Allbirds and Adidas to launch ‘the world’s most sustainable shoe’

Eco-shoe company Allbirds and international sports brand Adidas have teamed up to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint.

One startup, and one behemoth, Allbirds and Adidas have embarked upon a unique collaboration to develop a sustainable, high-performance, low-impact running sneaker. In a joint project, the footwear competitors have made it their mission to create a pair of athletic shoes with little-to-no carbon footprint by 2021.

The concept, which has been in the works for almost a year, aims to implement innovate supply-chain and manufacturing processes as well as the use of renewable material resources in order to set a new industry standard. A step closer to illustrating that sustainability, form, and function do not have to be mutually exclusive, the hope is that the shoe will be technical enough to eventually compete at the Olympics.

‘We don’t want to just participate in the sustainability conversation,’ says James Carnes, VP of adidas brand strategy. ‘We want to continue being catalysts and creators of substantial improvement, to influence industry practices forever.’ 

What both brands have in common, is their sheer dedication to reducing their environmental impact. With its Parley for the Oceans line, Adidas introduced recycled plastic to the mainstream and Allbirds has since brought natural, renewable resources like sugarcane and wool to the world of sports.

‘There is an urgent need to reduce our global carbon number, and this mission is bigger than just Allbirds or Adidas,’ adds CEO of Allbirds, Tim Brown. ‘Whether we realise it or not this is a race that we are all running together as a planet and it is one that trumps the day-to-day competition of individual companies. I am hopeful that this partnership will be an example for others to follow as we pursue a more sustainable, net zero carbon future.’

At the moment, the average running shoe has a carbon footprint of around 13.6kg CO2. The shoe that Allbirds and Adidas are currently working on will ideally have a dramatically reduced output of just 2kg or less. An ambitious goal indeed, but one with the potential to completely transform the future of footwear.

‘Getting to two kilograms is like running a two-minute mile,’ said Carnes. ‘It seems impossible, but that’s what gets us excited.’ Creating new products will never be good for the planet – production will always emit greenhouse gasses – but carrying out new strategies as Adidas has already done with its Futurecraft.Loop at least has the potential to minimise damage.

‘Our great hope is that this partnership will catalyse other people to share both their best ideas and research so that we can work together in the fight to live more sustainably,’ said Brown. ‘This is a problem that won’t be solved by one company alone.’

This is no easy task they’ve set out to complete, particularly in an industry renowned for its throwaway culture, but as technology continues to develop, Allbirds and Adidas are proving that this is only the beginning.

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