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Switch to sustainable running shoes to lower the pollution. Find out the best sustainable shoes here for your feet and nature.

Each year 300 million pairs of shoes get thrown into the landfills. And, they slowly release toxins and other harmful substances for the next 35 to 40 years!

Yes, this is how long it takes to completely decompose a regular running shoe.

The fashion industry, including sports fashion, has long been at the receiving end of criticism for poor social and environmental practices. 

But it seems like many years of pressure and a change in consumer preferences towards sustainable footwear have brought about some great new products. 

Compared to traditional running shoes, these new products don’t just aim to be carbon neutral but also offer a running shoe option made from recycled or organic materials. 

The big question is whether these sustainable running shoes will stand up to the pressure from athletes. 

So I tested 15 of the latest sustainable fashion shoes to see which ones to recommend. 

My 3 Favorite Sustainable Running Shoes

allbirds tree dasher sustainable running shoes

Allbirds Tree Dasher 2 

  • Plant-based materials
  • Carbon negative manufacturing
  • Great ankle and arch support
  • Highly breathable mesh
merrell moab flight sustainable running shoes

Merrell Moab Flight

  • Sturdy trail running shoes
  • Removable insole included
  • Great grip in all weather conditions
  • Suitable for wider feet
adidas X parley sustainable running shoes

Adidas x Parley

  • Made using recycled Ocean plastic
  • Breathable and water-resistant mesh
  • Low energy and water production methods

The 5 Best Sustainable Running Shoes

Allbirds Tree Dasher 2

Highlights: Extremely lightweight running shoe made using merino wool, which makes them very comfortable and breathable for athletes. 

allbirds tree dasher 2

Top of our list of most sustainable running shoes is the latest version of the Allbirds Tree Dasher. I was a big fan of the original version and was delighted to see that the company hasn't stopped developing new ideas. 

These eco-friendly running shoes now have an official green EVA certificate to show that they are carbon negative. And by using natural rubber and plant-based raw materials, the impact on nature is minimal. 

The upper parts are made from a combination of sugar cane, eucalyptus tree, and merino wool, and these natural materials are sourced from highly sustainable farms.

Overall, they have been certified to only produce 9 kg (about 20 pounds) of CO2, and Allbirds offsets that carbon footprint to turn it into a negative number, 

Not only are they highly sustainable, but they also offer exceptionally good support for your feet and ankles

What I also like about these sustainable sneakers is the upgraded heel collar that provides much better ankle support. 

It's not quite enough to make them suitable as trail running shoes, but if you sometimes run on slightly uneven ground, then these minimalist running shoes are a great choice. 

Currently, the color options are a bit more limited than what you had available with the original version. But I imagine that will change as the manufacturing processes ramp up for higher demand. 

There are seven color choices, from bright yellow to classic gray, so you can make as much of a statement with them as you want. 

Plus, there are both men's and women's version available.

Key Benefits:
  • Uses highly sustainable materials, including eucalyptus tree and sugar cane
  • Certified carbon-negative product
  • The merino wool is comfortable and light and provides great breathability
  • Very comfortable and supportive sole for long runs
  • Provides good ankle support to reduce risks of injury

Merrell Moab Flight

Highlights: Excellent trail running shoes that have an amazing grip and water resistance using almost entirely recycled materials.

merrell moab flight

The Merrell Moab Flight running shoes are the first vegan running sneakers on this list. None of the materials is sourced from animal products, and the company has a cruelty-free certificate as well, which will be very important for any vegan athletes

The sustainable footwear company has pushed the boundaries for recycling with the laces made of 100% recycled materials, the upper mesh 70%, and the insole 50%. And the natural rubber sole also contains 30% recycled materials. 

One thing I found with many other trail running shoes made from sustainable materials is that they tend to be quite heavy. But Merrell has become a leader in the footwear industry by making these trail runners noticeably lighter than anything else you might find. 

I also like the higher-than-average heel support, which wraps nicely around the ankle joint as well. 

And then there's the grip. 

The sole design will give you plenty of grip, even on wet and slippery surfaces. It's great to see that the sustainable fashion industry still takes safety and practicality seriously and not only focuses on being carbon neutral. 

I've tried them on a few trail runs in warm and colder conditions. I love that my feet never feel cold or overly sweaty, which is always a difficult thing to achieve. The upper mesh doesn't saturate with water even when you step in puddles of water, which tends to happen a lot when trail running. 

Key Benefits:
  • Sturdy trail running shoes will stand up to tough environmental conditions
  • Contains no animal products and certified cruelty-free recycled materials
  • Available in different width options to make them more comfortable
  • Comes with a removable insole for better arch support

Adidas x Parley - Ultraboost 22

Highlights: This running shoe is made from recycled plastic bottles and Ocean plastic using manufacturing processes that minimize water and energy usage.

Adidas parley ultraboost 22

The whole idea behind the Adidas Parley range is to offer customers a wide range of style and design choices with the clear conscience of purchasing a running shoe that also cleans up the oceans

Adidas hasn't been known as one of the most sustainable brands, but the partnership with Parley to help remove and recycle plastic materials from the ocean is a great step in the right direction. 

What I found most surprising is that you can't actually tell the difference between these ethical running shoes and the regular ones using new synthetic materials. They look and feel exactly the same, which says a lot about how unnecessary all that plastic waste is that doesn't end up in the cycle economy. 

With the right processes, the company has recycled PET and managed to also create one of the best running shoes I've ever worn. 

The natural rubber soles are strong enough for pounding the hard surfaces while also providing the cushioning effect that Adidas is so famous for. 

I've used these now on a regular basis for a mix of long runs and also some interval training where I alternate between jogging and sprinting on a clay track. The comfort is excellent, and you'll also find plenty of grip on different types of surfaces. 

They are also water-repellent shoes with a breathable mesh. That means your feet will stay dry and comfortable even on tougher training days. 

Key Benefits:
  • Very comfortable recycled running shoes made from plastic bottles
  • Adidas has also focused on making them in low energy and water waste process
  • Great breathability to keep your feet from becoming uncomfortably sweaty
  • Available in lots of modern and retro style choices

Hylo Athletics Men's Hylo Run 2

Highlights: These running shoes are made using production methods and offsets that result in a carbon-negative product that has one of the most comfortable soles for running.

Hylo 2

Hylo Athletics has created these certified vegan running shoes with a clear focus on minimizing the impact on the environment. 

Each pair has a carbon footprint of less than 7 kg, which is half the industry average. But the company then takes it another step further by offsetting more carbon than it releases, making them effectively carbon-negative

And it heavily relies on plant-based raw materials for a more sustainable impact on the environment. And all that adds up to a running shoe that can be fully recycled when you've worn them out. 

The eco-friendly running shoes also come in fully recycled packaging, and you can send the box back to the company for further recycling. 

Equally impressive is the performance you get with these running shoes. 

First of all, you can hardly feel the weight of these, and that translates into a far better running performance. You'll also immediately notice that your feet stay cool even on long runs where you really don't want to experience extreme sweating. 

I also found that these running shoes were ideal for running on the road as the soles are perfectly cushioned to reduce the impact on your joints. If you've had aches and pains after running, then these should make a big difference. 

And finally, I love the great range of color choices. I actually bought one dark pair for running and a lighter color for casual wear and for going to work. 

Key Benefits:
  • Extremely lightweight mesh upper with a breathable cooling effect
  • Excellent recycled rubber and foam sole provides a great cushioning effect
  • Certified vegan option with only natural plant and limited synthetic materials
  • These running shoes come in recycled packaging that you can send back

Allbirds Women's Wool Dasher Mizzles

Highlights: These highly water-repellent running shoes are ideal if you exercise in all weather conditions and want to avoid wet and cold feet at the end of a run.

allbirds women dasher mizzles

These Allbirds are my wife's favorite running and walking shoes. The wool upper is made from sustainably sourced Merino wool and then sprayed with a water-repelling shield made from environmentally friendly and biodegradable materials

The result is a warm and breathable running shoe that will keep your feet dry even when you go running in the rain. And the natural wool material doesn't make you excessively sweat either. 

The shoelaces are also made from recycled plastic bottles, which further reduces the environmental impact. 

The overall result is carbon-neutral running shoes that you can wear and an everyday sneaker. 

Apart from making great use of recycled materials and sustainable practices, these are also extremely comfortable for walking and running. 

Your feet stay at an ideal temperature to avoid getting cold or overly sweaty. And you'll immediately notice the grip you get in all weather conditions. There's simply no slipping, and that will help you avoid injuries

The ankle and foot arch support is also excellent, which makes them a lot more comfortable, and you feel that your ankles are a lot more stable. And they also have reflective details that you can instantly see in poor light conditions for added running safety. 

The only downside is that these running sneakers are only available in three colors, which might be a bit limiting if you're particularly fashion conscious. 

However, if you're buying these to go running in the rain or generally wet conditions, then I wouldn't focus too much on the color and stick with the darker tones available that won't show every speck of dirt. 

Key Benefits:
  • Ideal for running in the rain while keeping your feet dry and cool
  • Made using sustainable materials, including Merino wool
  • The shoelaces are made from recycled materials, including plastic bottles
  • Extremely grippy sole will help you avoid slipping in wet conditions

Comparison Table of Sustainable Running Shoes







Certified B-Corp

Eco-friendly Material

Allbirds Tree Dasher 2


10.3 oz



Merrell Moab Flight

Trail Running

17 oz







8.1 oz




Hylo Athletics Men's Hylo Run 2


8.46 oz


Allbirds Women's Wool Dasher Mizzles


11.08 oz


What to Look for When Buying Sustainable Running Shoes

When it comes to choosing sustainable running shoes, there are a couple of things that you need to focus on. And it's not just whether the company used recycled materials and low-energy production processes. 

Eco-Friendly Materials

When looking for a sustainable running shoe, diving deep into the lifecycle and eco-friendly materials used is key. Often, we think about recycled plastics, recycled polyester, and plant-based products as the go-to solutions for reducing environmental impact. Yet, the innovation doesn't stop there.

Consider Adidas's partnership with Parley, where they turn ocean plastics—once harmful to marine ecosystems—into the very fabric of their running shoes. This strategy supports ocean cleanup efforts while creatively repurposing the waste. But the journey towards sustainability pushes even further with some brands striving to create shoes that are fully recyclable, challenging the status quo of materials destined for landfill.

Moreover, the pursuit of eco-friendly materials goes beyond just recycling. Whether it involves wool, organic cotton, or algae foam, the focus is on ensuring these materials are harvested sustainably. Many brands now work closely with farming organizations that certify these sustainable practices, aiming to lessen the eco-footprint from the supply chain to your feet.

Understanding the difference between materials—like recycled polyester versus algae foam—can empower you as a consumer to make informed decisions. Recycled polyester reuses existing plastics, whereas algae foam represents a renewable resource that's less taxing on our planet's resources.

Reflecting on the tangible impact of these sustainable choices, it's evident that initiatives like recycling ocean plastics not only clean our seas but also curb the demand for new, virgin plastics in the shoe industry.

By choosing shoes made from eco-friendly materials and produced through responsible practices, we play a part in promoting environmental sustainability. Every step taken in a sustainable running shoe is a step towards a more sustainable world. Let your choices reflect your commitment to our planet's health, and together, we can make a significant difference.

Company Ethics

Eco-friendly running shoes must come from companies that don't just stop at the product level but also embody significant improvements in their overall ethical standards. It's essential that the effort to produce sustainable footwear isn't isolated. If a company releases a sustainable line while the bulk of its products and practices lag behind, the effort feels disingenuous. True ethical commitment means setting ambitious, continuous improvement goals for sustainable and ethical manufacturing across the entire product range.

Moreover, the scope of these ethics shouldn't be limited. It must encompass workers' rights, extending protections and fair practices to all direct employees and, ideally, setting standards for suppliers as well. This comprehensive approach gives you, as a consumer, peace of mind when investing in new running shoes.

However, identifying companies that genuinely practice what they preach requires a bit of diligence. Look for those that not only claim sustainability but also transparently share their policies and progress. Companies like Patagonia, for instance, not only advocate for environmental sustainability but also actively engage in fair labor practices and transparency, setting a benchmark for what ethical manufacturing looks like.

But it's not just about the internal practices of these companies. The broader impacts, such as reduced waste and a smaller carbon footprint, showcase the environmental benefits of ethical manufacturing. As consumers, we can support this shift by choosing brands that offer clear, transparent information about their manufacturing processes and labor practices. Asking questions, reading sustainability reports, and understanding certifications can guide us toward making more ethical choices.

Acknowledging the challenges is also vital. Ethical manufacturing can be more expensive, but it's an investment in a better world. Companies that overcome these challenges not only lead by example but also demonstrate that profitability and ethics can coexist.

In essence, when looking for eco-friendly running shoes, delve deeper into the company's ethics, not just its products. By supporting brands that are committed to both environmental sustainability and social responsibility, you contribute to a movement that values our planet and its inhabitants equally. Your choices have power—use them to advocate for a better, more sustainable and ethical world.

Supply Chain And Labor Practices

In discussing the importance of supply chain and labor practices, it's crucial to recognize that the sustainability of a product is deeply intertwined with the ethics of its sourcing and production. Simply using sustainable materials falls short if those materials are procured from countries or companies notorious for exploiting workers. The fashion industry, with its extensive influence, holds significant power in advocating for better practices among suppliers.

Furthermore, the journey of materials to factories and the final products to consumers also demands attention. The environmental impact of transporting these goods is substantial, underscoring the need for setting ambitious carbon-neutral goals throughout the supply chain. This commitment should stand shoulder to shoulder with initiatives like using recycled polyester and plastics.

Yet, acknowledging these issues is only the first step. Concrete examples of progress, such as brands that have successfully integrated ethical sourcing while achieving carbon neutrality in logistics, serve as beacons of what's possible. These success stories not only inspire but also set a benchmark for the rest of the industry.

However, the responsibility doesn't end with corporations. As consumers, we wield considerable influence through our purchasing choices. By favoring brands that transparently commit to ethical practices and environmental stewardship, we signal to the market that sustainability and ethics are non-negotiable.

Moreover, understanding the broader implications of inaction—such as the exacerbation of global inequalities and environmental degradation—can galvanize us to demand change. Strategies for achieving carbon neutrality, from renewable energy in manufacturing to innovative logistics, are within reach and exemplify the forward-thinking needed to transform the industry.

Lastly, familiarizing ourselves with global standards and certifications that monitor ethical sourcing and labor practices can guide us in making informed decisions. These benchmarks help sift through the noise, identifying brands that truly commit to making a difference.


Increasingly, companies are recognizing the value of becoming B-corp certified, a status awarded to businesses that demonstrate a high commitment to environmental sustainability, ethical production practices, and prioritizing workers' rights over profit margins. This certification is not just a badge; it's proof of a company's dedication to doing good, involving a rigorous assessment process that evaluates their impact on their workers, customers, community, and the environment.

Similarly, the Fair Trade certification plays a crucial role in ensuring that companies source natural materials responsibly. This certification means that the companies support fair and equitable treatment of farmers and small producers in developing countries. By choosing products from these certified sources, your purchase contributes to reducing poverty and supporting sustainable development in these regions.

However, it's essential to dive deeper into what these certifications mean. For example, B-corp certification requires companies to meet strict standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Knowing this can help you understand the significance of supporting such businesses.

While these certifications are impactful, they're not without challenges. The process of obtaining them can be costly and complex, which might deter some companies. Furthermore, as consumers, we should be aware of and question the authenticity of these labels to avoid falling for greenwashing tactics—where companies falsely claim sustainable practices.

Encouragingly, many companies have successfully embraced these certifications, becoming leaders in ethical business practices. Supporting these companies can make a real difference. When shopping for running shoes, or any other product, taking a moment to check for B-corp or Fair Trade certifications can be a step towards making a positive impact.


The conversation around sustainable running shoes has, for a long time, centered on using recycled plastics and polyester. This focus taps into the benefits of the circular economy and helps dodge the bullet of virgin plastic usage. However, the sustainability journey doesn't end here. It's crucial to also zoom in on what happens to these shoes at the end of their life. Previously, the mix of various materials in sports footwear, including non-recyclable ones, has led to a dead end for recycling efforts, creating products that are often impossible to reintegrate into the circular economy.

Looking forward, the path to improvement involves not just selecting materials that are friendlier to the planet but also choosing those that can gracefully return to the cycle once their running days are over. The challenge with mixed-material shoes is that they complicate recycling processes, often rendering the entire product non-recyclable.

However, the tide is turning. Some companies are leading the charge by rethinking design from the ground up, focusing on single-material use or developing shoes that can be easily disassembled at the end of their life. This approach not only simplifies recycling but also sets a new standard for the industry.

But what can we, as consumers, do? It's about making informed choices. Opt for brands that are transparent about their materials and their end-of-life plans for products. Participate in take-back or recycling programs where available, and advocate for more sustainable practices within the industry.

The environmental toll of non-recyclable footwear is not negligible. From contributing to landfill waste to increasing the demand for new, virgin materials, the impact is far-reaching. By supporting innovation in design and materials that consider the end-of-life phase, we can help mitigate these effects.

Vegan Suitable

When considering the impact of our footwear choices, turning our attention to certified vegan running shoes offers a meaningful way to align with higher sustainability standards. These shoes guarantee that no animal-derived materials were used and that no animals were harmed in their testing processes. It's an approach that champions ethical considerations without compromising on quality or performance.

Even if you, like me, aren't vegan, preferring vegan running shoes can be a conscious choice reflecting a broader desire to avoid unnecessary harm to animals. This decision doesn't just echo personal ethics; it also taps into a larger movement towards environmental stewardship and responsible consumption.

Understanding the certifications that mark vegan running shoes, such as those approved by PETA or certified by the Vegan Society, helps ensure that your choices are genuinely in line with these values. These certifications are your guideposts in navigating the market, ensuring the products you choose stand up to rigorous ethical standards.

Beyond ethics, the choice of vegan running shoes speaks volumes about environmental impact. Typically, these shoes are crafted from alternative materials like recycled plastics, plant-based leathers, or other bio-based fabrics, which often have a lower carbon footprint and require less water compared to traditional materials. This shift not only reduces the demand for animal-based products but also encourages innovation in sustainable materials.

By opting for vegan running shoes, we send a clear message to brands about our priorities. The growing demand for ethical and sustainable products drives more companies to consider animal welfare and environmental impact in their product lines, fostering a market where ethical choices become the norm.

My favorite pair of running shoes is the Allbirds Tree Dasher 2. Not only is this one of the most sustainable running shoe brands I have been able to find, but these new running shoes are extremely comfortable and lightweight. 

You can hardly feel them on your feet, and the soles provide a great cushioning effect. 

Made with all-natural materials and creating a carbon-negative product, you have the full peace of mind that these shoes won't have a negative impact on the environment. 

Order your new pair today and find out how great they are for your running performance. 

Chris is one of GreenCitizen’s writers who has been a long-time advocate of individual responsibility when it comes to the environment. He shares GreenCitizen's passion for making the world a better place every day of the year.

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