Allbirds already uses wool extensively its shoes. Shoelaces are made from 100% recycled polyester while eyelets are made from biobased plastics. In addition, the company’s “skipper” style shoes use castor bean oil in the insole.
“Our tree fibers are sourced from South African farms that minimize fertilizer and rely on rainfall, not irrigation,” Allbirds says. “Compared to traditional materials like cotton, it uses 95% less water and cuts our carbon footprint in half.”
According to Qrius, the sneaker industry is valued at $62 billion and is expected to hit $90 billion by 2022. The sneaker industry’s environmental footprint is quite large, however. According to Massachusetts Institute of Technology, manufacturing one pair sneakers generates 13.6 kg of carbon dioxide. This is largely due to the industry’s manufacturing base in China, which uses coal to generate electricity.