When most people think of common street waste, they imagine abandoned cigarette butts, paper fliers, or old soda cans. Below this familiar layer of filth, there's another substance ground into the very sidewalk: chewed gum. In Amsterdam, gum is the city's second most common litter, after cigarettes.
A marketing organization called Iamsterdam paired with designer Explicit Wear and sustainability group Gumdrop to find a use for all this garbage and turn it into a usable material. Gumshoe was born.
A Plus reports that the Gumshoe is made with Gumdrop's recycling technology branch, Gum-Tec. They collect their gum from special bins that offer conscientious chewers a drop off, and also pair with gum manufacturers who want to divert factory waste away from landfills. The finished compound is made from 20 percent recycled chewing gum, and is being used to form the sole of the Gumshoe. Their goal is to find a way to replace plastics with their new materials in other production lines.
Mustafa Tanriverdi, head of marketing and investments for the Amsterdam Metropolitan area, says in the Gumshoe's promotional video that their aim isn't just to recycle, but to draw people's attention to the amount of waste created by gum chewing.
"With these shoes, we take a step closer towards gum-free streets and at the same time, create awareness among gum users without being preachy," says Tanriverdi.
Every four pairs of Gumshoes requires about 2.2 pounds of gum for fabrication. That may sound like a lot, but Amsterdam has an estimated 3.3 million pounds of gum on its streets. The upper part of the shoe is made from leather, and the creators are working on a way to make the sole replaceable, for a fee.
According to The Verge, the sole has been formed into a map of the actual city, as a way to further remind people of where the material they're walking on came from.
“We started looking for a way to make people aware of this problem," said spokesperson Jonathan Van Loon. "That’s when the idea began to create a product people actually want from something no one cares about."
Van Loon claims the soles of the shoes even smell like gum when they come out of the box—but they're not sticky. The shoes are available in June for about $232 USD. It'll never matter if you step in chewed gum again.