Allbirds and adidas have created the world’s lowest carbon footprint running shoe
The vast majority of them are almost entirely made from non-biodegradable petroleum-derived plastics and foams, such as polyester, thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and ethylene vinyl acetate. (EVA). All used to create the comfy uppers and the responsive superfoam runners swear by.
These fossil fuel dependent materials are problematic for the environment. The EVA and TPU that make your midsoles more responsive can survive up to 1000 years in a landfill. With around 300 million pairs of shoes thrown away each year in the UK alone, this is an ever-expanding pile of plastic waste littering the planet.
Allbirds and adidas were the first to advance the sustainability agenda – the Parley shoes from adidas – made from recycled and reclaimed marine litter, targeting the highly visible problem of ocean plastics. While his Futurecraft Loop shoes demonstrated the potential of so-called closed-buckle shoes. Made from 100% recyclable TPU, Loop shoes are designed to be reborn as fully functional running shoes. Although they still require virgin plastics to maintain their performance and can only be reincarnated once.
Launched in 2014, Allbirds built its brand as a direct-to-consumer business offering trendy sneakers that replaced traditional polluting materials with more sustainable alternatives. A hit with investors, it quickly rose to unicorn status and was recently valued at around $ 1.7 billion. Over the past two years, it has set itself the goal of expanding into the running shoe market, first launching the Wool Dasher and more recently the Dasher Mizzle.
Beyond these two brands, the industry has also taken responsibility, albeit slowly. The past year has seen a plethora of green offers. Swiss running shoe maker On has announced its first recyclable running shoe, the Cyclon, based on a subscription retail model. Salomon unveiled the Index.01 – a shoe designed to be recycled. Like Allbirds, the Brazilian eco-fashion footwear brand Veja has also entered the race with its offer to create post-petroleum footwear, the Condor, the Condor 2 and more recently the Marlin.
So change is underway, but the urgency for faster innovation has been the catalyst for Allbirds and adidas to increase openness and deeper collaboration.
âWhen it comes to sustainability, we don’t see ourselves competing with each other, but competing for the future,â said Allbirds co-founder Tim Brown. Fast business. âIf we don’t make a change quickly, there won’t be a proper future. ”
Teamwork makes work green
Adidas is no stranger to collaborations, of course, having worked with people like Stella McCartney and Kanye West. He has also partnered with Allbirds previously on clothing. But for a brand whose slogan is “Impossible is nothing,” calling for help from a rival shoemaker seems like an important admission. Adidas is, after all, the biggest player selling 11 million pairs of shoes in 2019.