In cities around the world, one of the most common waste problems is something you might not expect: chewing gum. Literally millions of kilograms of gum are left behind on city streets every year. And now one major city – Amsterdam – is doing something about it. The city’s marketing organization, IAmsterdam, is partnering with a high-end shoe designer, Explicit Wear, and a sustainability company called Gumdrop in order to introduce the world’s first ever shoe made from recycled gum: the Gumshoe.
These high-end kicks don’t come cheap – the retail price will be $232 when they debut in June – but they are part of an effort to bring awareness about the problem of gum on city streets. The goal, in fact, is to have gum-free streets in Amsterdam. According to city officials, gum is the second-most common waste product found on city streets, trailing only cigarettes. As a result, the tagline of the new Gumshoe will be “For the sole purpose of clean streets.”
The creation of the Gumshoe is actually rather ingenious. First, the city needed to hire someone to collect and clean up all the gum on Amsterdam’s urban streets. That’s actually a tall task because, every year, people deposit 1.5 million kilograms of gum on the streets. Then, once all the gum has been collected, it needs to be recycled into a more usable form.
That’s where Gumdrop comes into the picture. The company has created a number of innovative processes for creating new sustainable compounds for the rubber and plastics industry. And this time around, the goal is to create a synthetic rubber compound comprised of at least 25% gum. Then, once this rubber compound has been created, it can be molded into a bright pink rubber sole. For now, the shoe will come in both bubblegum pink and red/black. In June, look for retailers to stock Gumshoe.
The bright color pink, of course, will help to raise awareness about the gum problem in city streets. But will it actually work? After all, many people think nothing of leaving their gum behind wherever they want. It’s the reason why you’ll find gum stuck on park benches, on the bottom of city bus seats and, of course, all over the street.
Amsterdam officials say that they want to bring awareness “without being preachy.” In today’s eco-conscious world, where most people have at least started thinking about ways that they can reduce their environmental footprint – one easy way to reduce that footprint (literally) is by wearing a shoe made from recycled gum.
It’s all part of a broader effort by the fashion industry to look at waste differently. Several Canadian fashion and lifestyle brands – including wood watch company