Amsterdam Is Solving Its Gum Litter Problem by Making Shoes Out of Recycled Gum

Why waste it when you can wear it?

The Gumshoe features a map of Amsterdam. Gumshoe
Headshot of Angela Natividad

In any major city, gum litter is such a stock part of the landscape that it’s almost indistinguishable from brick, cobblestones or concrete.

In Amsterdam, 1.5 million kilograms of gum is left on the street yearly—it’s the second most common litter after cigarettes. Every year the government spends millions of euros to clean it … and worse, gum takes forever to biodegrade: around 25 years, give or take. In the meantime, animals consume it and often suffocate as a result.

So what do you do with the stuff?

Tearing a page out of the City of Berlin’s well-heeled (and practical!) playbook, city marketing organization I Amsterdam thought: Hey, sneakers!

I Amsterdam worked with Publicis One, fashion house Explicit and sustainable material manufacturers Gum-Tec to scrape the streets of the chewy fodder, then produce a new type of rubber.

The result? The Gumshoe, a sneaker touted to be the world’s first made of recycled chewing gum.

“Amsterdam Metropolitan Area wants to show people all the beauty the city has to offer. More rules and regulations to fight the chewing gum problem would only be contrary to their mission,” observed creative director Mischa Schreuder of Publicis One.

The Gumshoe isn’t an instant solution to the spending associated with getting gum off the streets, but Schreuder sees this as more of an awareness push before taking steps as a citizen collective.

“It’s all about experiencing the city at its best,” he continued. “That’s why we want to surprise and inspire Amsterdam locals with the Gumshoe. In addition to increasing awareness, this will also create sympathy and genuine motivation to solve the chewing gum problem together. This way, we will gain much more impact.”

The Gumshoe sneaker is most often seen in an appropriately bubblegum-pink iteration, though it doesn’t have to be that color. It also features a map of Amsterdam on its sole—the better to brand the places you go.

“We are committed every day to offer people a good recreation, living and working experience in the capital of the Netherlands,” said Amsterdam Metropolitan Area’s Mustafa Tanriverdi. “Our city has a lot to offer, especially when the streets are clean … With these sneakers, we make people part of the problem, or rather of the solution! In this way we have much more impact.”

The Gumshoes go on sale at the end of June at Hudson’s Bay Amsterdam. You can also find them online here.

Client: Amsterdam Metropolitan Area
Campaign: “Gumshoe”
Agency: Publicis One, Amsterdam (Leo Burnett, MSL, Publicis)
Creative Directors: Mischa Schreuder, Ramon Stalenhoef
Copywriter: Daniel Ashkol
Art Director: Jonathan van Loon
Designer/photographer: Dave Fransen
Director: Virgill Barron
Edit & Sound: Good Sounds
Post production: Post Office
Shoe designer: Garezi Septara & Shaquille Gunther
Shoe brand: Explicit Wear
Technology Lead: Gum-Tec, Anna Bullus
Account Director: Manon van Otegem

@luckthelady Angela Natividad is a frequent contributor to Adweek's creativity blog, AdFreak. She is also the author of Generation Creation and co-founder of Hurrah, an esports agency. She lives in Paris and when she isn't writing, she can be found picking food off your plate.