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Environmentally Unfriendly: Do we stop buying trainers altogether? "Not likely!"

Updated: Sep 1, 2021

Article Review:

Toxic trainers: Is this the real reason our planet is in crisis?


Sarah Adomakoh, Founder & Principal


Very few people realise that the mass production of beautifully designed sneakers puts them just behind aviation and shipping in terms of global emissions.” Says Senior Green Scientist, Angela Terry.

This is a very thorough, thought- provoking and interesting article by Sam Carlisle. To stop buying trainers may be extreme, but what can we do to address this urgent issue?

The Footwear industry is one of the largest markets globally. UK, US and China at the top of the list of consumers. The article highlights many tangible and intangible ways footwear production and over-consumption contributes to carbon emissions and land and sea pollution in eye/opening ways.

Even well meaning responsible consumers will never agree to stop the purchase of trainers altogether. Comfort fit and supportive trainers deliver health, fitness and injury prevention benefits, while the trainers fancy designs promote feel good, look good, trendsetting practices in which buying one trainer is not enough for some, leading to a responsive rise in trainer production.

How are companies like Nike, Adidas, Sketchers,Vans,Converse Yeezy Gap tackling this challenge?

There are emerging successful green practices by new players like Hylo co-founded by former Premier League footballer Michael Doughty Edward Temperley co-founder of WAES FOOTWEAR. Plus learnings and insights from like-minded consultants like Angela Terry, Jemma Finch, Ligaya Salazar, member platforms like Business Partnerships Platform and UN Global Compact Network UK

Let’s promote conversation and take action with our feet!

1. Derive better estimates of real environmental direct and indirect impact of production and consumption on planet and People. Significant profit is clearly being made even for companies with the tiniest market share that purchase footwear produced through cheapest labor costs, most polluting and fastest low cost production and delivery methods.

2. Advocate on reducing how many trainers we buy a year. For there are customers of all generations with every colour of trainer for every one of their casual colour themes, then they purchase more: same colour - different style. An example of an aspect of our human behavior and advances in satisfaction seeking and self gratification that could do with backtracking to basics, to some degree?

3. Join the push on footwear producers to deliver sustainable brands and reduce production of toxic products.

4. Reduce consumption by customer segments e.g kids, whose feet grow rapidly and require different training shoes for different sports. A past LinkedIn post by Philipp Schoeffmann highlights open toed shoes that grow! Can such innovation on trainers slow down consumption?

Photo by Metro publishing, author Sam Carlisle

Photo by Metro publishers and author Sam Carlisle


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