With the public’s burgeoning concern about companies and their impact on the environment, Reebok is showing the public that their listening. It was only a matter of time one of the popular sneaker brands experimented with more eco-friendly alternatives to the materials we typically find in our sports shoes.
Reebok stepped up to the challenge. They’re introducing the world’s first plant-based performance shoe, the Forever Floatride GROW. It’s made from plants, eliminating the need to produce petroleum-based plastics for their footwear. And seeing as how specialized a performance-based sneaker needs to be to meet tough physical requirements, it’s quite a feat that they’ve managed to pull it off.
Plant-Based and Compromise Free
The standard for making performance sports shoes is to almost exclusively use synthetic materials, such as plastic that comes from a petroleum base. This means their recyclability is limited and the materials themselves are not made to be especially long-lasting, so are likely to end up as landfill waste in a few short years. And especially with running shoes, the wearer is encouraged to replace them after a certain amount of mileage, reducing their lifespan further.
Bill McInnis, Vice President of Reebok Future said: “With Forever Floatride GROW, we’re replacing oil-based plastic with plants,” adding that their biggest challenge lies in “developing plant-based materials that could meet the high-performance needs of runners.” He goes on: “During the three years we spent developing this product, we heard loud and clear that the idea of a plant-based running shoe resonates strongly with serious runners.” He insists, however, that the Forever Floatride GROW has met their standards as they would “never compromise on performance.”
Components of the Eco-Shoe
Four natural materials have been highlighted by the company in particular, the first being castor beans, sustainably sourced, that make up the midsole. They insist that it “maintains the high performance and lightweight cushioning standard.” Eucalyptus tree has been used for the upper section due to its breathability and strength, as well as its biodegradability.
You can expect algae foam for the sock lining, which is naturally odor-resistant and sourced from areas that have naturally-occurring “invasive growth”. And finally, natural rubber is used for the outer sole of the shoe. Unlike its petroleum counterpart, it comes from a rubber tree and eliminates the need to engage with more toxic materials.
Developing a Conscience
Reebok’s Brand President Matt O’Toole explained more about the vision behind this footwear first: “We have a responsibility to help detox the world for the athletes who run in it.” And they’re trying to make it as fool-proof as possible: “We have taken an award-winning running shoe, the Forever Floatride Energy, and reinvented it using natural materials to create what we feel is the most sustainable performance running shoe on the market.”
It makes sense. With the booming success of ecological sneaker brand Veja due to growing public concern for the environment, there is a clear direction that brands need to start moving towards. “Our consumers have told us they want more sustainable products, and the running community has been the most vocal and passionate regarding this issue,” O’Toole revealed. Here’s hoping this precedent brings more innovative solutions to the market.