Even shoes that are built to last have an expiration date. If you use your favorite pair of sneakers every day, normal wear and tear will eventually lead to holes that are too big to ignore. At that point, once-useful footwear becomes waste that sits in a landfill for centuries. One company has responded to this issue by selling shoes that are made to degrade and give life to new plants.
As Earth.com reports, the shoes from Johnny Footwear are designed to be planted in the ground at the end of their lifespan. The product consists of simple materials, like water-resistant cotton coated with beeswax and cushiony cork for the insoles.
The most revolutionary component of the shoe, however, may be the biodegradable midsole. In many tennis shoes, the midsoles are made from ethylene vinyl acetate. The majority of a shoe might break down in three to four decades, but midsoles made from this material can stick around for up to 1000 years. Johnny Footwear's midsoles are designed to fully decompose within three years. Biodegradeable isn't a descriptor most people look for when shopping for shoes, but Johnny Footwear promises its shoes won't disintegrate while you're wearing them. The sneakers are designed to degrade gradually underground—not on your feet.
The company is named after Johnny Appleseed, the legendary figure who planted apple trees across America, and every pair of shoes it sells contains a nod to its namesake. An apple seed is embedded in the arch area, and as the shoe breaks down, the seed is released into the earth. The fertilizer casing around the seed encourages it to germinate within a few years of being planted. And for every pair of shoes sold, the company pledges to plant an additional tree on the customer's behalf.
After successfully raising $73,000 on Kickstarter last year, Johnny Footwear plans to start shipping its shoes in August of 2022. You can pre-order a pair in black or white for $135 from the company's website.