Chewing gum is somewhat of a universal pastime, but the consequence is often the amount of gum left on streets when people spit it out. To reduce waste and litter, city marketing organization Iamsterdam, designer Explicit Wear, and sustainability company Gumdrop have collaborated to design a shoe from the recycled gum. Called Gumshoe, the shoe’s sole is made of recyclable compounds (known as Gum-Tec) produced by Gumdrop, and those compounds are made up of 20 percent gum.
“We discovered gum is made from a synthetic rubber. And by breaking down these properties, we were able to create a new type of rubber,” says Anna Bullus, managing director and designer at Gumdrop. According to the project, roughly 3.3 million pounds of gum make it onto Amsterdam pavements each year, and that costs the city millions of dollars to clean up. The project uses around 2.2 pounds (1 kg) of gum for every four pairs of shoes.
The recycled gum that was used was scraped from the streets in Amsterdam. The Gum-Tec compounds are formed as granules and are then molded into the sole of the shoe, which also features a map of the city. “We started looking for a way to make people aware of this problem [...] That’s when the idea began to create a product people actually want from something no one cares about,” a spokesperson for the collaboration, Jonathan Van Loon, said in an email to The Verge. Van Loon says the compounds are as strong as normal rubber and even smell of gum — minus all the stickiness.
The Gumshoe project says it’s the world’s first pair of sneakers made from gum. Apart from the sole, the rest of the shoe is made from leather. The collaborators are also looking into potentially allowing customers to recycle and replace the sole when they need to (for a fee). The creators want to expand the project to other major cities, and they want to introduce an easier and more sustainable way for people to get rid of their chewing gum.
The shoes are available in bubblegum pink or black and red. They’ll be available in June for 190 euros (about $232).