5 Ways Sneakers Are Becoming More Sustainable

The average consumer discards up to 70 pounds of clothing and shoes every year. Most of this waste ends up in landfills or incinerators. A number of footwear companies are working toward decreasing the environmental footprint of womens and mens shoes from manufacturing to disposal. Many sustainable styles are entering the market, including a wide selection of sneaker styles. Find out more about five sneaker sustainability trends.

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1. Reducing Waste
The production of waste starts with cast-off materials during the footwear manufacturing process. Several leading brands are transitioning to circular rather than linear production systems. Circular or closed-loop manufacturing involves the elimination of all waste products. 

In some cases, textile scraps or other left over materials such as rubber for outsoles or foam for midsoles are used to design new ladies footwear designs. These materials can also be scrapped to produce pellets that are ready to use to make more of the original style or be repurposed.

2. Recycled Materials
Several shoe companies have incorporated recycled materials into footwear for years. Rubber from tires or other sources have long been used to make the soles of women's white sneakers and other shoe styles. Other recycled materials such as plastic and textiles are increasingly being reused to design shoes that are more sustainable off of the manufacturing line.

3. Responsible Sourcing
In the past, leather sourcing for footwear rarely accounted for the conditions of production. Some brands have begun featuring leather from environmentally conscious gold-certified leather tanneries. 

Even vegan leather alternatives have often involved the use of toxic compounds such as aromatic amines, formaldehyde, harsh dyes and phthalates. Virgin plastics have also historically been used to make pleather and are often not recyclable at the end of the shoe lifespan. Sourcing real leather and vegan leather alternatives more responsibly make shoes better for the environment and safer for wearers.

4. Fair Trade Materials and Manufacturing
In addition to the quality of materials, the sustainability of shoes also depends on the treatment of workers throughout the supply chain. The production of leather, rubber and textiles and the manufacture of footwear under fair trade conditions may make finished products slightly more expensive, but the added expense goes a long way toward achieving sustainability.

5. Recyclable Designs
Shoes made out of recycled materials are more environmentally friendly than footwear made with virgin plastics, rubber and other new materials. Production is only one side of the sustainability equation. Shoes that can be recycled or are biodegradable at the end of the product lifespan helps to complete the cycle. 

Even if these materials are not directly repurposed into more shoes, reducing the number of worn out shoes in landfills and incinerators is a big step toward reducing the carbon footprint of sneakers.

Ongoing efforts to reduce waste in fashion and footwear extend from design and manufacturing to wear and disposal. On the production end, reusing materials, re-purposing byproducts and eliminating other sources of waste allows for more sustainable sneakers. Concerned consumers should seek out shoe brands and designs that are ethically made with recycled and recyclable materials.

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