The recent article by Jennifer Nini on the adidas x Parley collaboration on the upcycled sustainable running shoes has generated a lot of interest. And rightfully so as each pair of the adidas UltraBOOST Parley and UltraBOOST X saves at least 11 plastic bottles from being dumped into the world’s oceans. Overlay this with the 9.7% athletic footwear global market share of the Adidas brand and you get amazing results.
However, it is important to note that this initiative of adidas and Parley is just a drop in the bucket. You see, manufacturing just one pair of running shoes accounts for as much as 30 pounds (13.61 kgs) of carbon dioxide emissions. Plus, the materials that are used for shoe production, such as leather, nylon, synthetic rubber etc., are also damaging to the environment. So, while the top three brands in the sports footwear industry — Nike, Adidas and Puma — are initiating processes to reducing their negative environmental impacts (which some argue are not enough), we still have a lot of other players which need to start cleaning up their act.
As a sports enthusiast and/or sneaker or running shoes customer, you can help make change happen by patronising brands that are ensuring environmental protection in their processes. So here is a curated list of brands that are eco-friendly:
If you are after a pair of shoes that supports freedom of movement, then Vivo Barefoot is for you. Vivos (as the shoes are known) have the thinnest possible soles, with no heels or support. They allow your feet to move as they are supposed to, and as per their website, their shoes provides for “maximum sensory feedback.” Wearing their shoes feels like you’re barefoot and that’s exactly the point!
There is a Vivo for practically everything, whether for walking, running, hiking, dancing or whatever kind of adventure you’re undertaking. In fact, athletes endorse Vivo, from trail runners to yogis, to endurance athletes so we at least know the shoes are high-performing for the task at hand.
But the best thing about this brand? Environmental sustainability is at the core of its business. In fact, there are four areas in which Vivo practices its commitment to sustainability:
- By ensuring efficiency in their operations through energy conservation, applying cost-effective improvements in their operations, and technological innovations;
- Following specific criteria for each material used in the manufacture of each pair of shoes — must be natural materials that are sustainably sourced, recycled materials from PET or rubber compounds, durable and locally produced materials;
- Making sure that each pair of shoes last for a long time; and
- Providing maximum performance.
Check out Vivo’s vegan shoe range, with shoes made from algae, and also upcycled plastic bottles!
To purchase Vivo Barefoot shoes, simply visit vivobarefoot.com. They offer worldwide shipping and various delivery options.
Interested in sourcing your shoes from a certified B Corporation? If so, Ecoalf is definitely your choice. A B Corp certification means that a company or organisation complies with the “rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency”. And of course, Ecoalf is committed to maintaining the standards of a Certified B Corporation as it provides clothing, accessories and footwear choices.
Ecoalf’s commitment to sustainability is anchored on three pillars:
1) the use of recycled materials such as PET bottles, fishing nets, cotton, wool, tires and coffee rounds;
2) tapping materials of low environmental impact; and
3) totally phasing out the use of natural leather because of the use of chromium in tanning as well as traceability issues.
What’s more, this Spanish brand maintains strict adherence to human rights and the rights of workers.
Every pair of Ecoalf shoes are made with the highest quality standards in mind and ensures comfort, sophistication, and lightweight designs.
To view and shop for Ecoalf shoes, just visit their website. They offer international shipping and accept Visa, 4B, MasterCard and Paypal.
Interested in sports shoes and sneakers made from waste materials? If so, check out FYE or For Your Earth, an Australian brand where you can purchase sneakers in which the upper part comes from recycled plastic bottles and polyester waste, and the bottom part from half recycled soles and hand new rubber.
By purchasing FYE, you are helping to reduce the number of waste materials heading to landfills and are instead, supporting circular fashion and a circular economy. In doing so, impacts to the environment are lessened or minimised.
To check out FYE’s collections, visit foryourearthshoes.com.au. They also ship to international destinations for a fee.
“Better things made in a better way” – this was the vision of Tim Brown and Joey Zwillinger in setting up All Birds, an eco-conscious shoe company based in New Zealand. The duo were guided by said mantra and focuses on producing shoes made from natural fibres such as locally-grown and sourced merino wool.
There are only three guiding principles All Birds follows: design simplicity; comfort; and the use of natural materials. All Birds abhors the use of synthetic alternatives and anything that can harm nature. In fact, even in its packaging, the brand only uses recycled cardboard and similar biodegradable materials.
Because of this, All Birds has also achieved B Corp certification. The business also gives back to communities that need help through the Soles4Souls program.
So what are you waiting for? Browse for your very own pair at allbirds.com. Currently, they ship only to the US, New Zealand and Australia. But other regions and countries are coming up soon.
Veja is a footwear company that has been established by two Frenchmen — Sebastien Kopp and Francois Ghislain Morillion, also known in Brazil as the ‘Francais locos’ or crazy French. As Kopp explains in an interview, they have earned the nickname because their shoes are five-to-seven-times more expensive compared to shoes from the big brands.
The reason for the price difference? Their shoes feature certified organic cotton materials that are free of toxic chemicals, and have undergone physical and mechanical tests to ensure durability. The soles they use for their shoes come directly from rubber trees straight from the Amazon, a business decision that actually helps in ensuring the preservation of the rubber trees as only the liquid latex is extracted in order to make the soles. The best part — the company practices fair trade principles, pre-financing harvests, and works directly with producers and their families in Brazil with guaranteed contracts to ensure that they live decently.
Because of all the above, Wired.com have actually dubbed Veja the “coolest sustainable sneakers we have ever seen.” But that’s not all. Veja’s sneakers are designed to withstand the test of time. Their website says, “We take longer to design our shoes than other big brands. We love designing sneakers that we’ll be proud to wear in 10 years.”
All of these underscore why Veja is indeed Paris’ favourite sneaker brand, one that is patronised by celebrities and well-known through word of mouth. So if you are on the lookout for a cool pair of eco-conscious sneakers, just visit their website. They even offer free worldwide shipping for orders exceeding EUR 150.
What other eco-friendly and ethical brands of sneakers, sports and running shoes should be included here? Feel free to leave their details below and we’ll gladly check them out!
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The curated list is based on the writer’s research and does not fully take into account all ethical considerations that are unique to each individual. Before making a purchase, we encourage you to do your own research paying particular attention to the supply chain and your own particular set of ethics. You can also check out online tools and apps that provide product reviews and brand ratings here.
Title image credit: Allbirds