A New York-based design company is turning used footwear into home goods and furniture, providing a sustainable solution to the millions of shoes that wind up in landfills each year.

Particle, a furniture and homeware company in Brooklyn, showcased its sustainable creations at NYC x Design Week 2023 and received instant praise. The company makes items like coasters, placemats, and stools out of used footwear and is the brainchild of Amanda Rawlings and Krissy Harbert.

Together, Harbert and Rawlings bring their complementary backgrounds of design architecture and creative design to the playful and inspired brand that is Particle.

Particle is doing its part to fight the tremendous amount of waste created by the fashion industry — particularly the shoe sector. Every year, an estimated 300 million pairs of shoes are thrown out in the United States. That’s not only tremendously wasteful, but it’s also bad for the environment. Just one pair of shoes takes roughly 30 to 40 years to decompose.

However, there are some toxic elements of shoes that are not biodegradable and wind up making their way into our water sources.

Particle focuses specifically on repurposing ethylene-vinyl acetate waste, which is found in many natural and synthetic rubber products. EVA is not biodegradable, so repurposing it presents a sustainable alternative to throwing out the material. Plus, reusing EVA involves a simple process of grinding it down and turning it into something new.

“Despite its unconventional appearance, this recycled material is a vital component in our commitment to sustainable and eco-conscious design,” Harbert and Rawlings told STIRpad.

Particle shows that products made from recycled materials don’t have to be boring, either. Its line of furniture and home goods is colorful and youthful. In fact, it was originally inspired by retro footwear.

“Our inspiration for our Homewares Capsule Collection stems from the color trends of past footwear collections,” Rawlings said, according to Hypebeast.

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