Sustainable Running Shoes by team-up of Adidas & Allbirds

When we talk about Sports, Running, in particular, doesn’t create much Carbon Footprint. It is very small when compared to Digital Carbon Footprint or from Transportation etc.

But it still creates a small mark. All carbon emissions that occur due to a running shoe lies mainly in the process of manufacturing. According to a team led by Randolph Kirchain, in 2013 who is the principal research scientist at MIT’s Materials Systems Laboratory, along with research scientist Elsa Olivetti found that making one pair of such shoes releases about 14 Kilograms of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Different types of shoes have different levels of carbon emissions.

The famous shoe company, Allbirds changed the manufacturing landscape with the introduction of their signature sneaker in 2016 by introducing the use of eco-friendly materials and exercising little steps to reduce the environmental impact of shipping, like cutting down on the process of packaging, they developed a method that generates about a third less carbon emissions than the standard process for producing a performance sneaker.

Recently, Allbirds announced that they have collaborated with the apparel giant Adidas that has provided us with a new shoe, and the collaboration is the latest entry in Adidas’ Futurecraft line of very advanced apparel. The new Futurecraft.Footprint is a high-performance running shoe with a smaller environmental impact. And as the companies’ estimation, its manufacturing process emits an exceptionally low 2.94 kilograms of carbon dioxide.

This new shoe from the Adidas-Allbirds collaboration comes only in white colour as the dyeing process can be detrimental to the environment.

Allbirds and Adidas reevaluated the entire process of manufacturing which took under 12 months, reimagined materials, manufacturing techniques and packaging to reach the lowest possible footprint without jeopardising the performance. For example, the midsole compound, which is based on the Adidas’ Lightstrike, has been reimagined with Allbird’s sugarcane-based SweetFoam, giving a low-carbon natural component. The new shoe’s upper portion is a mesh made from 70 percent recycled polyester and 30 percent Tencel, a cellulose fibre made from wood pulp.

“A huge part of the process was reducing weight,” says Sam Handy, Adidas’ vice president of design and running. “Weight has an enormous impact, through shipping, materials, and carbon input in the production.”

In addition to exchanging out the materials, the companies changed the design of the shoe to support the foot without the addition of extra material. For example, rather than stitching extra panels to strengthen the shoe’s upper portion, they simply used stitching that winds around the upper, which strengthened the toe, arch, and heel.

Where another running shoe might have internal running support in the heel, we’ve been able to do it with the directionality of the embroidery,” says Jad Finck, Allbirds’ vice president of innovation and sustainability. “We’re eliminating an extra piece but finding another way to build it into the fabric of the shoe.”

The Futurecraft.Footprint has been performance-tested to Adidas’ quality standards with their existing athletes. Prototypes will be rolling out soon but they are planning to provide them to its athletes as a training shoe in advance of the Summer Olympics to be held in Tokyo.

The initial launch will be made in the end of May with a raffle of 100 pairs to Adidas creators club members, and the public release may be made during the last months of 2021. The company says we can expect them to cost about as much as a regular Allbirds or Adidas running shoe, but beyond that, no exact pricing details have been released.

The most interesting thing about the Futurecraft.Footprint is how fast the companies have taken on searching different projects to address the issue of sustainability and climate change. Even the mark denoting the weight “2.94 kg” written on the side of the shoe is made by hand, which makes the person wearing it accountable.

It is such a blessing to the world that such big companies rather than being competitors have become collaborators, which is an idea most businesses would scoff at but yet Adidas and Allbirds have done so because there exists a sense of awareness, that overcoming the sustainability issue will not be easy if we do not work together.

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