You either already own a lot of shoes or you regularly buy a lot of new pairs of shoes. I fall in the latter category. I probably hold onto my shoes longer than recommended, maybe purchasing a new casual pair of shoes to wear every day, every year and a half. In the United States alone, around 300 million pairs of shoes are thrown away each year and end up in landfills where they take up to 40 years to decompose. That means by the time I turn 64, my pair of Adidas sneakers will finally be broken down. Noticing the environmental impact that shoe waste has on the earth, Laura Muth created ‘Shoes with an Expiration Date,’ a prototype of modular sneakers made entirely from compostable material.

Generally, fast-fashion uses carbon-intensive, nonrenewable resources like petrochemical textiles to construct items like shoes, making the industry one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in circulation today. While Muth’s ‘Shoes with an Expiration Date’ prototype is not market-ready and still in the mock-up phase, the designer aims to create a pair of shoes whose expiration date is far shorter than that of the shoes made from nonrenewable resources like plastic currently on the market. Ditching toxic glue for an isolable, modular structure, the individual parts of ‘Shoes with an Expiration Date’ are tied together with a compostable shoestring.

‘Shoes with an Expiration Date’ are handmade by Laura Muth from locally sourced, compostable materials. The sole of the shoe is molded with comfort and support in mind from latex extract derived from dandelion root, straw, sawdust, and natural dyes. The string and side support that holds the shoe together are made from cellulose felt and woven hemp. As the shoes are currently constructed, the bottom sole is soft and supportive but does not seem as long-lasting and heavy-duty as the plastic ones currently available on the market. As ‘Shoes with an Expiration Date’ is still in the prototype phase, rest assured that fine-tuning in shape, structure, and support is on the way.

Designer: Laura Muth

The shoestrings are made from woven hemp, while the frame is made from cellulose felt, and the shoe’s sole from dandelion root extract.

Coming in three different parts, the prototype is isolable.

Constructed using a building blocks method, the sole’s imprint leaves a layer for the cellulose felt support to rest atop.

During initial mock-up phases, Muth aimed to reduce the shoe to its essential elements.

Muth used an old sneaker and plastering to form the shape of the prototype’s sole.

With future development, Muth hopes to bridge sustainability with aesthetics and support.

Inspired by the building method of LEGOS, Muth designed isolable, modular shoes constructed from compostable materials.

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