A step towards gum-free streets

Amsterdam clothing brand Explicit Wear has partnered with sustainability company Gumdrop Ltd to create the first-ever shoe made from recycled chewing gum. The project aims to reduce waste and litter in the Dutch capital.

Some 1.5 million kg of gum ends up on the city’s streets every year, costing the government millions of Euros to clean up or around 25 years to biodegrade if it’s not removed. “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 Mustafa Tanriverdi, head of marketing and investments for the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area.

The Gumshoe’s sole is made of recyclable compounds – known as Gum-Tec – which comprise 20% gum. The compounds are formed as granules and are then moulded into the sole of the shoe, which also features a map of the city. The project uses about 1 kg of gum for every four pairs of shoes.

“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. Anna has spent nearly a decade working on ways to turn discarded gum into something useful. “I was looking at all the different types of curbside litter that we have and trying to understand what’s been done with them in terms of recycling, and I couldn’t find anything on chewing gum at all,” she adds. “I could find loads of facts about how much it’s costing us and that all we do is endlessly clean communities up, and there was no real solution on the market.”

The collaborators are also considering allowing customers to recycle and replace the sole when needed for a small fee. They aim to expand the initiative to other major cities and also 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, black and red and will be on sale from June for €190.

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