Lonely Planet Writer

Is a shoe made from chewing gum Amsterdam’s ultimate sustainable souvenir?

Even in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, there’s an ugly problem: chewing gum. Every year, around 1.5 million kilos of gum makes its way onto the streets of the Netherlands, making it the second most common type of litter after cigarettes. Cleaning it up comes at a huge cost to the Amsterdam municipality, and with gum taking around 20- 25 years to biodegrade, the long-term environmental impact is also an issue.    

The Gumshoe. Image by Designboom

That’s where the Gumshoe comes in: a shoe made from recycled chewing gum found on the streets of Amsterdam. City marketing I amsterdam have teamed up with designer Explicit Wear, and innovative gum recycling company Gumdrop Ltd to create this new piece of footwear. Gumdrop Ltd is the first company in the world to recycle and process chewing gum, transforming it into a new compound that can be used in rubber products – like the soles of the Gumshoe which are made from 20% gum.  

We discovered gum is made from a synthetic rubber and by breaking down these properties we were able to create a new type of rubber,” Anna Bullus, designer at Gum-tec®, said. The Gumshoe offers a novel and sustainable way to take a piece of the city home with you, and even features a map of Amsterdam on the sole. By buying these shoes instead of your average souvenir, you go home with something you’ll wear time and time again and help raise awareness around the gum issue faced by many cities.

Fashionable and sustainable. Image by Designboom

With these shoes, we take a step closer to gum free streets and at the same time create awareness amongst gum users without being preachy,” adds Mustafa Tanriverdi, Marketing and Investments, Amsterdam Metropolitan Area Haarlemmermeer. The shoes will be available online from Explicit Wear and at Hudson’s Bay Department Store, Amsterdam from June 2018.

Words: Claire Bissell