In the Amazon, slipping on your shoes is as simple as painting a thin layer of latex on your feet. Rubber, at least in its original form, is derived from tree sap as opposed to today’s synthetic version from petrochemicals. In a way, indigenous people in the Amazon pioneered this ready-to-wear technology as the original tires for human mobility.
Now a Spanish company called OneMoment is bringing that ancient, cutting-edge technology to the rest of us. Their completely biodegradable shoe—measuring only 2 millimeters thick on the sole, and just 1 millimeters around the foot (that’s about three millimeters less than traditional shoes)—is created by injecting natural bioplymers, similar to latex, into a mold. The elastic, biodegradable material molds to your foot, and rolls up for easy storage. To clean them, you can just rinse them or wash them in the washing machine. Once they’ve lived out their natural life, you can compost them by shredding and tossing them into the compost bin.
The people who use the shoe vary widely, says Felipe Izquierdo of OneMoment by email: "Long haul travelers, back-packers in New Zealand forest, discotheque fashion lovers in the UK, mothers taking their kids to swimming lessons, hunters, scuba divers. It’s a long list." They’re currently available in 35 countries around the world, and expanding quickly.
"The idea came from the necessity to protect our feet quickly, cheaply, and in an environmentally friendly manner," says Izquierdo. The Amazon natives who inspired the shoes just covered the soles of their feet with Hevea resin, but OneMoment uses internationally certified biopolymers: "Biodegradable does not mean soft or non-rugged materials," he says. "What’s more biodegradable than a tree?"