What are your sneakers made of? How can piranha poop help make your favorite footwear? And would you wear shoes made from a pineapple plant?
Take a closer look at how pineapples, piranhas, and poisonous beans can transform your sneakers—called ‘trainers’ in other parts of the world. This video from Natural History Museum London shares how our sneakers are made possible by plant materials like castor beans, pineapple leaves, rubber tree sap, and cork tree bark, not to mention the biodiverse ecosystems where each of these plants live.
If rubber tree seeds pass through a black piranha’s digestive tract intact, they’ll have hitched a ride to new areas where they can sprout. Soil microbes and fungi help castor beans grow between 10 to 13 meters (33 to 43 feet) tall, providing a sustainable oil for making light yet durable materials. And when cork is sustainably harvested, the trees can continue to provide a habitat where birds thrive.
Of course, we rely on the natural world for so much more than just sneakers. From NHM:
“It is easy to see why humans need nature: we need fresh water, clean air, and plants and animals for food. But what we need specifically is biodiversity. Nature around us isn’t enough – we need a natural world that is complex, resilient, thriving and full of variety…
“The benefits biodiversity brings are called ecosystem services. Biodiversity keeps us all alive, but it also helps to make our lives healthy and safe.
“Ecosystem services include forests that diminish floods, coastlines that protect us from changing sea levels, wetlands that regulate pollution and parks that ease our anxiety.”
Biodiversity also enables medical and scientific discoveries, as well as innovative solutions and materials. Learn more with NHM’s interactive: Biodiversity and You.
Then learn with these related videos:
• Why is biodiversity so important?
• Feedback loops: How nature gets its rhythms
• From Trash to Space Hippie: Nike shoes made from waste
• Are your sneakers are part of the plastic problem?
• Harvesting cork in rural Spain
• The Fungi in Your Future: Mushroom leather, furniture, and more
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