Sustainable innovations: Adidas and Allbirds unveil low-carbon-footprint sneaker

Sustainable Innovations are driving the future of fashion.

You would be hard-pressed to find a global brand that doesn’t have sustainability as a top-line priority in their outlook strategy. The combination of the rising urgency of climate change and consumer demand has driven companies to take meaningful action.

Streamlining sustainable innovation

Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen announcements from industry leaders outlining their goals and initiatives. As these goals turn into projects we’ve seen something new take shape, a rise in information sharing. Brands are actively sharing their progress, learnings and innovations as they move through these uncharted waters.

With each action towards a more conscious industry comes a wealth of knowledge. This gives a unique opportunity for not only the innovators themselves to build upon their findings but for all of us. By sharing with and learning from others we can streamline positive disruption across the fashion industry.

Even if brands aren’t outlining every detail of their processes or releasing open-sourced versions of their projects, there are always learnings to take away. Recently Adidas and Allbirds announced their collaborative project “Futurecraft Footprint.”

Their co-created project resulted in a performance shoe with the lowest carbon footprint ever made. The sneaker clocks in under 3kg of carbon per pair, whereas the average is just under 14 kg per pair.

With the announcement, the brands shared generously about how they were able to go from idea to reality. While the shoe itself won’t be commercially available until 2022, there are takeaways that others can already start learning from today.

The Key To Sustainable Innovation: Co-Creation

While making a performance shoe with a footprint under 3kg is a feat in and of itself, it’s not the only bold move the brands made. The sole act of co-creating with a competitor was a step out of fashion’s usual comfort zone. In doing so the brands admitted that they were good at what they do but that they lacked what the other had. In Adidas’s case they had the know-how to make top-notch performance shoes, and for Allbirds making low footprint sneakers.

Working in isolation the brands probably couldn’t have pulled off this type of project in the timespan or quality that they’ve done it in. By partnering they were able to fill in the gaps of each other’s weakness and in doing so push the boundaries like never before. Like they boldly state on the Futurecraft Footprint landing page:

“We’re one planet, so let’s act as one. Collaboration will get us to better, sooner.”

Less is More

In order to make a shoe with such a low footprint the brands needed to start from scratch so to speak.

Rather than adding things to solve problems, they thought about what they could take away.

Sometimes we get so used to the way that we do things that we forget to question if there is a better, less impactful way. One thing they were able to do differently was remove all of the internal reinforcements, replacing them with a special embroidery on the upper of the shoe. As we strive to make better products with planet and people in mind we need to question each step of the status quo. It’s the small changes that will add up to a larger impact.

Track Your Progress

When we first hear a shoe that’s made with a footprint under 3kg per pair, it doesn’t mean much to the average person. It’s not until we compare that number with the footprint of other items that we come in contact with that we truly understand how impressive it is. The typical hamburger takes on average 5kg of carbon, and a bitcoin has an enormous footprint of 359.04 kg per coin.

By tracking the footprints of the products that we are creating we are developing a true understanding of their impacts. When we have measurable for each step of our products journey we are better able to manage what areas need the most improvements.

On the consumer side, carbon labelling allows them to make more informed decisions about the products they are buying. It can also build back trust between customers and brands. Helping move away from the era of eco-scepticism that consumers hold because of the rise in empty sustainability claims.

Finding Your Blueprints for Sustainable Innovations

This is just the beginning of rewriting fashions future.

We are sure to see more sustainable innovations that will drive the industry forward in the coming months and years. With each concept and idea that is launched we can each take bits and pieces to build our own blueprint for the future. Together we can make the difference and build the future that works for both people and planet.

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