Reebok Is Making a Shoe Out of Corn
Most people give unwanted shoes the boot without much consideration for their sustainability. The Reebok Future crew, however, earns its paychecks and praise for pondering, among other endeavors, the proper development, use and eventual disposal of footwear, and is in the third week of watching take root the Cotton + Corn sustainable products initiative that will bring plant-based shoes to the market this fall.
“Traditionally, the end of a shoe’s life is when you throw them in the back of the closet and eventually throw them away for good,” team vice president Bill McInnis said of the plan, announced April 4, to mesh organic cotton as the upper component and industrial-grown corn as the base to produce what his employer hails as the first-ever plant-based athletic shoe. “What most people don’t think about is that most shoes end up in landfills when people are done with them.”
In ending up confined to those destinations, footwear, though it comprises a small portion of such goods, joins other fashion industry items as non-sustainable apparel options. A CBS News look at the matter cites the Environmental Protection Agency to relay that shoes and other rubber and leather products three years ago amounted to 8.2 million tons of discarded products in America. The Reebok Future contingent, though, had realized the need for novelty even before the release of those figures and connected with DuPont, Tate & Lyle to create the shoe, with the latter using a corn-based plastic substitute, Susterra, to give consumers a respite from footing the costs to the environment that less ingenious manufacturing generates.
“We now have the formula to replicate this across a range of sneakers,” McInnis said of the thoughtful handiwork, which he also tabbed “the blueprint for a lot of shoes to come.”
Much like when they make better nutritional choices, buyers will balk at parting with all of their accustomed delights to enhance sustainability, a fact with which McInnis is well aware, stating they will not need to “sacrifice comfort and style.” Lauding the Susterra material, he said it is yielding “great looking shoes that feel great, too.”
The shoes, which will number 500 pairs for their initial market run, reinforce Reebok’s “Be More Human” philosophy and add another admirable entry to the annals of forging sustainable apparel and reducing environmental footprints. Promising to be as durable as more conventional selections, the Cotton + Corn issues will become models for efficient post-use discussions, as their compostability will contribute to the soil supply that will help to generate more footwear.
“We’re focusing on creating shoes made from things that grow, made from things that bio-compost, made from things that can be replenished,” McInnis declared. “… This is really just the first step for us.”