Cotton + Corn = Sustainable Shoes

Later this year, the footwear brand Reebok will launch the first plant-based athletic shoe. Bill McInnis, the vice president of Reebok’s Future Team, a team designed to innovate products and the processes of shoe production, said in a post on Reebok’s website that the company’s goal is to “clean up the entire life cycle of shoe making: from what shoes are made of to where they end up.” With Cotton + Corn, which is what Reebok is calling this initiative, the brand will focus on the development, use, and post-use shoe production cycles. Reebok plans to use sustainable materials to produce shoes that are still fashionable so consumers will buy them, and it is also focused on what happens when people are done using the shoes.

Textiles have a big ecological footprint with all the waste they produce, especially from the footwear industry. Shoes get thrown out and sit in landfills because the oil-based plastic used in most shoes is not biodegradable, but Reebok’s plant-based shoes can be composted when they fall out of use. The plant-based shoe’s top is made of organic cotton and the base is made of an industrial-grown corn called Susterra® propanediol that’s manufactured by DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products, with which Reebok has partnered. Then, that compost can be used in the soil, where new plant materials are grown for more shoes.

Americans throw away at least 300 million pairs of shoes a year. Photo by Alan Levine/Flickr.

Americans throw away at least 300 million pairs of shoes a year. Photo by Alan Levine/Flickr. Getty Images.

In today’s world of fast fashion, where the textiles industry produces waste in massive amounts, a plant-based shoe could do a lot to make the industry’s ecological footprint smaller.

— Jenna

Featured Image: Reebok will be releasing a plant-based shoe later this year. Photo by Pablo Cuadra/Stringer. Getty Images.

If saving the planet is something you’re into, check out these items in the Interweave store to create crafts by recycling old items:


One Comment

  1. Nancy S at 8:46 am May 29, 2017

    Thank you for this article. I would encourage you and readers to take an even larger perspective when analyzing the use of cotton or corn. Cotton is lovely – we all love cotton. But know that growing cotton uses more water than any other crop (water is truly becoming a looming crisis). Similarly, sustainably grown corn is rare and one needs to ask what resources / chemicals were used with these crops. There are no easy answers here. But learning and understanding more about the FULL life cycle of production of the items we purchase is needed.

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