These Baby Shoes can be Dissolved in Water When Outgrown

Making smaller footprints.

Aug 1, 2022
These Baby Shoes can be Dissolved in Water When Outgrown | Making smaller footprints.

Baby shoes are the cutest ever. From little sneakers to adorable Mary Janes, there is something for every well-dressed baby on the go. Who can resist buying shoes for little ones, even if they don’t stay little for long?

Babies and toddlers are constantly outgrowing shoes and that creates a lot of waste. Now, an environmentally friendly Oregon startup, Woolybubs, has come up with a baby shoe that doesn’t get thrown away when outgrown; it gets dissolved instead. The company has a mission to prioritize the planet and leave a smaller footprint.

Woolybubs’ unique mission
Woolybubs was created by Megan and Jesse Milliken who are the parents of three young children, according to the company’s website. They saw firsthand how much waste a family creates that cannot be recycled. Sure, clothing and shoes could be handed down to younger children but there comes a time when it ends up in a landfill.

Jesse Milliken was a shoe designer at Nike, but in the fall of 2020, when wildfires burned across the state, he and his wife Megan started talking about changing their lives and doing something to help the planet, according to Fast Company.

“We [the family] were driving back over Mount Hood in the thickest of smoke, in the scariest conditions we’ve ever been in,” Milliken told Fast Company. “And we both just kind of looked at each other in that moment, and looked back at our kids, and felt like something has got to change.”

Milliken left Nike to focus on sustainability starting with one of the most wasteful segments of the baby apparel market, shoes. Now, instead of throwing outgrown shoes in the garbage can, you can dissolve them in water instead.

The newbie shoe collection comes in sizes 0-12 and is available in four colors. The website launched in the spring of 2022.

The disappearing shoes
The newbie shoes actually resemble moccasins and are made of 100 percent silk fabric that is coated with a water-soluble form of plastic called polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) that is used in a lot of other products.

The shoes are made to be durable and will last long enough to be handed down to a second child. “It took us almost a year to develop this fabric that was durable enough,” Milliken said. “It’s kind of ironic to use the word durable for babies, but durable enough to last and stand up to baby wear and tear, and then ultimately still break down and degrade in the right conditions.”

The baby shoes won’t melt if a baby chews on them, if you hand wash, or if you get caught in the rain; they only break down if it is boiled for 40 minutes or sent to an industrial composting facility, according to Input Magazine.

The liquid that remains after boiling is safe enough to be poured down the drain. You can also compost the shoes but it will take some time for them to break down that way. Critics say that the plastic coating, which are like detergent pods, will not break-down in a typical wastewater treatment plant.

Woolybubs also has toddler shoes that are made from recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET). When these shoes wear out, they can be sent back to the company to be taken apart and recycled. It’s not as dramatic as boiling away but it is still earth-friendly.

The company plans to continue searching for new ways to make its products even more sustainable. “We are always looking for innovative solutions to improve the environmental impact to the planet,” Milliken told Fast Company. Who knows what creative idea they will think of next?

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.