This Shoe Is Rubbish

Charles Duffy, William Gubbins, and Billy Turvy, all second-year design students, collected plastic trash from beaches around England, melted it down, and molded the material into a sneaker that looks like something out of a beautiful kindergarten finger painting party.

Here are some fun facts for your Friday. There are over 165 million tons of plastic in the world's oceans. Eight million pieces of plastic enter the ocean every day. Animals from at least 267 different species have died due to eating or getting tangled up in oceanic plastic waste.

All these numbers are rough estimates. No recent comprehensive attempts have been made to measure the full scale of the problem, because the problem is basically immeasurable. So, how do you express something unquantifiable to the public? Three students from Goldsmiths, University of London offered a solution this week, in the form of a shoe.

Charles Duffy, William Gubbins, and Billy Turvy, all second-year design students, collected plastic trash from beaches around England, melted it down, and molded the material into a sneaker that looks like something out of a beautiful kindergarten finger painting party. You can watch the step-by-step process below.


The end product forms the foundation of the trio's campaign, "Everything You Buy Is Rubbish." They designed posters around the shoe, with a blurred out Nike logo, mocking the advertisements for products that will inevitably spend a tiny fraction of their life in consumer's closets and centuries more slowly decomposing.

As Gubbins put it: "We want people to see this and say, 'Oh shit, these shoes were made out of rubbish.'"

The campaign's sarcasm and sense of fatality echoes Gubbins's ominous short film, The Plastic Idea, which harshly splices ugly displays of waste pollution with an early black-and-white infomercial introducing plastic to the world.


All three students seemed dejected about the public's general apathy toward plastic waste.

"It's all lumped into one big problem of climate change," Turvy said. "Oh, we'll just leave it to the scientists to sort out, or to the hippies to protest."

Turvy, Gubbins, and Duffy are aware of the project's limits. They refused to offer ideas for how to reduce global plastic waste, saying the problem is too large to even propose any broad solution.

"Even if we reached a million people, it still doesn't make much difference at all," Gubbins said. "There's not one big solution. Just lots of little steps."


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