Reduce Your ~Footprint~ With Sustainable Sneakers

by: Rosie Dalton | 1 week ago | Features

Image: the Baan Canvas Sneaker by Collective Canvas. 

The sneaker industry needs revolutionising. According to research by MIT scientists, for example, the average pair of sneakers generates 30 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. That’s 13kg – the equivalent of leaving a 100-watt light bulb on for a whole week. In addition, many sneaker materials also contain toxic chemicals. Luckily, there are some sustainable sneaker brands minimising the industry’s large footprint.  

Much of a sneaker’s impact comes from the manufacturing phase, through the extraction of certain raw materials. "It's the many small parts – the making it, the manufacturing – cutting out the pieces, injection-moulding the rubber, sewing it together,” explains Elsa Olivetti, co-author of the MIT study. Which is why it's important to reduce this impact where possible.

Fortunately, brands like Veja use sustainable materials like organic cotton and bio-sourced CWL to craft their sneakers. The brand works closely with an association of local cotton growers in Tauá, Brazil called ADEC. By working directly with producers through ADEC, Veja ensures farmers earn a decent living wage by setting a fixed price per kilo for cotton that’s almost 63% more than the global average.

Veja also uses wild rubber harvested in the Amazon, which adds value to the forest and supports the livelihoods of local Seringueiros (rubber tappers) there. By contrast, most sneakers use synthetic rubber in their soles, which is made from crude oil in a process that churns through energy and water. The chemicals used in this production process can also seep from the shoe, as it wears.

New Zealand brand Collective Canvas also makes sneakers from naturally grown and sustainably sourced materials. “Our intention is to provide a clear alternative to the status quo,” the brand says. Which is why materials like organic cotton, natural latex rubber, and renewable castor oil (for insoles) make up 97% of the composition for this brand’s sneakers. Meanwhile, their use of water-based glues helps minimise impact further. 

According to Forbes, footwear retailers “must innovate or bust” now. So, to help reduce your ~footprint~ choose sustainable sneakers.

Shop our sell-out collab with Collective Canvas which is back in stock, and which is made from sustainable materials in a transparent supply chain: 



Shop our new selection of Veja sneakers, fairly-made from sustainable materials:



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