Houle’s brand, Johnny Footwear, is named after Johnny Appleseed who introduced apple trees to many parts of North America. The shoes look like average canvas sneakers, but give back to nature after they’re worn. The Canadian designer has just launched a campaign on Kickstarter to get supporters for the project.
The Johnny shoe design is made from 100% biodegradable and Fair Trade certified materials. The shoes are well-cushioned to provide comfort, while also being lightweight and water-resistant.
Each shoe contains an apple seed in the natural rubber soles. Therefore, when the shoe is worn and torn, consumers can bury Johnny in the soil, where it will biodegrade and release the fertiliser-coated apple seed.
Currently, supporters can choose between two colourways on Kickstarter: black and white, both featuring red laces. Each pair will sell for $109 and will ship by next summer in recycled packaging if the campaign reaches its goal.
After spending seven years in the industry, and seeing first-hand the enormous waste caused by fashion, Houle came up with the idea for the project. One of the problems he noticed was the heavy use of plastic in the soles of cheap sneakers, which drives demand for fossil fuel materials and leaves behind permanent pollution in the environment.
“Plastic sticks around for about 1,000 years after we throw it away. I kind of wanted to do something to fix that,” he told local news site BlogTo.
“The nice thing about this project is that because it’s a biodegradable sneaker that grows into a tree, we can kind of help, number one, offset people’s carbon footprint, but we’re also helping eliminate plastics. And the more people we can reach with that the more of an impact we can have.”