There are many routes one can take to reduce his or her carbon footprint, but what’s more symbolic and literal than walking the path of carbon footprint reduction than with a shoe, and one that is both biodegradable and sprouts wildflowers at its own funeral? That’s right – there’s a shoe company that makes a shoe that when its useful life is spent you can bury it, and embedded in the tongue of the shoe are wildflower seeds that start growing within a few days after last rites. How cool is that? Would that we could participate in the renewal of life with every product that we dispose of, wouldn’t that be great! OAT Shoes founded in 2008 and based in the Netherlands makes their shoes from a combination of hemp, cotton, and plastic that biodegrades when buried in regular garden soil within a total of 6 months. There’s only one small problem – they’re not available in the United States yet (only the Netherlands and Belgium), but with a demand for such, who says they won’t make their way soon to our shores?
Maybe you’d also like to tread lightly upon Mother Earth and reduce your carbon “tread print”. There’s an app (or a bike rather) for that, too. Israeli inventor, Izhar Gafni, has created a real-life cardboard bike that is set to be priced very affordably at $20. See, who said you can’t go green and save money, too? The most amazing thing about this story is that engineers told Izhar that building a bike made from cardboard couldn’t be done. But just like the bumble bee who didn’t believe its wings were too small to support its body mass, Izhar thought he’d go ahead and try anyway. And good that he did because he found the weak points of the cardboard and was able to fold the cardboard just the right way (he compared it to being similar to origami, in that folding it once didn’t double the strength, but instead nearly tripled it) to make it strong and robust. Now you might be concerned that this cardboard bike would get soggy and warped from the rain, but you’d be wrong. Izhar submerged the cardboard in water for months at a time to test it, and it passed that test with flying colors. He used organic materials to make it both waterproof and fireproof.
The best parts about these two sustainable products – the shoe and the bike? Certainly it’s wonderful that they are both eco-friendly, but also because they are quite symbolic of reducing one’s carbon “footprint”. If they can just catch on and get a little bit of momentum they just might reach critical mass and make a bigger impact on the green movement. Because all it takes is for the “A-ha!” moment to spread to other inventors to make things that are a win-win for consumers, something that fills a need and helps the environment as well as being very affordable at the same time. And what’s more, it makes for a great story – making a bike from cardboard when it’s supposed to be impossible is much better than the underdog winning the Super Bowl!