Sneaker Companies Going Green in 2021 | Kicks Guru

Sneaker Companies Going Green in 2021 | Kicks Guru

The sneaker market is bigger than ever as we head deeper into 2021, but the dark side of its success is staggering waste. Most new sneakers use rubber, petroleum, and virgin plastic – this generates alarming amounts of carbon dioxide. Additionally, roughly 300 million pairs of shoes are thrown out every year on average; because sneakers take at least 30-40 years to completely decompose in a landfill, any discarded pair contributes to excess global waste. 

In the past, most shoppers bought and discarded new sneakers without much thought about how they were made – however, the consumers of 2021 are more likely to take notice. Educated sneaker lovers want to buy products that are made as sustainably and responsibly as possible. Some leading sneaker brands are beginning to take notice of this trend. We have compiled a list of several brands that are using innovative, eco-friendly materials along sustainable production methods into 2021. 


Nike has pushed the boundaries of sporting footwear for decades and remains at the forefront of the industry in terms of innovation. While the company has always prioritized performance over anything else, in recent years it has shown a focus on sustainability as well. From 2010-2018, Nike transformed 6.4 billion plastic water bottles into recycled footwear or apparel, and in 2018, the company received recognition from Textile Exchange for its sixth straight year of using the most recycled polyester. In 2020, Nike took an additional step in its commitment to sustainability by incorporating recycled rubber on midsoles and outsoles of all kinds of products. In total, the brand has nearly 900 products available that are made from at least 20% recycled materials. 2021 promises to show even more innovation! 

Converse Renew

While it’s responsible for the iconic Chuck Taylor All-Stars, Converse has proven that it can look to the future. The company’s Renew collection uses 100% recycled plastic bottles to make up their canvas uppers, showing Converse’s commitment to produce more responsibly. Shoes from the Renew collection are fully customizable and available for all sizes. 

Adidas x Parley

Starting in 2015, Adidas has partnered with environmental organization Parley for the Oceans to launch products that incorporate recycled ocean plastic. In 2020, Adidas made more than 20 million pairs of sneakers using plastic that Parley recycles from the ocean. This was a major increase from 11 million pairs in 2019 and 5 million in 2018. It remains to be seen how this trend will continue in 2021!

Everlane’s Tread

While most of the sustainable sneaker market is focused around recycled knits, Tread by Everlane is a great option for anyone who is looking for a leather shoe. With 94.2% non-virgin plastic soles, laces and linings made from recycled plastic bottles, and leather that has been sourced from the world’s cleanest tannery, this collection is marketed as one of the world’s lowest-impact sneakers. The Tread collection sports a minimalist, retro look that will never go out of style, even if you wear yours for the rest of 2021! 

Nothing New

Nothing New was founded in 2019 and has already made great strides in the sustainable sneaker industry. The company’s stated goal is to use only recyclable materials in the name of responsible manufacturing. The upper is made completely from 100% recycled plastic, while its other components use recycled fishing nets, rubber, cork, and cotton. Nothing New also offers a $20 discount on a new pair for anyone who sends back their used sneakers. If possible, the company will clean and donate them or break them down and use the recycled materials back into their collection. 

Plenty of Options

If you’re looking for a sustainable and fashionable sneaker option in 2021, there are plenty of choices out there. Wear your stylish new footwear while feeling good about your support of responsible practices!


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