These New Shoes Will Decompose in Your Sink


Adidas has made some really inventive products in the last couple years. The sportswear giant, who manufactures more than 300 million products a year, has been working to stretch the boundaries of shoe design in as many directions as they can. The latest shoe might be their most environmentally progressive yet.

“We’ve started looking into whether we can achieve a neutral effect on the environment,” says James Carnes, Adidas’ Global Creative Director. Manufacturing the traditional plastic-based sports shoe requires fossil fuels – something the brand recognizes is damaging to the environment and people alike. Their solution is to find alternative, eco-friendly ways to produce shoes en masse.

A couple years ago, they created a shoe 3D-printed with recycled ocean plastic and distributed 7,000 for consumers to snatch up. Now they’ve gone even further and, in tandem with innovative textile company AMSilk, have invented a shoe that decomposes in the sink when the consumer no longer needs them. The material is a synthetic spider-silk called Biosteel – something scientists have been trying to create for years. The fabric is equally soft as it is strong, and has also been vetted to be used in surgical implants and solar sails.

© adidas Group

The concept raises some immediate and pretty obvious questions. What happens when it rains? Won’t they melt off your feet? Simple answer: No. The shoes are made to decompose only when water is mixed with a special, naturally-derived enzyme solution. The process is 100% natural.

One caveat: the sole is made of a foam-like material that doesn’t decompose, so consumers will still have to dispose of it. Still, the outlook is hopeful! “Recycling footwear can be an energy intense process and if we have an upper that doesn’t need to be recycled that helps,” Carnes continues.

Although the product is still a prototype right now, Adidas projects it’ll be on shelves to consumers by next year.

Image courtesy of Adidas.