Earth Day is here again to remind us all to get a little greener. Sneaker and apparel brands are the latest in recent years to join the eco wave of ethical production and ‘green’ designs. In celebration of Earth Day, we’ve rounded up some sneaker and apparel powerhouses to break down the sustainable efforts being made. With shoes made from mushrooms, a plan to help garment workers in Vietnam and even Jaden Smith, here’s a dive into brands that are consciously crafted to both look dope, and be made green.
New Balance has a plan to become more eco-conscious by 2030, and Jaden Smith is the key to all of it — ok, we’re joking (but he is part of it). The company has outlined five goals as part of its approach to a greener future, spanning materials used on the micro side to its operation facilities as a part of the macro approach.
With polyester and leather being some of the brand’s biggest climate-culprits, they are committed to sourcing 100 percent preferred leather and 50 percent recycled polyester by 2025.
In that same timeline, New Balance has also committed to using 100 percent renewable electricity across its global operations which should drop GHG emissions by about 30 percent by the time 2030 comes around. NB is eliminating the use and discharge of hazardous chemicals and will aim to send zero waste to the landfill from footwear factories. If that wasn’t enough, they’re also launching an apparel repair program next year—and the plan doesn’t stop there. Building on its macro approach, New Balance is working closely with the GIZ Energy Support Program. The aim is to improve energy efficiency within the supply chain and develop rooftop solar energy projects. Now, enough with the science, on to the drip of it all.
Shopping sustainably is great but, let’s be honest, it can be hard to tell which products are green. All garments made with 50 percent or more recycled or organic content will have a green leaf icon, adding ease to buying. So, how does Jaden Smith tie into all of this? Most of the collaborations Smith has done across brands tend to have an eco-tie in (he has his own plastic-free water brand called Just Water) and this is no different. Smith’s Vision Racer ReWorked will be crafted in a new colourway for Earth Day. What makes this shoe different from previous releases is the materials. Composed of around 74 percent Spinnex, a partially recycled fiber that incorporates at least 30 percent factory textile waste, and recycled polyester and spandex it means no two shoes will be quite the same.
Arc’teryx has always been a brand with a conscience. Whether it’s improving access to nature for everyone, focusing on mental health initiatives, or creating products ethically, there’s a reason it’s a leader in this space. By 2030, the brand is committed to reducing GHG emissions by 65 percent. By targeting four areas—lower-impact materials and product design, renewable energy projects, energy efficiency, and circular business models— the brand is on track to further improve its sustainability efforts.
Beyond efforts at the production level, and understanding the impact COVID-19 has had globally on its team of garment workers, Arc’teryx has put emphasis on the talented people making the products.
Starting this year, approximately 60 models from three facilities located in Vietnam will be Fair Trade Certified. These items make up around 20 percent of the brand’s total products. That sounds great but you might be wondering, what does Fair Trade actually mean? Fair question.
For each Arc’teryx Fair Trade product ordered, premiums are paid directly to garment workers to improve their livelihoods. This will help with things such as childcare, health insurance, and clean water, to protect the welfare of garment workers. If you’re looking for new outdoor gear with a conscious, the recent Spring collection features over 20 products that are certified Fair Trade. The goal is to certify 80 percent of its products as fair trade by 2025. Check out the Spring Collection here
Adidas is going green with the help of Kermit the Frog. For over two decades Adidas has been listed in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index. From materials used to their efforts in ending Ocean plastics, the brand has been at the forefront of eco-collaborations. Five years ago, the brand partnered with Parley for the Oceans an ocean conservation group, to produce an array of products including the Primeblue and Primegreen lines, made from recycled sea waste.
In 2017, the Adidas x Parley partnership introduced the global movement, Run For The Oceans, to raise awareness around ocean plastic pollution. For every kilometer tracked within the Runtastic app during the challenge, $1 was contributed to fighting marine plastic, up to $1.5 million. This collaboration is one that continues to propel many of the brand’s eco-efforts.
In 2019, the brand collected the equivalent of 4.5 billion plastic bottles for its recycled apparel range. With Parley, they have a shared mission to use 100 recycled polyesters in their products by 2024 and reduce GHG emissions by 30 percent by 2030. The eco ‘Superstar,’ has introduced new products such as the Stan Smith Mylo, made from mushrooms, and the Yeezy Foam RNNR made from algae. Each pair of the Ultraboost trainers are also made from 100% recycled material (including 11 plastic bottles).
One of the Three Stripes’ most iconic sneakers, the always fresh Stan Smith, is being remixed with another classic: Kermit the Frog. This isn’t the first Adidas x Kermit collab we have seen. In 2006 and 2011, the brand released Kermit-esque kicks that were more cartoon than shoe for some sneaker lovers. This fresh take on a classic has been toned down, with a version adorned in Kermit, and another simplified take with lime green heel caps, a Kermit graphic on the upper, and the Muppet’s signature “It’s not easy being green” phrase stitched on the heel. The shoe is also made with 50% high-performance recycled materials.
If you’re looking for some green sneakers (pun intended), check out the Kermit the Frog x Stan Smith drop, made from the Primegreen materials.
It’s hard to talk about sustainability and eco-friendly initiatives without talking about the sneaker titan of all sneaker titans, Nike. In 2019 the brand launched the Move to Zero initiative, aimed towards a zero-carbon and zero-waste future.
Headlines of “Nike is Trash” flooded the ether last year following New York Fashion Week. We saw the brand debut its Space Hippie series among other offerings focused on using recycled materials. So, yes, Nike is trash technically, and we are ok with that.
By the year 2025, the brand aims to operate on 100 percent renewable energy. Additionally, it plans to divert 99 percent of all footwear manufacturing waste from landfills and use more than one billion plastic bottles per year to create uppers for Flyknit shoes and yarns for new jerseys. It really begs the question, what can’t Nike do? The Cosmic Unity is the latest to the Space Hippie line, with at least 25 percent of the entire shoe being made from reused materials. Highlights include the extra chunky Crater Foam midsole that’s crafted from GRIND rubber.
The North Face
To further its commitment to sustainability, outdoor apparel powerhouse The North Face has made new pledges aimed toward a greener future focusing on how and what they use to create products, giving gear a second life, and helping make sustainable shopping more transparent for customers.
Through three of its initiatives —the Renewed Collection, Clothes the Loop, and Lifetime Warranty — the clothing brand is pledging that 100 percent of its top materials used will come from recycled, regenerative or renewable sources by 2025, as well as eliminating all single-use plastic packaging.
By 2023, all of the brand’s polyester and 80 percent of its nylon fabrics will be made with recycled content. The plus side: shopping won’t require you to use a magnifying glass on the materials list. Sustainable shopping will be a breeze with the “Exploration Without Compromise” badge. Now, for apparel/equipment that is made with 75 percent or more recycled, organic, or renewable materials, products will be labeled with the badge.
Keeping up with the trend of secondhand and allowing its community to become an active part of their efforts, the brand will launch its own circular apparel line of some of its fan-favorite styles by Fall 2020. Starting on Earth Day, for the first time, consumers will be able to send in their own, lightly used The North Face apparel to become part of the Renewed program. Renewed is a collection of refurbished clothing – whether previously worn, returned, damaged or defective, that’s inspected, washed, and tuned up for its second life. Afterall, there’s nothing wrong with a comeback story.