Recently I grabbed a copy of Dazed and Confused, ‘one of the world’s leading style and culture magazines’, to read on an early-morning train journey. The contents were of variable interest levels – it was disappointing to find the ‘new king of the beats’ to be some disco bloke rather than a new Kerouac; the fetish-inspired fashion spreads made me wish I had a copy of Country Walking to shield the innocent eyes of fellow travellers; I needed to know about the Wonder Women of America book. But what struck me the most was that it had a packet of seeds glued to the cover…
These hadn’t migrated from a nearby copy of Organic Gardening. They were part of a tie-in with Adidas, promoting their Grün shoes, ‘a collection that aims to better the environment by efficiently utilizing the natural resources of this world’.
The idea of the seeds is that they can be used to make a seed bomb. Seed bombs were dreamt up as part of the guerilla gardening movement, as a form of nonviolent political direct action. Basically you mix seeds with compost and clay and chuck them on to buts of urban wasteland. (Proper instructions here, if you fancy having a go.) “Vandalise the city with nature” and subversively transform the landscape… I’m not sure where I read about this originally – Adbusters magazine, Permaculture or somesuch – but it has always stuck in a corner of my mind, like a patch of wildflowers colonising some corporate urban non-space, as a life-enhancingly anarchic practice. So seeing it co-opted to sell shoes jars somewhat.
But should it? Adidas presumably sell lots of shoes and has an appealing brand and widepread distribution – more than many ethical clothes brands – so maybe their doing some green stuff has a significant effect. And if subversive actions like seedbombing are a good idea then isn’t it a good thing for them to be spread through the communication channels of mainstream commercial culture?