to last around 1,000 years before it breaks down in a landfill. Not so the new BIO-D line from Simple Shoes.
To learn more I was invited back to the Simple Shoes NYC showroom, for a look at their latest kicks. As before the place had a mellow California vibe, not surprising given the company's hq in Santa Barbara. So I sampled some small cups of Brooklyn Brewery's local craft beers (yum!) and munched on some City Bakery appetizers (French toast corners amazing, Japanese hummus a bit odd). Oh, and I looked at some shoes.
We've written before about Simple Shoes, which has always been a green-leaning brand, and which is a boutique player next to the giant global brands. As my friend Emma Grady writes over on Treehugger, Simple uses hemp uppers, recycled car tire bottoms, organic cotton linings, recycled plastic bottle shoe laces and foot beds, and water-based glues. For Spring 2010, the BIO-D collection is also supposed to break down -- in the low-air environment of a typical landfill -- in 20 years.
How does that happen? According to the company, the midsoles and outsoles of the shoes (as well as shoe bags) are impregnated with EcoPure, a pellet containing millions of tiny microbes. When in contact with the moisture and warmth of a landfill or compost bin (but not during daily use or storage) the microbes break down the shoes. The process takes about 20 years, and works in both anaerobic and aerobic conditions.
Perhaps this technology could be added to many more products!
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