Johnny Applesandal is eco-conscious footwear that allows the customer to participate in environmental cleansing through the dispersion of soil-cleaning plant seeds.
With the production of over 12 billion pairs of shoes a year, footwear creates millions of tons of waste material. This inefficiency in resources carries throughout the entire lifecycle of the product: from scrap material at the factory to used shoes in the dump. Johnny Apple Sandal not only works to prevent this gross waste of resources, but also takes proactive measures to reverse the effects of pollution.
The Johnny Applesandal allows the customer to buy into a cyclical system of conscientious consumption, proactive environmental cleansing, and material reclamation. Phytoremediating seeds are contained within the sandal. As the footwear is used, the soles wear thin exposing seed channels. This allows seeds to slowly escape. Phytoremediating plant species are known to contribute to the environment by breaking down toxic substances and naturally cleansing soil and water. Once the seeds have been sown, and the soles are worn out, the shoes are returned to the manufacturer for disassembly and material reclamation.
It sounds like a neat idea, but I have to wonder about a few things. First, does it actually work? If it takes a significant amount of wear to release the seeds then there’s always the chance that the seeds themselves would be crushed or damaged in the process rendering them useless. Second, what happens when we suddenly have a ton of plants sprouting up on sidewalks all over the urban landscape? If they end up just being razed because they’re cluttering up the environment then there’s not much point in depositing them there in the first place. Thirdly, there’s the concerns over invasive species. Without knowing exactly what the plants being spread are there could be a problem with folks buying these sandals and wearing them in environments where the plants would be disruptive if they were to take hold.
I’m not saying it’s a bad idea—at first glance it seems like a pretty cool one—but I don’t know how much thought was put behind the concept before it was undertaken. It doesn’t seem like this would be the most efficient method of distribution either. How many people walk through highly contaminated areas in sandals where the plants would do the most good? It just seems more like a feel-good gimmick to sell sandals then a good means of helping to clean up the planet, though I do like the idea of being able to send them back to the manufacturer for reclamation of parts when they’re worn out. I didn’t know it before reading up on these sandals, but apparently Nike has a Reuse-A-Shoe program as well. That seems like a better way of helping keep the planet clean in the long term.