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The future of footwear: how sustainable are your sneakers?

The future of footwear: how sustainable are your sneakers?

Did you know that the world makes 23 billion pairs of trainer each year – about three times the global population – and throws away 300 million pairs? Most of these throwaways end up in landfill, and take decades to decompose.

Thankfully, there are solutions. This means ensuring that trainers made out of petroleum, rubber and virgin plastic (which produce too much carbon dioxide) are less attractive to consumers, and instead encouraging people to seek out trainers with a strong sustainability profile, whose makers have a genuine passion for helping the world’s ecology to thrive. By becoming curious, devoting time and energy to researching shoe brands and production processes, and then  buying from those who respect the earth, we can make great strides towards positive change.

Trainer brands promoting sustainable change:

In 2017, Adidas sold one million pairs of trainers made from ocean waste, and in 2019 they launched their first ever trainer made entirely from recycled plastic. You may have also heard of the Brazilian brand, Veja, whose entire collection is founded on transparency, fair trade and the use of organic, raw materials. As a result, their trainers cost five times more than the average pair to make, an eye-watering fact we all need to keep in mind when we are scouring the internet for deals!

Fishing nets, coffee grounds and old tyres are all things that might get repurposed into a pair of Ecoalf’s lightweight trainers, also containing recycled PET bottles and renewable sorona fibres. Speaking of repurposing, Nothing New uses only recycled plastic; in fact 5.6 plastic bottles and 160 gallons of water are saved with every pair of trainers that they make.

Ecoalf Eliot trainers

All Birds make running shoes and everyday trainers with all-natural materials like wool and trees. They are so confident in their footwear that they offer a money-back guarantee if you try the shoes for up to 100 days and don’t like them. Here’s what the makers say about the future: “The standard sneaker emits 12.5 kg CO2e (carbon emissions). Our average shoe emits 7.6 kg CO2e. Better, but we want to do more. Our goal—have no carbon footprint from the start. The first step to reduce our footprint is to measure it. And even though we’re not at zero yet, we can be. It’s all part of the plan.” Read more about All Birds sustainability plans here.