Canadian Company Is Making Shoes That Grow Into Apple Trees

Luc Houle recently developed a pair of shoes that represent a sustainable choice. He created Johnny: The Shoe That Grows Into a Tree, along with a Kickstarter to make his product.

The Woman Post | Catalina Mejía Pizano

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Luc Houle, who is a designer in Canada, worked for seven years in the fast-fashion industry which focuses on rapidly producing high volumes of clothing, with low-quality materials, to bring cheap clothes to the public. Worried about the planetary boundaries, he recently developed a pair of shoes that represent a sustainable choice. He created Johnny: The Shoe That Grows Into a Tree, along with a Kickstarter to make his product.

Let's begin by mentioning that sneaker production is extremely carbon-intensive, and it accounts for 1.4% of the global greenhouse emissions. A study by MIT from the year 2013, revealed that a typical pair of running shoes generates almost 13.6 kilograms of CO2 emissions. Almost all sneakers are made predominantly from plastic or plastic-like materials such as polyester, thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), and ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) which produce vast numbers of carbon dioxide. Although plastic makes sneakers endure more than a regular pair of shoes, Houle is showing the industry that it is possible to find alternatives!

"I was working for a fashion company and I would just see us pump out tons and tons of shoes and a lot of those just ended up in landfills," said Houle in a recent interview with Global News. "So I was thinking to myself, what can we do to improve this? And, you know, make a little bit more of an impact on the environment that we’re not making right now" The shoes look just like a normal canvas sneaker, but what is the big difference?  They are made out of biodegradable materials and have a hidden apple seed in the sole. It is also worth mentioning that the shoes are water-resistant, lightweight, and cushiony. 


"Plastic is such a huge problem right now," said Houle. "It’s invading our landfills, it’s flooding our oceans. To me, it’s really important that even though as consumers, like, individually, we’re doing our part and trying as hard as we can, that the industry needs to change too."

You might be wondering why did Houle choose the name Johnny for his shoes. After three years of developing the technology and a prototype, he came up with Johnny, honoring Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman) who brought apple tres to Ontario and many other U.S. states in the first decade of the 19th century. But will the shoes biodegrade when you are wearing them? According to their creator, the shoes won’t biodegrade unless they are buried, because the sole of the shoe remains dormant until they are placed underground. Once planted, they attract microbes to break down the sole within three years. In the middle of the process, an apple seed with a coating of natural fertilizer is released. Their midsoles are also designed to biodegrade in 3 years rather than the typical 1,000 so they won’t crowd up landfills or pollute the oceans.

During the creation process, Houle had help from a Canadian friend in China who works with ethical factories to make the shoes. The materials used are also fair trade. Johnny footwear shoes are available in two colors, black and white, and are priced at 109$ on Kickstarter. For buyers, they will arrive in August 2022. So if you are willing to become a more conscious consumer and bet on sustainability why not try these shoes?

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