Green sneaker pioneer Allbirds calls for more investment in natural materials

June 21, 2021 |

In California,  eco-friendly sneaker brand Allbirds is calling for more investment and innovation in natural materials. In an interview with design publication dezeen, the company’s head of sustainability says efforts to reduce carbon emissions in the sneaker industry are being hampered by the shortfall. 

“We lament how natural materials maybe don’t perform as well as synthetics,” says Hana Kajimura. “But this is just because of the lack of investment and innovation in this space.”

The company recently began a collaboration with Adidas for Futurecraft.Footprint, which, at 2.94 kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent, is believed to be the best carbon profile in the sneaker business.  Nike’s lowest-carbon trainer comes in a 3.7 kg CO2e, and an average sneaker falls around 

13.6 kilograms of CO2e. 

“We’ve been innovating on synthetics for decades, since the 1800s when we discovered and started drilling for oil,” Kajimura says. “And we just haven’t placed that same amount of investment on natural materials and really figuring out how to increase their performance.”

Natural materials in Futurecraft.Footprint include Tencel fiber from wood pulp, natural fibers, and plastic made from sugarcane. Certain parts of the shoe had to remain petroleum-based because of the high performance standards for athletic trainers. “We want to have a shoe that allows runners to perform to their highest level,” Senior Adidas designer Florence Rohart says.  “So having good durability, good responsiveness, [a structure that is] lightweight but strong enough – these are elements of designing for performance that define how low we can go.”

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Category: Chemicals & Materials

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