How to Go Green With Silv: Running Green by Silvia Milanova, September 12 2010, 0 Comments

Photo courtesy of brett lohmeyer via Flickr. 

Running shoes are very important when it comes to being comfortable during a long run. But what if you can do more than just slip into a nice pair of sneaks, and improve your run by donning an eco-friendly pair, knowing that your footprint in the world will be a little less noticeable? Well, now you can! Recently, two of the major running shoe brands, Brooks and New Balance, have come up with ways to make sneakers more environmentally friendly, while keeping them looking stylish. Nike on the other hand, although not yet producing "green" shoes, has expanded its efforts to reusing old shoes by literally grinding them up. 

Brooks, one of the most well known running shoe companies, has designed a sneaker made from 75 percent post-consumer recycled materials. The “Green Silence,” a racing flat, features Brooks’ signature midsole made with BioMoGo, which can biodegrade in roughly 20 years, or 50 times faster than the conventional athletic shoe midsole. All dyes and colorants are also non-toxic, and Brooks has manufactured the laces and packaging from 100 percent post-consumer recycled materials. Talk about going green all the way… 

The company has also incorporated its BioMoGo technology into most of its other sneakers as well. Customers can find anything from a neutral to a motion control shoe, depending on their stability needs, that is made with BioMoGo. Available for both men and women, unless stated otherwise, these are some of Brooks’ best-sellers:
  • Neutral: Glycerin 8 - Runner’s World Editor’s Choice, Defyance 3, Ghost 3 (Men only) 
  • Supportive: Trance 9, Adrenaline GTS 10 – Runner’s World Best Update (from the GTS 9) 
  • Motion Control: Addiction 9 

However, not to finish last in the environmentally-friendly race, New Balance is following Brooks’ example and going greener. The company has created its first “green” trail shoe, the New Balance 70, as part of its new "eco-preferred" collection. The upper components of the sneaker are made with 75 percent natural and recycled materials, while all of its different parts are bound with water-based adhesives. The outsole also features a rice husk fill, which decreases the amount of rubber used to produce the shoe. 

New Balance’s footwear goal is to increase its use of Environmentally Preferred Materials (EPMs). The company strives to make polyester meshes, linings and shoelaces with a minimum of 25 percent recycled polyester content. Leather tanneries must also meet “tannery assessment for superior environmental performance.” 

Both companies stuff, package and send their shoes in boxes and cartons made from 100 percent recycled materials (which are also 100 percent recyclable). Their green efforts can certainly make customers more at ease with leaving a lesser carbon footprint on the planet.

But what if a company is going green not by designing new shoes, but by reusing old ones? Well, Nike is doing just that. Through its ReUse-a-Shoe program, Nike is collecting old shoes, separating them into three parts - rubber from the outsole, foam from the midsole and fabric fibers from the upper components—grinding them together (Nike Grind) with some pre-consumer materials, such as manufacturing scrap and other flawed sneakers, and turning them into usable athletic surfaces. 

These playing fields may include tennis or basketball courts, indoor and outdoor running tracks and even playgrounds. Some of the Nike Grind is even turned into materials used in new shoes and apparel, such as the zipper on a hoodie. Using Nike Grind in these surfaces decreases the need to produce new rubber and other materials, and is also more eco-friendly than using other recycled products like tire rubber. The new surfaces usually contain anywhere from 10 to 40 percent Nike Grind. Since 1990, Nike has collected and reused 25,056,779 pairs of shoes.

If you're thinking about throwing an old pair of shoes in the garbage can, stop and rethink. Those shoes can someday become the 25,056,780th pair that go into making Nike Grind, which will eventually turn into a brand new athletic surface. Their life will be extended by a mile, instead of ending somewhere among the garbage in a landfill. So, rethink and reuse; the environment will thank you.

Click here to find shoe drop-off locations.