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In a world where millions of runners have truly impacted the running community, a growing number of consumers are seeking planet-friendly options. Suppliers are answering the call from the production line, integrating more sustainable and eco-thoughtful practices into the supply chain.
Sustainable shoe designs focus on reducing waste, conserving resources, and minimising the carbon footprint of the production process. It is a fast-evolving area and we will see big steps forward over the next couple of years.
We consider several factors when classing a running shoe as eco-conscious. It would meet one or more of the following criteria:
Many brands are now using polyester made from recycled plastics. Shoes comprise a lot of different components and materials. We aim to give you the percentages for each component in the product description.
Shop Shoes Containing Recycled Materials »
This incudes reducing carbon emissions, responsible use of chemicals and water, or use of biodegradable elements, which will activate when the item is discarded. It also includes brands that work with local charities to support communities, and ensure fair working practices throughout the supply chain.
It's great knowing that in their commitment to reducing impact on climate change, established brands like Saucony and Asics are introducing bio-based materials to the midsoles of their running shoes. Using renewable resources, like plant-based materials, whilst maintaining the highest quality of cushioning and support is challenging, still the brands are forging ahead and we are already seeing some impressive results.
Trail running shoes are catching up with road shoes when it comes to eco-conscious goals. Brooks are using PriintDyed uppers which use substantially less water and energy than traditional dying methods. Saucony are introducing bio-based materials into their midsoles.
The trail and off-road running shoes below come with advanced features like rock plates, durable outsoles, and tough-wearing uppers. These provide lasting protection from abrasions, stones, and rough terrains. All feature recycled content in their uppers and the brands we're highlighting take an overall more progressive approach to sustainability.
An increasing number of shoe brands have implemented sustainable strategies. These may be centred on waste reduction, reduced carbon emissions, renewable energy use, minimised reliance on plastics and non-sustainable materials used in the making. This is an ongoing initiative, so below are current and future policies for each:
MISSION: Reduce water consumption in its operations by 8.3% compared to previous years • Recycled polyester to replace standard polyester materials in shoes by 2030, a goal they are close to already • Increase the use of renewable electricity in key regions by 2030 • Reduce emissions • Introduce bio-based materials to midsole construction
MISSION: Brooks takes a holistic approach to managing impact throughout each product's life cycle, from raw materials, all the way through to product use and end of life • Reduction of carbon emissions by using recycled alternatives, using low impact dyeing processes, and sourcing materials from factories that use renewable energy • Maximising pattern efficiency for upper materials • Goal to achieve 100% sustainable materials and processes by 2040 • Targets to achieve carbon neutrality in its operations by 2040 • Source only materials with minimum 50% recycled or bio-based content by 2030
MISSION: Aspiring to reduce carbon footprint and impact on waterways • Working on sustainable sourcing to mitigate social and environmental impacts • Aiming to achieve 100% transparency in their supply chain by 2025
MISSION: Using renewable energy, innovating product manufacturing processes, using recycled plastics and plant-derived materials, and improving the durability of products in the challenge to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 • Reduce CO2 emissions by 30% in the supply chain by 2030
MISSION: 50% of recycled polyester integrated into products by 2025 • Decrease in landfill from footwear factories by 2025 • Eliminate use and discharge of hazardous chemicals by 2025
Shop New Balance
MISSION: Working alongside partners and brands within their supply chain, On are implementing energy efficiency and renewable solutions to drive sustainable production • Iconic feature of the On shoes, the Speedboard, revamped to reduce 90% of waste and 60% in greenhouse gas emissions • Use only 100% recycled materials by 2024 • Eliminate single-use plastic from business operations • Use recyclyed packaging for all products • Reduce water usage within the supply chain • Define and implement a circular model for products
MISSION: Partnerships with organisations to promote sustainability within the running community • Increase use of recycled materials in shoe production by 75% in 2024 • Committed to reducing waste by ensuring that at least 50% of their products are made with recycled, natural or eco-friendly materials by 2025
Q: Can you recycle old running shoes?
A: Yes you can. Doing your best for the environment when selecting a new pair of shoes is only part of the story. Throwing out your favourite running shoes once they have served their purpose, means they'll eventually end up in landfill. Find out more on how to properly dispose of your old shoes in our Environmental Policy. Or just drop off your old shoes at our London store.
Q: How else can I make running more sustainable?
A: Bring a reusable water bottle. Pledge to remove rubbish and debris from trails during runs, or support organisations that are working to protect running trails.
Q: How do I take good care of my running shoes?
A: Proper cleaning and drying of your running shoes can extend their life, which is better for the planet. Find out more in:
The Best Way to Clean Running Shoes
Q: How do I know when to replace my running shoes?
A: Sadly, there comes a time when your treasured running shoe no longer supports you properly. Check out our guide on knowing when it's time to let go:
When to Change Your Running Shoes
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