Today’s news. Cole Haan’s New Sneakers Inventions
After December 1941, Japan bombed the U.S. and pulled us into World War II.
In the weeks that followed, Americans were told to get ready: they were told to give up something important like rubber.
In times of war, the U.S. was cut off from 90% of the world’s rubber supply, which came from rubber trees in Southeast Asia and caused a rubber shortage.
So things like work boots, tires, and other basic commodities became highly monitored
A popular trend is to extract latex from the milky liquid inside a dandelion.
It’s pretty weird, I know, but if you look back at news coverage from that month you’ll notice an excitement about this new idea.
The New York Times declared “Dandelions could be the answer to our current rubber shortage, according to the Farm Research Council. The plant at Kok-Sagyz in Russia would help us make up for what we’re missing.”
Dandelions leftover from farming in the United States were used for rubber.
By 1943, they were planted across 48 states and in 1944, we successfully made tires out of them.
But then World War I ended and the supply of rubber was restored.
This meant that there was never a reason for people to be actively looking for alternatives, and so the use of dandelion rubber never became widespread.
Eighty years ago, the dandelion was dismissed as a weed and used only for root beer.
Now it seems that it has found new life in the form of rubber.
The concept has been percolating in laboratories for years,
But it’s just now making a debut in a new casual shoe from Cole Haan called their Thunder Ridge Athletic range.
Cole Haan sneakers has taken the common weed dandelion and converted it into a high-quality, bouncy rubber.
This means that 25% of their shoes are made up of this material and will make them the best ‘springy’ sneaker around.
“The extraction process is not too different from rubber,” says David Maddocks,
The brand president of Cole Haan. “Make sure you are tapping a rubber tree-like syrup when you use rubber.”
Some people harvest trees for resin, but that is not the only way to get latex.
There is a heat process that extracts them from the plant, and what’s left is biowaste- old plants.
It’s worth noting that a lot of the rubber you see in shoes these days is synthetic, but it can’t hurt to acknowledge that there is still natural rubber, sourced from trees, being used.
You’ll find that many major players mention this in their environmental reports.
To make rubber, you need rubber trees, which means being mindful of disease.
Rubber trees take up a lot of land and rubber plantations have been responsible for deforestation. From 2000 to 2016, land dedicated to rubber cultivation doubled, to 12.9 million hectares.
The shoe industry has been making huge changes to be more sustainable.
They’re reducing their ecological footprint by going through every material and looking for ways to lower their carbon emissions/impact.
Nike and Adidas have both developed a way to recycle their old shoes,
By grinding them up and turning them into new products.
Adidas has dubbed the process “Loop” and Nike is calling the rubbery material they need “Grind”
Cole Haan’s sustainability programs are not yet mature enough to support circular supply chains.
That said, they have started to use recycled tires from dandelions in their supply chain.
“Dandelions are considered a renewable resource that grows very fast.,” Maddocks says.
Pine trees are often planted using this method and do not require much room for growth.
This makes them more environmentally friendly since you don’t have to cut down as many trees.
By using dandelion rubber, the company is able to decrease the use of EVA polymer.
Depending on Cole Haan’s needs for its new flower foam midsole,
It can incorporate different amounts of formic acid into the EVA polymer.
Generation Zerogrand II’s FlowerFoam contains 25% dandelion content but is being rounded down for marketing purposes.
Cole Haan pledges to use sustainable materials.
They are now 25% made up of natural or recycled content.
Maddocks says. The rule is if you’re going over a certain level of understanding and are easy to understand then that’s great.
We want an approach for consumers that are understandable as well.
If they see ‘sustainable’ on a product label and it means something scientifically verifiable to them, then that’s fine.