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Welcome to Startups. Every brand has its own “green initiative,” the mission to use sustainable or recycled materials in order to lower their carbon footprint on this planet. So, if you don’t have a company of your own, how can you help?
The footwear industry often overlooks Mother Nature’s materials in favor of cheaper, synthetic alternatives. Allbirds is a new shoe company from New Zealand (a country famous for its wool) that made its debut with their Wool Runners — a pair of shoes made from Merino wool and other sustainable or recycled materials.
While no shoes are beneficial to the environment – all products have at least some negative impact – Allbirds takes a sustainable approach in the materials used for its shoes. The Merino wool is considered a natural fiber and follows ethical standards, while the “Tree” fabric is made of Tencel Lyocell. It’s considered sustainable in the textiles industry because it uses less-toxic chemicals that are recycled in the production process, and the wood comes from trees in sustainably harvested forests. But it’s not just the use of Merino wool that is good for the planet: The brand released a new sole material called SweetFoam, derived from sustainably-grown Brazilian sugarcane instead of synthetic rubber, which can release harmful, potentially carcinogenic compounds into the environment. SweetFoam reduces the ecological footprint that is normally associated with mass-producing sneakers and is so effective that Allbirds has offered to share the technology with any shoemaker who asks for it.
Beyond the shoes’ construction, consumers admire their lack of superfluous packaging. Instead of getting boxes within boxes stuffed with tissue paper and packaging materials, Allbirds uses its shoe boxes as transportation boxes. This way, you only get one box, making online shopping a little bit better for the environment.
At around $95 for most men’s and women’s styles, these sneakers are not overly expensive, and reviewers said the shoes were worth the price. The best part is that the brand offers a free 30-day trial so you get a full refund if you don’t love them, even if they’ve been worn.