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Buying new things is never sustainable (full stop), but there's zero chance we're calling it quits on Nike sneakers. To make us feel somewhat better about our inevitable purchases, the footwear giant has partnered with Newlight Technologies to help offset some of its environmental impact.

The two entities announced plans to begin exploring the use of AirCarbon, a carbon-negative material that can be used in place of plastic and leather.

Essentially, AirCarbon is made out of gas. In layman's terms, the stuff is made of a biomaterial called PHB, a natural byproduct of ocean-dwelling microorganisms that feed on methane and carbon dioxide.

To produce AirCarbon at scale, Newlight replicates this underwater process on land. PHB is dried down to powder and ultimately melted into a substance that can mimic plastic, fiber, and animal skin.

According to Noel Kinder, Nike's chief sustainability officer, materials account for 70 percent of the company's total carbon footprint. Using AirCarbon to replace, say, the mesh upper of the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus and the foam insole of the Air Force 1 will amount to a significant reduction in Nike's carbon output.

AirCarbon is also FDA food contact approved, a clearance that's allowed Newlight to create AirCarbon straws (no more soggy paper tubes) and compostable cutlery in collaboration with Shake Shack. This begs a rather pertinent question: like Crocs, will our Nike sneakers eventually be edible?

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