Your Sneakers Are Part of the Plastic Problem | National Geographic

Your Sneakers Are Part of the Plastic Problem | National Geographic

(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)

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

  1. 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:

  2. 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

  3. Yea its OUR sneakers our water bottles. Its our fault people not the big guys with the money noooo not them anyone but them

  4. What D'Wayne is saying about sustainability having an aesthetic is basically sustainability needing to become a trend in order to speak to people and I think thats kind of sad as you don't break the loop of fast fashion there :/

  5. It's funny how we started to create plastics and helped us in making different things, and now, it becomes a worldwide problem. We, Humans, create our own problems without considering first what may be the solutions.

  6. This video was so useless, I've seen YouTubers make better videos than National Geographic at this point. No solutions discussed at all, just the problem.

  7. Why in every statistics average American expenditure /contribution towards creating more waste is higher than average people in rest of the countries🙄

  8. I see his point with giving sustainability its own design aesthetic but that can also be its own problem. How many people think the Prius looks cool? What if we moved towards making all manufacturing sustainable and not worrying about giving it its own cool look that’s different from everything else. Sustainability should not be a niche product.

  9. I have 3 pairs of shoes runners, flip flops, and high heel boots it’s about all I need and yes once my feet stop growing I will buy some nice quality boots that will last years, my 25 dollar shoes have lasted 2 years so far and yes they are wearing down a bit but they will last another year, no need to buy tons of fancy shoes 😀

  10. Dont blame people who buyed lot of sneakers,blame those sneakers company who make millions of sneakers every day or every year.

    If all companies startted to use sustaible products yet in affortable prices.Then,people force or use to buy it cos there are no options.

    But i think china cant do that.

    So again,

    We are part of the problem 😌sadly

  11. 0:17 perfect edit of Kanye smiling and then being salty when he hears Yeezy is worth 1 billion dollars hahaha 😂

  12. They may be wanting to make more sustainable shoes but they’re not even thinking of sustainable shoes with support based on pronation

  13. I wore my moms old converse from the 90's for 5 years, and they only broke when i got a job as a baker and and was squatting down to lift trays all day which made the soles come apart and i replaced them with the same model. Then i got my first pair of "real" sneakers because they were cute, some nike which i liked a lot but they were falling apart within a year, got another pair of nikes and they fell apart within 6 months, then got a pair of pumas on which the toe gluing came apart after just 4 months. In defense of these companies i do wear my sneakers every single day and walk a looot, but it's crazy to see how fast these fashion sneakers fall apart. And all the decent shoes are super uncomfortable or plain ugly. I wish one of these big companies would step up soon to make shoes that last or shoes that can be replaced without harming the environment. I hope even more that there's soon gonna be some laws made about selling un-recyclable products.

  14. I enjoy wearing sneakers and when I buy a pair I usually never throw it away maybe if I grow out of them but I can fix them up donate them to people who need them I like collecting sneakers as a hobby cause I find it enjoyable because the culture interest me.

  15. What? 7 pairs a year? I buy like 1 pair and it lasts for 3 to 4 years. I have a pair of nike dunks i still use after 10 years

  16. Make an episode about other athletic wear please. Sports bras and running shorts and jerseys all use polyester and leak microplastics into the water with each wash.

  17. It’s also overconsumption (no one needs 7 pairs of shoes a year!) and overproduction. Things like clothing, shoes, books and furniture should made to order and built to last.

  18. Not surprised. Also our clothes generates more waste as well especially the dye in them. Its disgusting how impractical fashion has become

  19. This is such a dope video. Thanks for doing this, Nat Geo. Does anyone know who shot/edited this????? I love this style!

  20. So to be lower plastic we have to buy old fashioned formal shoes or like hippie sandals. I guess I can handle the change, but it's sad.

  21. I will use the 7 pairs that I have until they can't be used anymore.. but Adidas should stop advertising and making plastic shoes to begin with

  22. National Geographic has many decades of articles and videos taken from people all over the world, travelling to distant lands, visiting exotic places. I think they all wear shoes. Especially hiking and climbing shoes and sneakers.

  23. I have only two pair of sneakers one for the gym and one for everyday which is from VEJA a sustainable brand. they're fashionable, pretty, comfortable and sustainable <3 I love them 😀

  24. my sneakers are NOT part of the plastic problem. I only have one pair (made out of leather, except for the sole) and I wear them till they fall apart. Then I donate them. I'm tired of everything being the consumer's fault. Not everyone owns 50 pairs of sneakers.

  25. I’ll start listening to Nat Geo lectures on what I can improve when they stop using cameras and video equipment that uses plastic, slip covers for the magazines made of questionable materials and a magazine that’s 100% biodegradable! Oh AND stop flying or driving anywhere.

  26. Well… one thing that keeps growing until the day we die is our feet size. I’m almost 60 and wear a 7 but 10 years ago I wore a 6. BUT, I don’t throw any decent shoes away that are too tight. I always clean them up and donate them. Hopefully others can use them.

  27. My favorite pair of sneakers were my mom’s from 10 years ago, and they’re the best quality I’ve ever tried. Focusing on quality over quantity both in manufacturing and in our practices of consumerism could be a great step towards decreasing waste, before proper biodegradable shoes can be made.

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