The Sneaker Industry is Taking Steps Towards Sustainability

The Sneaker Industry is Taking Steps Towards Sustainability


Many aspects of our modern lifestyle are already well-known as top contributors to environmental damage. Vehicle emissions, pollution, and urbanization, for instance, are the ones that instantly come to mind. However, an Insider feature on fashion industry waste points out that fast fashion actually produces 10% of all humanity’s carbon emissions. The sneaker industry, to be specific, deteriorates in production quality over time despite the increasing demand, which is why 90% of shoes still end up in landfills. But in recent years, those in the sneaker sector have taken the initiative to push for a more sustainable industry.

The Search for Sustainable Materials

Sneaker culture has become the very opposite of sustainable. Weekly drop systems that have been normalized actually end up encouraging reckless consumerism, non-stop production, and eventual sneaker waste, as explained by a street fashion sustainability article from NSS Mag. This, paired with unethical production practices, takes a toll on the environment. But brands have been continuously trying to find and develop more eco-friendly materials to make their processes more sustainable from the beginning of production.

A spokesperson from sportswear brand Nike has recently claimed that sustainability is “a driving vision” for its future success. Endeavors such as its Space Hippie and Grind are examples of their commitment to this movement. Their newest venture into sustainable footwear was revealed to be the Nike Crater Impact, which arrived in April of this year. Its Nike Grind Rubber midsole is composed of recycled factory scraps, which explains how each model has a uniquely-speckled pattern.

Meanwhile, Adidas and Allbirds collaborated on creating Futurecraft Footprint, which is a low-carbon shoe. The design teams who worked on the model aimed to minimize waste and carbon emissions by sticking to material and pattern efficiency during production. The shoe produces approximately 2.94 kilograms of CO2 per pair, which is a personal best for both brands. Moreover, Adidas executive board member Brian Grevy reiterates that Adidas as a global brand is open to collaboration and concepts that are meant to spark systemic change.

Similar to Allbirds, Paris-born sneaker brand Veja also has sustainability as its priority. The brand has never really been big on investing in marketing, advertising, or communications. Instead, they put their money into working towards very ambitious sustainability goals. All of the raw materials, like vegetable-based leather, natural rubber, and vegan suede, are all sourced and managed on their own. Moreover, they also want to work on tracing recycled PET and reducing their overall carbon emissions.

The Future of the Sneaker and Fashion Industry

In our article on ‘Upcycling Opens Creative and Low-waste Doors for Our Wardrobes’, we highlight how many of today’s most prominent fashion figures are advocating for upcycling and reworking garments to help reduce fashion waste. In the world of sneakers, plenty of mid-level brands are making waves with their efforts in moving towards sustainability. Sneaker Impact sets an example as it takes new and gently used sneakers and sends them to the hands of micro-businesses in developing countries to strengthen their economy.

Any form of rerouting old footwear from ending up in landfills will not only help reduce our carbon footprint but also serve as an opportunity for those who wish to innovate and create something new out of these sneakers. And by supporting these brands’ initiatives and practicing sustainable buyer habits ourselves, perhaps we’ll be able to slow down or lessen the impact of this culture of reckless consumerism we are experiencing today.


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