What to do with old shoes has always been something of a puzzler for me. Rarely to a wear a shoe so much that it disintegrates beyond repair, but every once in a while it happens. The rest of the time, there are just holes, missing laces, or worn spots that make them inappropriate for donation. But throwing a mostly-intact shoe in the garbage just feels…wrong.
A Utah-based design firm is working on a shoe design that may solve my problem. EarthBaked is a light-weight, affordable shoe that’s completely biodegradable. With in 3 – 6 months of continuous wear, the EarthBaked +/- shoe will be ready to retire, but instead of worrying about throwing them in a landfill, you can simply bury them in your garden, guilt-free.
“The Plus Minus shoe is the embodiment of what I call a “return to sender” design philosophy,” writes designer Steve Boynton. Over the years I’ve contributed my fare share of stuff to the landfill. I’ve realized that this is my opportunity to create with a closed loop product life cycle. Sure, the process isn’t perfect yet. But instead of waiting for the opportunity to come to me, I decided to go after it myself.”
Made from moisture-wicking wool, the shoes are designed to be rolled, flattened, and stuffed into a suitcase or backpack without difficulty. The material is also anti-microbial, water-repellent, and breathable. Sure, they’re not going to replace your hiking boots or favorite pair of heels, but if you just need something to slip into after work or a long bike ride, they’re perfect. And when they wear out, just dig a hole. “The shoes are intended to be buried when worn out, allowing the wool to release nutrients like sulfur and nitrogen back into the soil,” reports Design You Trust.
“If you wear them everywhere everyday they’ll probably last 3 to 6 months,” explains Boynton. “I wear them during the summer months at home and work, everyday. At this rate they last about two summer seasons, or a full year. If you use them as a house shoe (slipper) they could last several years.”
Want to see how they feel? Check out EarthBaked’s page on Kickstarter.