Sneakers are big business. In 2018, the global trainers market was valued at approximately US$58bn with a forecast of US$88bn by 2024. But this hype driven market is also incredibly wasteful.
Did you know that more than 23 billion pairs of sneakers are produced every year? Think of all the materials that go into making these sneakers, which on average will last us less than a year before they get tossed out and end up in landfill.
Sneakers have a high carbon footprint due to the materials used and the numerous manufacturing processes they go through to produce all the different components. They are shaped by energy-intensive processes such as injection moulding, foaming, and heating, and then bound together with environmentally damaging chemical solvents. Most new trainers are made from plastic, synthetic rubber, and other petroleum derived materials, not to mention leather.
More than 1 billion animals are killed around the world for the leather trade every year. From raising the cattle (resource intensive with a huge land and water footprint), to leather tanning—which involves numerous toxic chemicals resulting in water and soil pollution— leather comes at a high cost to humans, planet and animals. Much too high for a pair of sneakers which you will only toss out in a year.
As ethics and sustainability become ever pressing issues in fashion, sneakers are under increasing scrutiny. Here are eight brands that go the extra mile in sustainability and deliver great design, from technical runni