Here at Input, we've made a habit of covering more sustainable sneakers and fashion. The move toward environmentally friendly production is more than just a trend, it's a necessary development for an industry that produces voluminous waste. But sustainability doesn't end there — it's also important for consumers to stop purchasing more than they need, wearing what they have for longer, and putting used goods either up for recycling or reuse. Doing this could help avoid $460 million in new clothing sales each year.
Therein lies the paradox of sustainability. While brands are getting more responsible with what they make, they're still just putting out more goods for consumption. If consumer habits don't change, purchasing more sustainability sourced goods at the same rate only marginally eats away at the problem.
That's why you shouldn't purchase any of the sustainable sneakers we're listing here unless you really need them. Buying them instead of shoes produced by standard practices is a net improvement, but buying nothing at all is the most responsible decision. So we urge you to think before you buy while putting more environmentally friendly options in front of you.
Nike Air VaporMax 2020 FK ($220)
Nike's brand-spankin' new Air VaporMax is made of 50 percent recycled materials. That benchmark has been reached with a 75-percent recycled Air unit, 67-percent post-industrial Flyknit yarn, and a tongue made from 80-percent recycled foam. It'll also feel less like cleats while walking than previous VaporMaxes because of a full-length, lower-profile Air unit in the midsole.
Adidas 4D Parley ($200)
Out of the footwear giants, Adidas is the leader in sustainable practices thanks to its long-running partnership with Parley. Here, the brand's 3D-printed soles are combined with Parley's recycled ocean plastics in a wavy knit inspired by the very first Parley Adidas.
Stella McCartney Loop ($414)
Stella McCartney has been committed to sustainable footwear since 2012, when it began using recycled polyester and repurposing plastic waste. These chunky sneakers were produced without using any glue, and if the stitching is removed they can be fully deconstructed and recycled. They're also on sale, down from $690.
Converse Renew Cotton Chuck Taylor All Star ($60)
Converse's Renew Cotton program includes a wide range of Chucks, and my favorite are these seafoam green joints. If this isn't the color for you, consider making your own with Converse's customization platform.
Yeezy Foam Runner (Price varies by size)
I'm hesitant to put money in Kanye West's pockets given just about everything that's come out of his mouth since the 2016 election. But that can be rationalized by buying the Foam Runner on the resale market, as the sell out has already given him as much money as he'll get from the release. Prices are a little steep, but it's well worth it for a funky sandal made in part with harvested algae.
Reebok Classic Leather ($75)
The timeless Classic Leather has been revamped using recycled leather under Reebok's [Ree]cycled program. An Earth graphic on the tongue nods to its more sustainable construction, but apart from that, you won't be able to tell it from any other Classic Leather.
Adidas Continental 80 Vegan ($80)
Adidas also gave one of its affordable, old school silhouettes an eco-friendly makeover. This Continental 80 is made of vegan leather with an algae-based EVA foam midsole that helps clean at least 30 liters of polluted lake water per pair.
Veja x Rick Owens Venturi (~$260)
Veja focuses on sustainability with all of its sneakers, but only these are made with the dark lord Rick Owens. The brand not only makes bio-based midsoles and uses organic and recycled materials, it also pays its cotton growers and rubber tappers between 30 percent and 100 percent more than the standard world market price.
Reebok Zig Kinetica ($120)
Also coming out of Reebok's [Ree]cycled program is its Zig Kinetica trainer made with recycled polyester. The blue and green gradient calls the earth to mind, and it looks pretty sharp, too.
Adidas Ultra Boost 20 ($180)
Adidas' game-changing Ultra Boost line has gone sustainable as a baseline with the Ultra Boost 20. The latest model features a PrimeBlue upper, made from Parley ocean plastic. With a pledge to eliminate all virgin polyester use by 2024, Adidas is shedding Parley naming from many of its products as it seeks to make the sourcing standard.