Cool Ways Brands Are Making Shoes More Eco-Friendly (And How to Recycle Yours)

Shoes tossed in the trash go straight to a landfill, where they can take decades to break down. Check out how some brands are combating the problem of shoe waste using unique, eco-friendly production methods.

Creating Reusable Styles

Adidas is taking recycling to a new level with its Futurecraft Loop shoes. Made entirely from thermoplastic polyurethane, these athletic sneakers can still have a new life even after taking a beating from your toughest workouts.

The shoe is slated for wide release in 2021, and once it hits the market, Adidas will accept used pairs from customers and recycle them for another round of production. In the future, the company hopes to create a zero-waste process by reaching “the ideal of 1:1 product circularity” with Loop.


You can “start a MOVMT” with shoes from The People’s Movement, a brand committed to getting plastic garbage out of the oceans. The fabrics in the upper part of many of the company’s shoes are made using old plastic bags that were collected from around Bali, which are paired with other eco-friendly materials like organic cotton and natural dyes.

Committing to Natural

Allbirds creates shoes with minimal impact on the environment by relying on materials grown and raised using methods designed to reduce the consumption of water and energy. Their designs feature merino wool, recycled bottles, and sugarcane and come packaged in recycled cardboard boxes.

“Degumming” the Streets

In the Netherlands, about 1.5 million kilos of gum winds up stuck to roads every year. That’s over 3 million pounds!

Enter the “Gumshoe,” a shoe with soles made from recycled gum. The shoe was envisioned and created by a handful of companies in the Netherlands, including Gumdrop, makers of Gum-tech, the rubber-like material crafted from gum collected off the streets.

Ready to Recycle Your Old Shoes?

Even if your shoes didn’t start off eco-friendly, you can still show some love to the planet by recycling them once they hit the end of their wearable life cycle. Look for:

• Local charities accepting shoe donations
• Athletic shoe donation and recycling programs
• Shoe stores collecting old pairs for recycling
• Creative craft ideas using repurposed shoes

If you’re feeling enterprising, a GotSneakers shoe drive is another great way to give old kicks a new life. Invite friends, family members, and neighbors to contribute their gently used pairs instead of throwing them away, and support the ongoing cycle of sustainability.


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