If The Shoe Fits - Design Bureau

A3 Lefsole copy

If The Shoe Fits

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Image courtesy of This Is Rubbish

Text by Amanda Koellner 

“We need to consume less. A lot less. Yet every decade, global consumption continues to increase relentlessly.” These are the words of Stephen Emmott, the author of Ten Billion, whose book predicts what Earth will look like when its population reaches that very number. The words also define the mission of This is Rubbish, a fashionable awareness project by three university students from the UK, who have dressed their website in Emmott’s words.

It was because of those words that the trio of Charles Duffy (who brought the technical input), William Gubbins (who offered experience with plastics), and Billy Turvey (who cut the film on the process) handpicked trash from the Thames, the English Channel, and the Atlantic Ocean, drove a hatchback full of rubbish back to London, and then filtered, cleaned, melted, and molded select pieces into brightly colored footwear.

“Our aim in this project wasn’t to manufacture consumer-recycled goods,” Duffy says. “We just wanted to raise awareness of the issues; it was the documentation of the process that, in the end, gained the attention of the people, and we hope that message followed through.”

The message certainly seems to have been heard. Charities and footwear companies (as well as an oil-rigging contracting company) have all reached out to the This is Rubbish guys regarding their own environmental awareness campaigns, leaving Duffy, Gubbins, and Turvey “truly humbled” by the fact that their efforts have extended “as far as the industrial giants that facilitate the problem.”

Still, the team remains wary  of humanity’s mass overconsumption. “Plastic is ubiquitous, and many types will still be breaking down by the time our bodies have long decomposed,” Duffy says. “That’s pretty scary, since we’re letting millions of tons of plastic slip into the ocean every year.”

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