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Cotton and corn! Reebok’s newest sneaker is ‘made from things that grow’

Reebok | Cotton + Corn | Made From Things That Grow

We already have shoes made out of trash from Adidas, so why not footwear made out of corn from Reebok?

The global footwear and apparel firm this week launched its first shoe that’s “made from things that grow.” The stylish-looking sustainable sneaker features a woven upper made entirely from organic cotton, a base originating from industrial-grown corn, and an insole made using castor bean oil. No dyes have been used to color the shoes, either, and the packaging is 100-percent recyclable.

The Reebok Future team, which created the shoe, is tasked with finding ways to use plants rather than oil-based materials to make the company’s footwear “so that you can feel good about what you’re wearing and where it came from.”

To make the corn-based material, the company teamed up with DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products, a leading manufacturer of high-performance bio-based solutions. For Reebok’s shoe it developed Susterra propanediol, described as “a pure, petroleum-free, non-toxic, 100-percent USDA-certified bio-based product, derived from field corn.”

“We like to say we are ‘growing shoes’ here at Reebok,” Bill McInnis, head of Reebok Future, said last year when the company announced its plan for the unique footwear, adding, “This is really just the first step for us.”


McInnis said that with Reebok’s new sustainable shoe, his team was focused on all three phases of the product lifecycle.

“First, with product development we’re using materials that grow and can be replenished, rather than the petroleum-based materials commonly used today.  Second, when the product hits the market we know our consumers don’t want to sacrifice on how sneakers look and perform. Finally, we care about what happens to the shoes when people are done with them. So we’ve focused on plant-based materials such as corn and cotton at the beginning, and compostability in the end.”

For its own sustainable sportswear effort, Adidas teamed up with conservation group Parley for the Oceans to create shoes made from recycled plastic pulled from the sea. A typical pair of Parley running shoes reuses around 11 plastic bottles to create the laces, heel webbing, heel lining, and sock liner covers. Footwear firm Allbirds has also been making a name for itself with a range of shoes made from a specially crafted wool fabric.

As for Reebok, McInnes says the goal is to create a wide selection of bio-based footwear that can be composted after use. “We’ll then use that compost as part of the soil to grow the materials for the next range of shoes. We want to take the entire cycle into account; to go from dust to dust.”

Reebok’s cotton and corn shoes are available online and come with a $95 price tag.

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