(chill music) – [Narrator] You can
tell a lot about a person based on their shoes. And today, there’s a ton of options. In 2018, footwear was a
$250 billion industry. With over 24 million
shoes produced globally. Just look at Kanye. His shoe and apparel line
is valued at $1 billion. The problem is, lots of shoes, especially sneakers, aren’t made to last. They’re made of plastic
and we can’t recycle them. So a lot of ’em end up as trash. So the question, can
sneakers become sustainable? (birds calling) The average American, in 2018,
bought seven pairs of shoes. But let’s focus on the sneaker, which wasn’t always so popular. Here’s where it started. It’s the late 1870s.
(peppy music) Lawn tennis becomes popular, which allows men and women to
compete against each other. Or tennis and chill. That game also created a
new must-have item, these. (upbeat music) Sports became really popular. Basketball, Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey, golf. And by 1919, almost 20
million pairs of tennis shoes were being produced in the US. Brands like Keds, Converse, and PF Flyers launched the very beginning
of the sneaker market. (engine rumbling) This is Pensole Footwear Design Academy. And this is D’Wayne Edwards, its founder. – Shoes are very complicated. – [Narrator] Also one of the
first black footwear designers. His resume includes LA Gear,
Sketchers, Nike, and Jordan. (choir singing) – So plastics made their way onto sneakers in a few key areas. – [Narrator] First, in
the outsole for support. And then in the heel
counter for structure. In the 1970s jogging
becomes super popular. Companies introduce polyurethane
foam into the midsole. Which makes jogging more… – Uh, comfortable. – [Narrator] But they don’t stop there. They start to focus on the athletes. – The goal was, if you can
make their footwear lighter, then you can make the athlete faster. – [Narrator] Molded EVA replaces polyurethane in the midsole, which… – Immediately cut the
weight down in half almost. (peppy music) – [Narrator] And almost
simultaneously synthetic leather is introduced into the
upper, which impacts the fit, weight, and maybe
more importantly, the design. (upbeat music) – My name is Nicoline van Enter. I am the founder and creative
director of the Footwearists. – [Narrator] Nicoline
is a footwear forecaster and shoe designer. Her job is to see trends
before they even happen. – Everybody could imagine
classic sneakers, for instance, that you collect from the
late 80s or early 90s, often now when you open the box
the sole just crumbles away. – [Man] Hey what’s up everyone? Check it out. Midsole. You can see is just flaking off there. – That’s essentially
what happens to plastics. And that’s also why it’s difficult to have a plastic shoe, recycle
it into another plastic shoe. – [Narrator] So right
now shoes are essentially a hodgepodge of materials,
which means when you wanna recycle an old shoe your options are donating it, grinding
it, or throwing it away. And that’s a pretty short lifecycle. But, the future, it’s
actually really exciting. As consumers, there are more sustainable options than ever before. The World Footwear 2030 report
predicts that sustainability will drive innovation in
the footwear industry. And it’s already happening. Big brands are experimenting
with things like biofabrication, like using mushrooms to grow the materials for their shoes. And 3D printing, which
significantly reduces waste during the manufacturing process. One example of this is the
Adidas Futurecraft.Loop. Here’s how it works. – If you have a shoe of only one material you can grind that up,
take it back to pellets, melt that again, and turn it back into the same TPU that the shoe was made of. – [Narrator] But
companies still don’t know how many times that
process can be repeated. Another consideration,
can a sustainable shoe still appeal to sneaker culture? – Sustainability, right now, does not have a design language. You can hold up a sustainable material and a non-sustainable material
in the form of a synthetic, a textile, a leather, a plastic, a foam, and not be able to tell a difference. That’s a problem. If you want consumers to
truly embrace sustainability you have to win the aesthetic game. And the aesthetic game is
allowing sustainability to have its own natural aesthetic. – [Narrator] So back to the question, can sneakers become sustainable? It’s going to come down
to how much companies are willing to invest,
what consumers want. And if technology can drive the change that will give us a material that’s, well, better than plastic. (chill music)

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Dennis Veasley

100 thoughts on “Your Sneakers Are Part of the Plastic Problem | National Geographic”

  1. Most people are going insane because of plastic that's literally in everything we consume it's similar how the Romans went loopy because there irrigation systems were led made

  2. More questions than answers in this video. Only one minute is about finding solutions to the trash and recycling problem. We are getting mere hints. I expect more.

  3. You hear that guys, we are the problem, not the rich people who do this, not the goverment, us! For buying shoes

  4. just teach the idiot plastic industries how to use hemp plastics and the problem is done……….. this stupid blabla doesn't change anything

  5. You didnt even mention that some companies are using algae from algal blooms to make shoes and clean water…there are lots of options better than just recycling plastic shoes….or even to buy second hand shoes…

  6. Imagine how expensive they're gonna be then…oh jeez…they're over the top now, probably gonna cost $1000.00 for a bottom brand of sustainable sneakers…oh boy, better start saving now for 2030 people..just imagining..

  7. You missed out on how much is it gonna cost to an average customer. Going green for all the marketing and genuine reasons can be costly.

  8. Tell the globalists to get rid of their shoes first. The corporations and the banks make all the environmental problems and blame the public

  9. Of course people are going to freak out and say “hay, we need to put laws in affect to force manufacturers to do it right because it will never happen otherwise.” But notice how in the video they said manufacturers have taken it upon themselves to create a more sustainable shoe. The free market will eventually make everything more environmentally friendly without the need for government to come in and mess everything up.

  10. MAKE BETTER QUALITY SHOES and CLOTHES! It's NOT the consumers' fault that most things are made to last just one season in effort to drive up sales!

  11. May be just don’t buy what you don’t “need”. Unfortunately It’s easier to bring materials into your life than stuff into brain.

  12. Plastic would be fine if it was reusable, recyclable plastic. Manufacture the plastic once then it stays in the economy forever. Endlessly creating and discarding plastic is the problem.

  13. Pharmaceutical companies are a major part if the plastic problem. They are throwing away plastic tube bottles after one day (24hrs) Those can be used at 48 minimum. Plastic wraps used for single pills… I could go on and on.

  14. Well…. I either use havaianas or sturdy leather boots… and non pirate sneakers are expensive here in my city so…

  15. Face it: we need shoes.

    Unless we can mass produce leather shoes just like our ancestor did. But someone will protest again… 🙄🙄🙄

  16. Time to walk more barefoot, I think. Oh, yeah. I see the problem. "Wild *dirty streets, *ugly old ladys feet, *diseases, *dumb comments from strangers, *foot fetishists and *restaurants appear…"

  17. Since the majority of shoes are a mixture of different materials, they are difficult to recycle and most end up in landfills. To learn more, you can read on here: https://on.natgeo.com/31qV9eU

  18. I’m totally agree to make sustainable shoes but, if discovering new sustainable shoes by replacing a common resource like plastic with another scarce resource (like something with mushrooms he said?) it’s neither a viable way as i see it…

  19. I buy one pair of shoes every 3 years. How people can use up 7 pairs in one year I am not sure. They must do much walking.

  20. National Geographic has 2,000 employees which they fly all around the World, constantly. YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT IS MASSIVE!!! I'll keep my shoes, you stop polluting the planet for money Nat Geo hypocrites. EAD and GFY

  21. I've been wearing the same hiking boots (rubber soles) for over 15 years (and have not bought or otherwise acquired any other shoes in over 15 years). Learn how to walk without dragging your feet; your soles (and souls) will last longer.

    People always forget that it takes lots of energy and water to recycle stuff–energy that mostly comes from fossil fuel sources (in the U.S., over 80% of energy comes from fossil fuels; it's worse in many, many other countries such as China where the products are likely being made, anyway). Indeed, in most cases it takes as much or more energy to recycle a product than it did to make the original. Recycling still contributes a lot to climate change. The three Rs are ordered "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" on purpose. People should first be reducing consumption, then reusing stuff as much as possible. Recycling is your last option, but it's not actually sustainable. Plastics will never be sustainable.

  22. STOP MAKING EARTH SAVING MATERIALS SO EXPENSIVE. IF YOU WANT TO BE THE CHANGE, MAKE IT SO EVERYONE CAN AFFORD IT! ITS THE CHEAP SNEAKERS THAT ARE THE WORST OFFENDERS BECAUSE THEY DONT LAST AS LONG.

  23. the Shoes that appear in the boxing ring.i love it.When dancing foot..please show us your design in different brand shoes boxing.

  24. Options for who? Many people rely on whatever someone else doesn't want …thrift stores. So one person has twenty good shoes and another has one pair of used shoes. Fashion & large-scale design are driven by those with money. I wait, expectantly, for a donated pair of shoes made with sustainable material & good for the 🌲🌲🌲🐝🐝🐝!!🍻

  25. Grind them up and mix the residue into asphalt. Use the asphalt to pave roads, or to pave bicycle paths if you prefer. In case you were concerned, mixing correctly processed plastic waste into asphalt makes the asphalt better in every way. If you disagree, then you're just being difficult and are not actually seeking efficient solutions to such issues.

  26. Save your lectures for the Chinese and Indians. They are by far the biggest polluters on the planet. When they get down to our levels then you can lecture us.

  27. This is such a clever video! Well done! 👍 thanks for bringing this to our attention. We don’t often think of this, but it’s important to consider when selecting a pair of shoes and how friendly they’re to the environment.

  28. There are sneakers that can last up till 20 years if I am not mistaken, like my dad bought New Balance ages ago and they still lasted, the other problem is people own too many shoes and keep buying new ones. If we reduce our buying habits then there wouldn't be so much waste. I think that is another area to think about.

  29. Only solution is reduce population to NWO agenda by 70% problem solved,how many times did this guy say sustainable?Probably paid ad by George Soros

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