Nike is working on biodegradable sneakers made out of carbon

Calling them "gas" would be both a compliment and literal.

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Nike has increasingly made sneakers out of trash, and now it’s looking into greenhouse gases as a material source.

The sportswear giant has announced a partnership with Newlight, a biotechnology company that’s developed a process to convert carbon into a leather and plastic alternative. Not only is Newlight’s AirCarbon material carbon-neutral, but it’s actually carbon negative. And because AirCarbon is bio-based, it’s 100-percent biodegradable.

“AirCarbon offers an opportunity to further reduce our impact on the planet, Noel Kinder, Nike’s chief sustainability officer, said in a release. “Materials account for 70 percent of Nike’s total carbon footprint, and we’re accelerating our efforts and exploring new opportunities in this space because, in the race against climate change, we can’t wait for solutions, we have to work together to create them.”

A leather alternative card holder made by Newlight’s fashion offshoot Covalent. Covalent

How AirCarbon is made — Newlight pulls microorganisms from the ocean that consume oxygen and carbon and convert them inside their bodies to polyhydroxybutyrate, better known as PHB. After more than 10 years of development, the California-based company figured out how to dry PHB into a white powder that can then be melted into various forms that include fibers, sheets, and solid shapes.

Newlight has two retail brands under its umbrella to apply AirCarbon in two of the world’s most wasteful industries. A brand called Restore sells AirCarbon straws and cutlery, while Covalent uses the material for handbags, wallets, sunglasses, and tech accessories. Using Blockchain, Covalent also allows customers to trace each step of their individual product’s production.

While it’ll likely be a while before we see AirCarbon in Nike products, it’s worth checking out Covalent for any accessories you may need. Emphasis on “need” because the most sustainable thing you can do is to buy less, no matter what any item may be made of.