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Grind Ear Plugs

The Grind Ear Plugs strive to eliminate waste while providing hearing protection in loud environments.

Photo of Matthew
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Ear plugs are a cost-effective method of hearing protection in industrial and other loud environments, but their extremely low cost makes them too easy to simply throw away. Using Nike Grind materials to make cheap, recyclable ear plugs reduces waste in any area where high volume sounds are an issue.

Their simplicity makes them easy to manufacture, and they can also be made almost entirely of Grind materials. EVA foam injection scraps will be used for the plugs themselves, while the connecting wire will be made out of a woven mixture of apparel textiles and rubber flashings. Epoxy/glue will be needed to attach the plugs to the wire, but no other non-Grind materials are necessary.

Company / Organization Name (if applicable)

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Which Nike Grind materials will your idea utilize?

  • Rubber Flashings
  • EVA Foam Injection Scraps
  • Mixed Apparel Textile

How specifically will these materials be incorporated into your solution?

Using EVA foam as the ear plugs themselves provides a rigid, sound-dampening solution to loud noises. The connecting wire will be made of woven rubber flashings and apparel textiles, lending increased strength and flexibility to the wire. To make the plugs, EVA foam will be flattened into thin sheets and cut into small segments that can then be rolled into the shape of an ear plug. They will maintain their shape by using epoxy inside the roll to hold it together. See the prototyping pictures for an example. For the wire, mixed textiles and rubber flashings will be cut into thin strips and woven together and then bonded like a rope to provide stability. Bringing the plugs and the wire together will require glue or epoxy.

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

Ear plugs are a simple concept that are easy to produce in a sustainable way without sacrificing user comfort.

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Prototyping

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

People working with loud machinery and other noisy equipment stand to benefit from Grind Ear Plugs by reducing their waste while still protecting their ears. The product applies to more than just industry workers, including airplane travelers and concert goers.

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

How is your idea innovative?

Ear plugs are a relatively simple design with not much room for change in regards to design itself. Grind Ear Plugs set themselves apart by being made almost entirely of recycled Grind materials, and they're also able to be recycled again and again into new pairs of ear plugs after the materials are sterilized. The circular design of Grind Ear Plugs will lead to more sustainable workplaces.

What inspired this idea?

My university machine shop has a box full of hundreds of ear plugs, and I see people regularly grab handfuls of them only to throw all but one pair away. I want to reduce the amount of waste created at my school, while also making an item that can be used anywhere in the world.

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

I'm Matt Lundgren, a mechanical engineering student at Cal Poly SLO, and I love to work with my hands to craft new ideas. Whether it's wall decorations like giant deer antlers or interactive signs for my friends, if I can think of it I'll build it.

In what city are you located?

San Luis Obispo

In what country are you located?


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

Becoming a Top Idea would lead to full product development of the manufacturing process and distribution of Grind Ear Plugs, helping people in loud places who also care about helping to create a sustainable environment.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Lauren Ito

Hi Matthew,

Great to hear from you! Could you please provide more content for the submission question, "How specifically will these materials be incorporated into your solution?" How might you begin to turn the raw Nike Grind materials into your final product? What might that process look like step-by-step?

With the deadline fast-approaching at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time, please ensure all of your final updates are completed by then.

Excited to learn more!

Photo of Matthew

Thanks for the constructive feedback Lauren! I've added a more detailed explanation on how to actually create my final product, which also explains how I made the ear plugs in my prototypes.