No other item of clothing has experienced such hype in recent decades – as a fashion accessory but also as a design object – as the sneaker. Due to the triumph of casual leisure wear, more and more sneakers have been produced. In Germany, it is said that more than 380 million pairs are produced annually, in the countries of the EU a proud 2.5 billion. What are the consequences of such obsessive shoe consumption for the environment? Can we trust the sustainability promises of manufacturers and recyclers? What exactly happens to the shoes that are discarded every year?
No one had yet put the matter to the test until the Sneakerjagd project, a joint research project by flip, NDR and Die Zeit, took up the cause. To generate media attention, not just any old shoes, but sneakers of celebrities like Jan Delay, Carolin Kebekus, Joy Denalane and others were equipped with a hidden GPS transmitter and returned to the manufacturer’s shops or via an old clothes box. Since many fashion labels and sneaker manufacturers claim to be green and promise that the old shoes will be turned into something useful and sustainable, the organisers of the sneaker hunt wanted to find out to what extent this is true – or whether the sneakers will end up being burned or on a landfill site in Africa. The website of Sneakerjagd documents which recycling chains the tracked sneakers have gone through. The sneaker hunters have also followed the most interesting routes and researched the circumstances of the shoes’ whereabouts. The results can be heard in six podcast episodes (in german) on NDR.
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