Meet The Sustainable Sneaker That Grows An Apple Tree

3 Mins Read

Sustainable sneakers have never been more stylish, but one Canadian designer wants to take it up a notch. Based in Toronto, Luc Houle has created a new shoe that is not only biodegradable, but can grow into an apple tree in its afterlife. 

Named after Johnny Appleseed who introduced apple trees to many parts of North America, Houle’s brand, Johnny Footwear, makes shoes that look like your average pair but gives back to nature after it’s worn. The Canadian designer has just launched a campaign on Kickstarter to get supporters for the project. 

From sustainable sneaker to apple tree

Johnny is made from 100% biodegradable and Fair Trade certified materials. The shoes are well-cushioned to provide comfort, and also boast lightweight and water-resistant qualities. 

Each shoe, which looks like normal canvas sneakers, contains an apple seed in the natural rubber soles. When the shoe is worn and torn, people can bury Johnny in the soil, where it will biodegrade and release the fertiliser-coated apple seed. 

On Kickstarter, supporters can choose between two colourways: 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.

Read: We’re loving these 5 upcycled sneakers made from waste

Tackling plastic pollution while planting trees

Houle dreamed up the idea for the project after seeing first-hand the enormous waste caused by fashion, after spending seven years in the industry. 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 “forever” 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.”

All images courtesy of Luc Houle / Johnny Footwear.


  • Sally Ho

    Sally Ho is Green Queen's former resident writer and lead reporter. Passionate about the environment, social issues and health, she is always looking into the latest climate stories in Hong Kong and beyond. A long-time vegan, she also hopes to promote healthy and plant-based lifestyle choices in Asia. Sally has a background in Politics and International Relations from her studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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