In a world filled with disposable products, one Toronto designer is creating a more sustainable world, one shoe at a time. Most shoes contain a mix of plastics and synthetic materials, and once they’re discarded, they can take roughly 1,000 years to biodegrade. The materials found in shoes leave a heavy carbon footprint, spending entire centuries cluttering landfills and beyond. 33-Year-old Luc Houle knew there had to be a better option, and he took it upon himself to create it.
With seven years of experience in the fashion industry, Houle knows how important it is to find a balance between look and functionality. But his shoe design had an added challenge – using sustainable and easily-biodegradable materials. Houle’s seed of an idea grew, and after years of trial and error, Johnny was created.
“We spent 2 years researching and testing a revolutionary new compound that retains the comfort of a modern sneaker while also taking care of our planet,” Johnny’s Kickstarter explains. “Johnny shoes last as long as your favorite sneakers, and most likely even longer! Wear them as long as you like and when you’re done with them, plant them in the ground.”
Yes, you read that right. Johnnys aren’t designed to break down slightly more quickly than your average shoe. Once they’re buried, it’s game on. Enzymes found in nature help the shoes break down, pulling apart their components underground and inviting microorganisms inside for a feast.
“Eighteen months after this process has started, a pod containing an apple seed breaks free from the sole,” the website continues. “The casing of the seed acts as a shield during the manufacturing process, protecting it from extreme heat, as well as a natural fertilizer once the outsole has biodegraded.”
Just a few years after planting your well-loved shoe outside, a juvenile apple tree will stand in its place. Johnny: The Shoe That Grows Into a Tree is named after Johnny Appleseed himself, an extremely fitting namesake. Just like Johnny Appleseed introduced apple trees to parts of Canada and the northern US, Luc Houle is introducing apple trees to the fashion industry. Houle is a different sort of pioneer, but he too is changing the world – one seed at a time.
Pre-order your Johnny’s here, and take a step towards saving the planet.