The health and environmental problems associated with chewing gum began after the Second World War when the formula for chewing gum changed to synthetic rubbers from its previously marketed natural ingredient, chicle sap from sapodilla tree. People simple spit it out on our streets, leaving us with a fight to avert the consequences. But Amsterdam city marketing organization, designer explicit wear, and Gumdrop Company have collaborated to recycle these litres using them to design shoes, Gumshoe. The sole of gumshoe is made of Gum-Tec, a recyclable compound which constitutes up to 20% gum manufactured by Gumdrop.
“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, Gumdrop managing director and designer. The project states that about 3.3 million pounds of gum litre the streets of Amsterdam annually, which costs the city millions of dollars to get cleaned. Information from the project records that it uses about 1kg (2.2 pounds) of gum to produce four pairs of shoes, and the gum used so far came from the streets of Amsterdam.
The recyclable compounds (Gum-Tec) are produced as granules which are moulded to form Gumshoe sole featuring the city map. “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.” Jonathan Van Loon, a spokesperson for the collaboration said in an email to The Verge. Van Loon also said that Gum-Tec compounds are as strong as normal rubber.
Beside cigarette butts, chewing gum is the next most prevalent form of litter on our streets. Between 80 to 90% of chewing gum are disposed of inappropriately; places like under tables, sidewalks, and the bottom our shoes. About 400 million is spent yearly cleaning gum the United Kingdom where one can be fined 80 pounds for gum littering.
Gumshoe sole is the only chewing gum content in the project. Other materials are leather and the collaborators which referred Gumshoe as the world's first sneakers made from recycled chewing gum is planning to allow customers to “recycle and replace the sole” when they want for free. They are also planning to expand the project to other major cities, introducing an easier and more sustainable means people can get rid of their chewing gum.
Amsterdam Metropolitan Area is trying to create awareness after being surprised by the innovative project offering a special Amsterdam sneaker.
“We are committed every day to offer people a good recreation, living and working experience in the capital of the Netherlands,” said Mustafa Tanriverdi of Amsterdam Metropolitan Area.
“Our city has a lot to offer, especially when the streets are clean. Chewing gum on the streets bothers many people, but it is still thrown on the street. It is time to change that. Adding extra rules and restrictions to reduce the chewing gum problem would be at odds with our mission. With these sneakers, we make people part of the problem, or rather of the solution! In this way, we have much more impact.”
Gumshoe will be available in June for $232 and available in black and red or bubblegum pink.