Meghan Markle’s a fan, and so is Reese Witherspoon. We’re not talking about a green juice you can only buy in LA, but sustainable trainers. Yesterday, Reese posted a stoop selfie wearing a sweet floral dress from Draper James and white trainers from Tretorn. The Swedish outdoors brand is the second oldest sneaker manufacturer in the world, and its entire trainer range is part of its Eco Essentials Initiative.
There’s never been a better time to follow Reese's lead because the environmental impact of the footwear industry is staggering. Of the 20 billion pairs of shoes produced globally each year, 95% ends up in landfill sites. Thankfully, plenty of businesses are making strides to lower their carbon footprint.
Superga launched an organic cotton collection this month, with three trainer styles where every element has been considered from an eco-friendly angle. Its upper composition is made from a blend of organic cotton (60%) and natural hemp (40%), its insoles are made from natural cork and its sole is natural rubber extracted from forests in Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand. Lacoste has also launched its first sustainably-minded sneaker. Inspired by its vintage sportswear archive, the Gripshot has a cotton canvas upper and a recycled rubber outsole.
Keep scrolling to discover - and shop - from the best sustainable trainer brands.
adidas Originals 'Stan Smith, Forever'
For over half a century, the Stan Smith remained fundamentally untouched and is now more sustainable as the brand is committed to end plastic waste by 2050.
A new touchstone in the brand’s journey to help End Plastic Waste, the next generation of the Stan Smith are composed of white PRIMEGREEN uppers, a series of high-performance recycles materials and white recycled rubber outsoles. Check them out here.
Not only does everyone on the tube wear them - so too does the Duchess of Sussex. Veja buys organic cotton directly from family producers in Brazil, cutting out the middleman and thereby increasing their incomes, and has preserved 120,000 hectares of the Amazon rainforest since 2004 by purchasing 195 tons of wild rubber.
Allbirds is a 100% carbon neutral business - and its trainers feel like you’re walking on clouds thanks to superfine merino wool. This resource, processed using 60% less energy than materials in synthetic shoes, is used alongside recycled bottles (for laces) and caster bean oil (for soles) and engineered polymer Bio-TPU (for eyelets).
Its Dasher shoe is the brand's first step into the performance category. A revolutionary running shoe, the Dasher is powered by renewable natural materials and will be the first Allbirds product to display a physical Carbon Count label. The Dasher emits 9kg of CO2e per pair, nearly 30% lower than the estimated average trainer. Running never felt so good.
Everlane, the e-commerce website committed to transparency, makes trainers that use recycled and natural rubber in its soles, which are 94.2% free of virgin plastic, leather from a gold-certified tannery, using 47% less electricity and 62% less water, and recycled plastic bottles to make laces and linings.
The name ‘Po Zu’ stems from the Japanese phrase, ‘to pause’, and the go-slower ethos is central to the brand’s business plan. As well as being built-to-last - halting the worrying statistic that each of us contribute three pairs of shoes to landfill per year - their trainers use a mix of responsibly-harvested renewable materials (flax, coconut husk, pineapple leaf fibres, natural latex, unbleached wool, organic cotton, cork etc) and are manufactured without the toxic solvents you find in many shoes.
adidas by Stella McCartney
Stella McCartney is brilliant at finding innovative textile companies to collaborate with - and her range of adidas trainers is no different. Her Ultraboost 20 Shoes, which come in pleasingly kapow shades, are made using Parley Ocean Plastic, an organisation which salvages plastic from beaches at the crucial stage before it enters the sea.
Good News’ sweet checked and candy-coloured baseball-style sneakers are made using circular initiatives, hence the curved line around its logo. The Juice Neon Check hi-top has an organic cotton upper and laces, an outsole made from 20% vulcanised recycled rubber and recycled metal eyelets.
As the second oldest sneaker manufacturer in the world, Tretorn has form, especially in the tennis sneaker arena. In 2016, it launched its Eco Essentials Initiative, which underpins everything it makes with the mantra, ‘products should last long, be reused and eventually recycled’. From 2019, all its sneakers were included in the initiative. They only use carefully-selected natural rubber plantations and eco-suede suppliers with water-reduction programs and chemical restrictions.
Yatay, who prides itself on its Made-In-Italy credentials, plants a tree for every pair of trainers bought, involving its customer by asking them to enter the unique code printed on the back of their newly-bought trainers into its website to both choose the tree and monitor its growth. It also uses some unexpected materials in its shoes, from cereals (or ‘bio-polyols’, the polymers extracted from cereals), tree pulp, recycled rubber from old tyres and recycled plastic.
Designed in Spain, and made in Portugal, SAYE is proud to be an entirely Europe-based operation. It’s big on transparency - publishing the wages of its factory workers on its website, as well as its overtime policy - and uses a combination of genuine leather (although it hopes to use recycled materials in the future) organic cotton, natural (and some synthetic) rubber and recycled polyurethane foam to makes its retro-inspired sneakers.