Former Sudburian creates biodegradable shoe

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Luc Houle, a Toronto-based designer who is originally from Greater Sudbury, started a Kickstarter campaign for biodegradable shoes in August and has raised more than $70,000.

He created ‘Jonny Footwear,‘ a company that makes biodegradable shoes that will eventually turn into apple trees once the shoe is planted.

Houle said it took about three years to research and develop the shoes.

“We figured if it’s going to be planted in the ground and if it’s going to decompose there anyway, so why don’t we put an apple seed in there and have it grow into a tree afterwards,” said Houle.

“Once I realized I was going to put seeds in the shoe I wanted to do a nod to John Chapman who is known as Jonny Appleseed. I figured it was just kind of fitting that if you’re going to plant your shoes in the ground hopefully I can have as big as an impact as Jonny Appleseed.”

Houle came up with the idea after working in the fashion industry for seven years.

“What I didn’t realize though until I got into the development side of things was that the majority of shoes are made of plastic and it’s hidden in an area we don’t think about. So, the outsole of the shoe which is the bottom of it is mostly made of plastic,” said Houle.

“So, when you compound all of those numbers that I’ve seen in sales into landfills we’re ending up with a really big problem. To the tune of tens of billions of pairs of years’ world wide.”

He said a regular shoe takes approximately 1,000 years to decompose, but Jimmy Footwear will only take three years once buried.

The shoes are currently on sale at ‘Kickstarter’ for $119.