The Sustainable Footrace: 2019’s Sustainable Sneakers

2019 is shaping up to be the year for sustainable sneakers. There’s something of an arms race going on between brands, big and small, to develop the world’s most sustainable sneaker, and we’re behind this all the way. Take a look at these four brands pushing the boundaries of how sustainable a sneaker can be.

Reebok Cotton and Corn

First up is Reebok’s Cotton and Corn sneakers. Initially debuting in August of last year, they updated the design this year to remove the last bits of animal made products, making the shoe entirely vegan. The upper part of the shoe is made from 100% cotton, the sole is made from a corn-based polyurethane and the insole is made from caster bean oil. The shoes include no dyes, removing another potential source of harmful chemicals. All in all, the shoe is 75% USDA certified biobased, 100% vegan, and are running at $80.

Native Shoes Plant Shoes

If you have a little more of a budget and refuse to settle for anything less than 100%, this next shoe is right up your alley. Native Shoes Plant Shoe is the only shoe we know of that is 100% plant based and 100% biodegradable. Using everything from cotton and corn to pineapple husks and hemp, every single thing on this shoe was grown, and when worn out the shoe can be thrown into your personal compost bin when done. Instead of glue, it uses stitched jute soaked in olive oil, which explains the higher price range ($200) but if you want to go all natural then it’ll be worth it.

Everlane Tread

Next up we bring you a shoe from a giant of a sustainable company, Everlane. While the other shoes so far deal with not making more plastic, Tread by Everlane is about what to do with all this plastic we have already in the world. Tread by Everlane is made by blending natural rubber with post-industrial recycled rubber, resulting in a sole that’s 94.2% virgin-plastic free. The rest of the shoe is made as sustainably as possible too, with leather from a gold certified tannery and laces made from recycled plastic bottles. These shoes, like all of Everlane’s products, strive to be as low impact as humanly possible, and they run at $98.

Adidas Futurecraft Loop.

Finally, we have a shoe that’s not only challenging how sustainable a shoe can be but is challenging the concept of linear consumer culture. The Adidas Futurecraft Loop is their first attempt at a 1:1 100% recyclable shoe, and as lovers of all things upcycling and circular economy we applaud them. The idea is that when your Futurecraft Loop shoe is used up, you send the she back to them and they recycle it into more Futurecraft Loop shoes. Right now they’ve only achieved a 10:1 ratio, but that’s because the product is still in its early stages. The big innovation behind the shoe is to make every part out of the same polymer blend, that way the shoe can simply be ground up into the polymer and remade into a new shoe again. The shoe isn’t out yet but keep up with Adidas to see updates on the prototype’s progress.


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