We all know that we should pay more attention to where our clothes come from, whether that means championing designers who use environmentally-friendly fabrics or refusing to buy from companies that use sweat shops.
But what happens to our clothes after we’re done with them can have just as big an impact on the environment as how they’re made. Over 30% of clothing in the UK goes to landfill at the end of its life, according to recent research, with the average person in the UK producing 70 kg of textile waste a year.
The obvious solution is to recycle your old clothes or donate them to charity, rather than just chucking them in the bin. But what if the offending item is a pair of battered old running shoes that nobody else in their right mind would possibly want – and there isn’t a shoe recycling bank near you?
Enter: compostable trainers.
Adidas have just launched their first pair of biodegradable trainers. Dubbed the Adidas Futurecraft Biofabric, the shoes are made from a type of synthetic spider silk called Biosteel, which requires far less electricity and fossil fuels to produce than plastics (which most ordinary trainers are made from).
Incredibly, the shoes come with a special enzyme solution – which allows their owners to dissolve their sneakers at home in the sink after around two years of wear and tear. The solution comes in little sachets, and can safely disintegrate a pair of Futurecraft Biofabrics in just a couple of hours.
“We’ve started looking into whether we can achieve a neutral effect on the environment,” Adidas’s global creative director, James Carnes, tells Wired.
He adds: “Most people don’t think about buying a product that’s intended to break down.” But, he says, the meaning of luxury is beginning to change – and more and more, people are searching for lightweight, beautiful items that won’t have a negative impact on the world around them.
The shoe is a prototype for now, but Adidas hopes to have Futurecraft Biofabrics in stores around the world by 2017.