Sneaker culture might be fun, but it has a dark side. Constant drops, ceaseless production, and quick turnover make for an industry that isn’t exactly the shining star of sustainability. Some brands are taking note. Allbirds makes its sneakers from sustainable wool and eucalyptus trees; Everlane’s Tread sneaker uses responsibly sourced leather; and now, there’s another company looking to enter the eco-friendly sneaker space, called Nothing New.
Nothing New, which launched in June, makes sneakers that are essentially that: nothing new. The fabrics to make the shoes are recycled from plastic, and the shoe shapes themselves are a simple high top and a simple low top. There’s nothing overtly flashy about them, which is exactly what makes them so special.
“We think the problem with plastic waste is real,” says founder Nolan Walsh. “While there are other sustainable brands in the market, we felt that if we combined a truly luxury aesthetic with the most sustainable materials possible that we could make something truly special.”
And that’s just what they made. The company’s attitude about materials aligns with one of the most promising areas of sustainability: a closed-loop lifecycle. Instead of taking a fabric or material that can only be used once, a closed-loop lifecycle means giving life to materials that have already been used before. That minimizes earthly impact at every part of manufacturing. Nothing New brought that mentality to every detail of its shoes.
“The uppers, laces, and insole liner are made from 100-percent recycled, post-consumer canvas,” says Walsh. “There are approximately 5.6 recycled water bottles in every shoe, and compared to cotton canvas, over 160 gallons of water are saved in each pair.”
There’s also a recycled cork outer sole, a recycled rubber toe cap, and a recycled cotton shoe tag. Even the support built into the shoes is made with recycled fishing nets. Those materials are brought to two very wearable sneaker shapes: a low top and a high top, which come in a range of colors. The high retails for $110, the low for $95.
But the brand doesn’t just start with a recycled material; it’s also working to close its own loop in the product’s life. After wearing through the sneaker, customers can send it back to be properly recycled into the supply chain. Plus, you’ll get a $20 credit for a new pair of kicks.