Style: Reducing Their Footprint

Reducing Their Footprint

By Zoe Cormier

Photo courtesy of Nike

Shoe manufacturing is notorious for toxic dyes and glues, wasteful scraps, and landfill clutter. But several major brands are starting to improve that process, creating more sustainable footwear that treads lighter globally.

Brooks molds their midsoles individually to eliminate waste, and this July, their Trance 8 runner will have a plastic midsole that can biodegrade in 20 years—instead of the usual 1,000. Nike has crushed more than 18 million pairs of used and defective shoes into a composite, Nike Grind, that has resurfaced more than 200 sports fields worldwide. And their new Considered line of footwear—which includes the Air Jordan XX3 and the Wavy Jane—is made in part from manufacturing leftovers. Timberland and Patagonia recycle rubber scraps into some of their soles, and Crocs launched a take-back program this year that grinds down old shoes to make new ones.

“People think eco-friendly has to mean recycled or organic, but there are energy needs and transportation emissions, too,” says Galahad Clark, director of Terra Plana, a British company that’s leading the way in the eco-friendly-shoe movement. “The most important thing is that shoes are made well, used, and loved, and not just worn a couple of times and thrown away.”

Issue 25

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