by Daphné Leprince-Ringuet
Fashion brand Explicit is launching a worldwide sale of a new trainer this month, made from the all too familiar splodges that cover the streets of most city centres: chewing gum.
The shoe was developed in Amsterdam in collaboration with sustainability company Gumdrop, which recycles chewing gum to create Gum-tec, a material made up of 20 per cent gum and is used to manufacture new products such as stationery or packaging.
Gum-tec was used to create the Gumshoes’ soles. Explicit’s designers Shaquille Gunther and Garedi Sebeara created 500 pairs of trainers with 300kg of gum taken from the streets of Amsterdam.
“We created a nice, simple design that worked well and then sent it to our producer in Turkey to try out. The shoe came out still smelling of gum!” Gunther said.
“It’s great for the environment. In Amsterdam, gum is the second biggest source of litter after cigarettes, so it is a pretty big problem.”
The issue is also significant in Britain. According to the charity Keep Britain Tidy, 95 per cent of the country’s streets are stained with gum.
Ben Bradshaw, former Under Secretary of State at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, says that initiatives like Gumshoe are an effective way of tackling the problems posed by chewing gum waste.
“People are not aware of the extent of the issue of gum litter and of the cost to the council tax payer of removing it – approximately 10p per piece of gum.
“Waste should be a huge priority because it is an area of environmental policy where small changes can make significant impacts on the amounts that go to landfill.”
The Gumshoe is a step towards a cleaner urban landscape. Producing the shoe, however, may cause damage to the environment.
CO2Shoe, a research project led by the European Confederation of the Footwear Industry, shows that manufacturing footwear components is a major cause of greenhouse emissions.
Sebeara says the business has taken measures to combat its environmental impact: “We are working with a small atelier in Turkey, where everything is done by hand. It takes more production time, but it means that the manufacturing process does not cost the environment.”
For Joaquín Ferrer, who conducted the CO2Shoe project, the Gumshoe remains a sustainable innovation: “Of course, it would be much better if they could work with local producers and components’ providers, so the long-distance transport is avoided.
“But overall it does seem like an eco-friendly solution, because transport, as opposed to manufacturing, involves only a small percentage of the carbon footprint of a shoe.”
The Gumshoe will cost £175 and can already be ordered with worldwide shipping on Explicit’s official website.