Recent news of Nike joining the Plant PET Technology Collaborative to help accelerate the development and inclusion of plant based plastic in products is encouraging, but the question remains, what happens to the resulting shoes and garments after they’ve reached end of life? Nike certainly has an admirable, decades old shoe recycling program to manage that stream. It’s emerging Materials Sustainability Index, open to all designers, will likely prove influential in how the next generation of products are designed.
But what if you could just bury your shoes in the back yard and forget about them? This is what OAT Shoes allows you to do. According to OAT, its shoes are made of hemp, bio-cotton, cork, and certified biodegradable plastics. And flower seeds. Yes, your shoes will leave behind both new soil and flowers when they are gone.
What if you don’t have a back yard? OAT is currently working with waste processors so that the shoes could simply be tossed in the green bin. The people of OAT are clearly realists when they say,
Considering the amount of sexy sneakers out there, odds are style is what makes the difference and we can’t really blame you, because that’s how we choose our shoes. Still, we don’t agree with the situation: we want to be able to choose green and style. And since that doesn’t seem to exist, we decided to take the first step with OAT Shoes. May it cater to all of you in search of some conscious style!
The shoes live up to this aim, eschewing the downmarket hippie style typically featured in ecologically minded shoes, in favor of broadly appealing, style-conscious looks. When you don’t force people to choose between being conscious and stylish, big movement is possible.
OAT shoes will not biodegrade if you wear them in the rain – material breakdown only takes place at a certain level of heat and with the presence of the appropriate microbes, such as those found in soil. But the company makes no such guarantees about the flower seeds sprouting while still in the shoe: “Honestly, we don’t think so. But we’re not 100% sure and kind of hope they do: it would be hilarious!”
OAT shoes are currently only available in Europe; it will be interesting to see how well they are received in the market and if other manufacturers follow their lead.
Readers: How do you think such shoes would do in other parts of the world? How/can OATs products be improved? They have expressed that they know they’re quite far from perfect and welcome feedback and criticism. So let them hear from you, below!
[Image credits, OAT Shoes website, Sustainable Brands]
Paul Smith is a sustainable business innovator, global trend tracker, the founder of GreenSmith Consulting, and has an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School in San Francisco. He creates interest in, conversations about, and business for green (and greening) companies, via social media marketing.