Oh, the excitement of unwrapping a fresh pair of running shoes - so colorful, so clean, such perfect tread to support my tired road-tested feet. Those first few weeks in new shoes is like running on spring-loaded clouds, until inevitably, with slow, reliable progression, the tread wears down and I'm once again counting the months (or miles) until I'll allow myself the next new pair.
It's like clockwork, this cycle. What holds me up, always, is the reluctance to discard of old shoes - it is, in fact, entirely wasteful. When running lower mileage, I can make a pair last the better part of a year, sure - but higher mileage (especially with coupled with race training) speeds up that cycle, requiring at times (for me) 2-3 new pairs annually, with (ideally) 2 pairs in active rotation at a given time (to give my foot muscles some variety, and allow the shoes to recover between runs). Honestly, the shoe count is abhorrent.
Yes, there are donation programs for used sneakers, and yes, I've sent plenty of pairs down that path...but more often than not, my old shoes are close to decimated - not suitable for use. And, donated or not, shoes simply don't disappear when they die.
Enter (finally, at long last) an emerging generation of (much) more sustainable running shoes. Though, like any runner, I hesitate to fix what's not broken by subjecting my feet to a different brand of shoe, moving to a more environmentally responsible shoe is a no-brainer.
Adidas - Futurecraft Loop (2021 release)
Adidas has pledged to release a 100% recyclable running shoe by 2021, called Futurecraft Loop. This, my friends, is groundbreaking. This is the one to wait for, the shoe that - ideally - will send a signal to the entire industry that truly sustainable business and products are possible, profitable, and necessary. Read more about it, get excited.
And, while we wait for 2021 to arrive, a couple of runners-up to try in the meantime:
Adidas - Parley Collection
Made from plastic waste collected and recycled from ocean waters, this shoe collection feature 45 models. Ocean-sourced plastic represents is a major improvement over the former practice of working with "virgin" plastics, though it's not a perfect solution since shoe disposal still creates waste...for now.
Not new, but definitely notable, Allbirds Runners are available in 2 weights - wool and tree (eucalyptus). Allbirds is cool because its shoes are constructed with renewable resources, and they are committed to becoming a carbon-neutral company.
Have you tried these? Do you know of other sustainable running shoes on the market?