Have these 4 sneaker brands cracked the sustainability code?
Leave actual footprints rather than carbon footprints — delve into our editor of sustainability's top tips for sustainable runners.
8 Oct 2020

With over 23 billion pairs of sneakers being produced every year, the sneaker industry is bigger than ever. What many consumers miss during their search for a new pair, is that the industry is also one of the least evolved lifestyle sectors in regard to sustainability. Over 300 million pairs of sneakers are being thrown out annually to landfill, and, a lot of brands still think that fast-paced hyped drops, low price points, and quick growth is the key to success within a highly competitive sneaker world. 

In the past, most consumers would not have thought much about exactly how their sneakers were made, but that is no longer the case. In addition to demanding trend-setting styles, co-labs, and innovations, the educated consumers of today expect products to be made responsibly.

And as consumers become more educated about environmental issues, brands also become more incentive to sustainable innovation. Below you’ll find four brands that are trying to set a new standard, and, crack the sustainability code, by making sneakers with innovative, eco-friendly materials and more sustainable production methods and kick-ass afterlife programs.

And it is performance runners made by Swedish Icebug, ON running, Salomon, and Reebok that is running for change. These are your new go-to runners/sneakers.

Reebok Forever Floatride GROW 

Real plant-based performance 

— The earth is a runner’s arena, and we have a responsibility to help detox the world for the athletes who run in it, said Matt O’Toole, Reebok Brand President.

— Our consumers have told us they want more sustainable products, and the running community has been the most vocal and passionate on this issue. We want to help runners perform at their best, while also feeling good about the products they wear.

Ingredient list: 

Castor Beans: Energy return and lightweight

One of the best parts of the shoe is its highly cushioned, responsive midsole, which is built from sustainably grown castor beans. 

Eucalyptus bark: Breathability

The eucalyptus tree upper is mesh, naturally biodegradable, and strong.

Bloom algae: Comfortable cushioning

The sockliner utilizes bloom algae foam to provide a comfortable footbed. The algae is also naturally odor-resistant.

Natural rubber outsole: Flexible and durable

The natural rubber outsole gives flexible traction and durability. It’s sustainably sourced from real rubber trees, rather than the petroleum-based rubber featured in other performance products.

Icebug Outrun RB9X

Scale down the unnecessary, scale up sustainability

— OutRun RB9X combines the best of two worlds. It has the traction and ground control needed for technical trails but at the same time extraordinary amounts of comfort, which makes it easy to use for several hours of running. OutRun is a great addition to the Icebug shoe family, says Karin Möller, creative director and head of design at Icebug.

One of the highlights from the Swedish brand Icebug is the Outrun RB9X®. Outrun is Scandinavian design made with simplicity in mind. No added polyurethane pieces, big foam prints, or unnecessary solutions. Everything added has a function. By choosing a greener factory with solar panels, more sustainable materials, and overcompensating for their carbon emissions to get a climate positive shoe, Icebug has created a real sustainable trail running shoe.

Salomon Index01

A running shoe designed for after life  

— Salomon’s unique expertise across multiple sports categories, coupled with a passion for the environment has led to the development of this exciting new shoe, Michael White, the company’s president, said in a statement.

— When the Salomon Index.01 was presented internally, the audience burst into spontaneous applause as the dream of a performance Salomon running shoe that is fully recyclable became reality.

The Salomon Index01 is the result of 3 years of research and development at Salomon’s Annecy Design Center in the French Alps. The goal of the project is to reduce material waste and lessen the environmental impact of footwear by using circular lifecycle principles. The result is a shoe made of two primary materials: recycled polyester and nitrogen-infused, thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) foam called INFINIRIDE. At the end of its life, regional recycling programs disassemble the recycled polyester upper and the TPU bottom unit to be recycled again.

ON-running Cyklon 

The running shoe you will never own 

— The Cyclon service is a groundbreaking new way to become more sustainable, while also ensuring the running performance is never compromised for our customers, On co-founder Caspar Coppetti, said in a statement.

— Customers who sign-up today will be the first ones to get the latest in sustainable running technology.

ON has launched a sustainable, subscription-based running shoe initiative dubbed Cyklon that’s centered around a recyclable silhouette of the same name. Now the Swiss footwear company is looking to break new ground with the earth-first inatitive.

Customers can sign up for Cyclon subscription service at A deposit of $29.99 USD is required for entry, and the Cyclon running shoe will be available exclusively via the service in the latter half of 2021.