People may joke about their dirty old sneakers turning into science projects or mini ecosystems, but once OAT Shoes' compostable sneakers become commercially available within the next several weeks ... let's just say, those same people may no longer be joking when they make those kind of statements. Made using hemp, cork, bio-cotton, certified biodegradable plastics, chlorine-free bleach and other nontoxic materials, the shoes are designed to completely break down when buried in the ground – the first batch will even come with seeds in their tongues, so that wildflowers will sprout up in commemoration of users' planted, expired kicks.

OATS is the brainchild of Dutch entrepreneurs Christiaan Maats and Dirk-Jan Oudshoorn. "Our future lies in a reconciliation between industry and nature, between mankind and nature," they state on the company website. "We have to close the loop, come full circle and realize we're an integral part of the whole thing." Part of the duo's green philosophy includes manufacturing the shoes in Europe, to limit shipping-related carbon emissions.

After a reported two years of research and development, the launch of their Virgin Collection of sneakers is now imminent. Although the shoes are not yet available to the public, they have already won second prize at last month's Green Fashion Awards in Amsterdam.

The sneakers will initially be sold through the OATS webshop, with prices yet to be announced. So far, they will only be available to buyers within Europe.

View gallery - 4 images