Is eco-friendly the casual footwear of choice this Fall?

For years, the environmental impact of your sneakers was handled almost exclusively on the back end. Programs like Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe still collect those worn, stinky sneaks and turn them into products ranging from play court surfaces to soles for more shoes. While the company that spent much of the 90s getting hammered for its poor responsibility record has led the way in these efforts, others shoe makers are following suit – and even taking some more innovative steps.

While I don’t know if we can declare this Fall the season of the eco-friendly athletic shoe, a number of companies have announced products that fit the bill.

  • The Puma Re-Suede: The cool footwear for 80s hip-hoppers and the 90s alt scene has been re-envisioned for the green (and even vegan) crowd. Puma quietly announced the Re-Suede in mid-September, and even though you can’t buy it yet (or even find it on their web site), it’s gotten a ton of attention in the green blogosphere (just search it on Google and you’ll see what I mean). The new sneaker’s “suede” is made from 100% recycled polyester fibers, and the outsole replaces some of the rubber with rice husks. The shoe will be packaged in the company’s Clever Little Bag.
  • The New Balance newSKY: New Balance already has a ton of cred in the progressive community for still making shoes in the United States – the only athletic shoe company doing so. They’re adding to that with the release of the newSKY. As with the Puma shoe, the newSKY’s upper will be made from polyester manufactured from 95% PET plastic bottles. The only downside I see at this point are color choices: either grey with really bright accents, or grey with really dull accents. The newSKY will be available this month.
  • The OAT Limited Skin: When this Dutch boutique shoemaker says “limited,” they mean it; They’re only making 360 pairs. The uppers are made from leather (sorry, vegans), but it’s been processed in a manner that make it completely biodegradable, so you can bury them and they’ll break down completely (it doesn’t look like they sprout flowers like the company’s Virgin collection, though). You’ll definitely be the only kid on the block with a pair of these, but at €199.00, you’ll pay for the privilege (though who knows what will happen to the Euro this month).

These models join existing ones like Brooks’ Green Silence, Nike’s Considered Design products and Adbuster’s Blackspot.

Got your eye on any of these new shoes? Already got a favorite model of green athletic shoes? Let us know.


Image credit: Puma