Step into Sustainability: Five Eco-Friendly Trainers with ‘Sole’

4 mins

From creating clean fuel from organic waste to make their trainers to shoes with carbon footprint stamps, these brands are changing in the industry in the long run

Trainers serve their short purpose and then carry on living in our landfills or floating in our waters for hundreds of years. Just in the US alone, 300 million pairs of shoes are thrown away every year – with over 95 per cent ending up in landfill.

The ideal running shoe has ample cushioning, a durable sole, and a breathable, stylish look. Unfortunately, the materials that give running shoes these top qualities are nylon, polyester, polyurethane, EVA, and synthetic rubber which all contribute to the world’s mounting plastic problem.

Petroleum-based products may have had a good run but this a marathon not a sprint and there are new players disrupting the industry. These forward thinking companies have shoes made from natural materials, in an ethical manner, all while focusing on net-positive versus net-zero.

The Ethicalist loves these five sustainable companies producing trainers that are sure to keep you on your toes.


on running orange and white trainers

This company is all about athletes and movement, but more importantly about moving away from producing carbon when making their shoes. Their Cloudneo running shoe is 100 per cent recyclable, high performance and created with bio-based resources. The thing is, you never own it as it is only available through their Cyclon subscription service – which means after about six months – you send it back to them, they recycle them and send you a new pair.

This isn’t their only brilliant invention; they found a way to use carbon emissions in their shoes – CleanCloud™ turns carbon emissions into performance products. They flipped the idea that carbon emissions are waste, and instead looked at these harmful gases as a resource. Still in development, the first few pairs of the Cloudprime are being put through its paces by elite athlete testers the first step towards a fossil-free future.


white and beige veja trainers

This popular B-corp certified trainer company prioritises organic, fair-trade materials in their production process. Their approach is multifaceted, integrating social projects, economic justice, and ecological materials. Veja, although still on the journey, aims to achieve a net-positive impact by utilising natural materials free from deforestation links, upcycling plastic waste, optimising transportation in the supply chain, and minimising carbon emissions, rather than merely offsetting manufacturing

They also have a whole line of vegan shoes. If you want a smooth, sustainable run try The Condor 2 – it has durability and is made from 57 per cent bio-based and recycled materials.


lady with white trainers on

Allbirds is committed to achieving a zero carbon footprint by prioritising all-natural materials and eliminating petroleum-based components. Each shoe comes with a carbon footprint stamp, transparently displaying its environmental impact. If you run a lot, the Tree Runners stand out for their exceptional lightweight and breathability, thanks to the use of eucalyptus fibers. The Brazilian sugarcane midsole, made from the world’s first carbon-negative foam, provides superior cushioning, making them popular among runners, especially those with knee pain. Additionally, these shoes are machine washable, making them both convenient and eco-friendly.


man wearing breathable trainers at beach

All about going back to nature this sustainable brand believes that barefoot footwear allows your feet to move as naturally and freely as possible while also being healthier for joints. The transition to ‘barefoot’ running is easy with their Geo Court II – as it has enough cushioning to make the change less jarring.

Conserving energy in production and creating durable products with less material is core to their business. They also have a circular model – ReVivo – where customers can return unwanted or finished shoes and they will place them in other ‘homes’.


white trainers on grey stones

Hyloathletics believes that there would be no running if there was no planet to run on. A simple yet powerful statement of their commitment to the environment and the sport. They aim to reduce their carbon footprint in three ways: by using materials that emit less carbon, processes that are less energy-intensive and using a localised supply chain. They fund a project installing biogas digesters in Sichuan that decomposes organic waste, turning it naturally into clean fuel – replacing the need to burn coal or wood.

One of their other initiatives is Hyloop – a recycling platform – where you can give back your shoes in return for credit. For easy running try their Hylo LIGHT it mixes running technology and material innovation. Light on your feet, light on the planet.

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