Burning through a pair of sneakers seems like a win. When the rubber starts to wear out and the top starts to wear out, it usually means that you cover hundreds of miles, train in the gym and do a hell of a lot of hard work. But have you ever wondered what really happens when you get rid of these trophy shoes? A short explanation: they are probably going to landfill. Enter the need for sustainable shoes.
Longer answer: not only throwing your shoes affects the earth, but even simply making this pair of shoes can cause serious damage to the environment. When you wear them out, most likely you buy something else. (Of course, you probably have a few pairs of shoes specifically for running, training, and lifestyle.)
For comparison, a study conducted in 2013 showed that one pair of sneakers can contain 65 different parts and 360 processing steps. This on average results in carbon emissions equivalent to 14 CO2 on average, equal to the amount of greenhouse gas emissions you get by driving about 35 miles. And this is just a pair of shoes. In the same study in 2013, sales of running shoes and jogging averaged 34 million per day, and they are likely to grow even higher in 2019 and beyond.
Obviously, there is room for improvement, so major brands have turned their attention to sustainable shoes – despite the fact that this is a more difficult category to protect the environment. “The challenge of sustainability is real, and the industry is moving forward,” says John Stokes, head of global sustainability at New Balance. “We focus on the materials we use most often and introduce new options that reduce some of these most significant effects. At the same time, we are thinking about the future of production and more systemic changes that can change what has been done over the long term. ”
While New Balance is working on testing shoes made from recycled materials (more on this below), other fitness and outdoor brands are working towards their own goals. Nike has been at the forefront of sustainability for many years, using recycled materials in its Air products and reducing waste through FlyKnit. In particular, they also take torn sneakers, grind them and turn them into sports coverings (for example, tracks on the World Headquarters campus). Brands like Merrell and Salomon have similar goals to the world.
Here's a deeper look at the sustainable future of shoes.
New Balance Launches Limited Edition Recycled Running Shoes
Seth Maxwell, shoe designer at New Balance, said the idea came when the team visited overseas factories. “We saw shelves with surplus materials that are no longer needed or left after seasonal serial launches – perhaps the factory ordered too much or used it not as planned,” he explains. Usually factories throw away these materials, but Maxwell and Co. decided to come up with a new strategy. “We knew that we could find a creative solution to use some of these residues – in essence, give them a new life,” he says.
Shoes themselves still offer performance. Underfoot you get the signature New Foam from New Balance, except that it is made from a single piece of foam, which provides extra softness. You also get one strap at the top along with a mesh for breathability. “In general, you can expect a lot of fun adventures in these shoes,” says Maxwell.
Test Launch 3.0 is priced at $ 180; only available on newbalance.com and in some retail stores while stocks last.
Merrell switches to shoes with the Xare Access XTR sweeper
After racing on the tracks you will see how the "sweeper" picks up the debris left by the runners. Since they do not receive sufficient recognition for their work in combating debris and pollution, Merrell made shoes designed specifically for them. The Bare Access XTR sweeper consists of 40% recycled plastic in the upper mesh and laces, as well as 30% recycled rubber soles resulting from a partnership with Vibram Ecodura. The midsole material also contains 10 percent algae, which reduces the use of fossil fuels and helps purify water during production.
Merrell has worked for years on more sustainable shoes, striving to ensure that the environmental factor does not mean that they will lose strength. “I think that especially for outdoor shoe brands, longevity is a huge factor,” says Erica Derilo, brand manager for Merrell. “People put on shoes, especially hiking and running shoes. And if you find yourself in the middle of nowhere without a cellular service and your shoes are out of order, you have problems. ” That is why Merrell conducted a serious check of his shoes to make sure that the recycled materials are from the upper to the middle sole to the sole. – withstand gross exploits.
“Longevity is also the best form of sustainability: the longer you can use our shoes before they are in the landfill, the better,” says Derilo. "Our goal is never to sacrifice longevity."
Salomon promises to make one-time reusable running shoes
While Salomon may never bring “conceptual shoes” (see above) to the market, the development team joined forces to figure out how the future of shoes would look for the brand. Their vision: to create shoes with high performance, but made exclusively from thermoplastic polyurethane (or TPU), so when it wears out, the team can sand it and turn it into a ski boot.
All of this is part of Salomon’s Play Minded program, a brand plan to reduce environmental impact by reducing carbon emissions by 30 percent, removing PFCs (a material used on textiles to repel water that doesn't break down in the environment), and creating more circular production cycle as they strive to do this with the Concept Shoe concept.
“Most shoe products today are made from many materials, so we came up with the conceptual shoe idea – it can be recycled into something else and contribute to a more circular economy,” said Olivier Mouzin, project manager at Salomon. The main goal is to bring shoes to one material without loss of technical characteristics, as well as extending the life of this material.
Keep an eye out for sneakers, probably in 2021.
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