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Children Discover Circular Economy First Hand Through Custom Plushies

We bring children’s submitted drawings to life by creating custom plushies made from Nike Grind materials.

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Our service enables children to discover circular economy first hand by encouraging them to recycle their used footwear. In doing so, we bring children’s submitted drawings to life by creating custom plushies made from Nike Grind materials. By practicing acts of sustainability, children can discover what it means to be sustainable while gaining a new plush friend along the way.

The process begins with a child sending in a pair of used footwear along with a submitted drawing of their choice. Their used footwear is sent to Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program and is recycled into Nike Grind materials. From there, our manufacturing process begins by using Nike’s recycled materials to create a custom plushie based on a child’s drawing. Once complete, the plushie is then distributed by a third party delivery service. Upon delivery, the child will receive their custom plushie along with a booklet to describe how each part of the shoe has been recycled to create their toy. By asking customers to send in their drawings and used footwear, they’re participating in the creation process, adding greater value to each unique plushie being made. Customers can choose to send in their plushies for repairs or to be recycled back to Nike Grind materials.

Which Nike Grind materials will your idea utilize?

  • Rubber Granulate
  • EVA Foam Components
  • Laminated EVA Foam
  • Laminated PU Foam
  • Mixed Apparel Textile
  • Mixed Footwear Textile
  • Footwear Fiber "Fluff"
  • Full Grain Leather Scraps
  • Synthetic Leather

How specifically will these materials be incorporated into your solution?

- Footwear Fiber “Fluff” will be used to simulate stuffing for the plushies. - Rubber Granulate is used to simulate Poly Pellets that give plushies a nice weighted feel, similar to bean bags. - EVA Foam Components will be used for solid detailing such as noses, paws, or eyes. - Mixed Apparel Textiles will either be used for the exterior shell of the plushies, or broken down to create new fiber threads and dyed to the colours we need. Additional Material Use: Leather Scraps, Synthetic Leather, Mixed footwear Textiles, Laminated PU Foam, and Laminated EVA Foam can also be used for additional pattern detailing such as spots or stripes, depending on the design of the plushie.

Please include a visual (can be either 2D or 3D) representation/prototype of your concept. (required)

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Research & Early Testing
  • Prototyping

Describe your target market. Who will benefit from your product?

Our target market ranges from children ages 3 and up and new parents. In order to create a circular future, we believe that this starts not only with ourselves, but with children and future generations. It’s never too early to learn about the benefits of a circular economy and to start taking small steps to living more sustainably.

How will you scale your idea? Please describe in detail your plan to scale your concept.

Creating complete custom toys can be labour intensive and costly. When scaling, we plan to introduce a more affordable option allowing children to design their own toy through an online website. Here, they’ll be able to select different combinations of shapes, patterns, and colours to create their own custom toy. This process allows us to mass produce pieces that can be stitched together for a custom plushie, reducing the amount of labour. Meanwhile, children are still able to create their own unique toy and discover the process of circular economy at a more affordable price. For more details, see the Business Model Canvas.

How is your idea innovative?

Children often experience forms of passive learning– from reading books, presentation, videos, etc.. While this approach provides new information, it doesn’t allow them to engage or interact with the subject. We believe that learning itself is a practiced behaviour, a form of mental doing, and the more someone is actively engaged, the more they learn. By asking children to recycle/donate used footwear to create their custom plushie, we are teaching children to practice acts of sustainability.

What inspired this idea?

- Imagining the shoe as an animal – utilizing its various parts - Using Nike Grind for more than its materials by telling a story with Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program - Turning to children and future generations to create a circular future

Tell us about yourself and your team. What is your background and experience?

In what city are you located?


In what country are you located?


Please describe how becoming a Top Idea will support the growth of your concept.

- An opportunity to prototype with Nike Grind Materials - Provide further insight into creating sustainable and educational toys in partnership with OpenIDEO - Production insight by Nike Grind Materials - Increased exposure and credibility - Insight on how to turn our concept from small to large scale - Receive feedback from the community of OpenIDEO on how to improve our concept

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