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9 Sustainable Running Shoes – Run Like The World Depends On It

The SJ Team

How can we work on our 5K PR without sending our planet straight to the finish line?

It’s a feat (or feet, rather) and likely one that won’t be solved as fast as you can run around the block.

The footwear industry as a whole has some pretty dirty practices en-tread-ed in it, hence our recent ethical shoe brand kick into eco-friendly sneakers

Now we’re shifting focus and covering some serious ground on sustainable running shoes.

The best eco-friendly running shoes are those able to achieve foot-healthy cushioning with sustainable (and ideally) plant-based materials. Because this is an Olympic-level challenge, we really admire shoes crossing both those ribbons.

Everything we recommend to you on Sustainable Jungle is independently researched and we ask all brands to confirm their claims. To avoid waste, we test products on an as needed basis. This post contains affiliate links. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a small commission. Learn more about why we do this here.

Sustainable & Recycled Running Shoes Setting A Planet-Friendly Pace

We love their sustainable shoes for casual wear, so it’s no surprise that Carbon Neutral Allbirds also make some of the best ethical running shoes out of mostly biobased materials. 

“Climate positive” footwear brand Icebug, takes care of your winter running, slippery conditions included with their running shoes made from recycled plastic

Get a runner’s high on circular footwear from On Running. Their sustainable running shoe is 100% recyclable and made from innovative sustainable materials.

If you’re interested in the fast track, sprint to the end to see how we found this track team of sustainable running shoe brands.

The Full List Of Eco-Friendly Running Shoe Brands

1. Allbirds

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Images by Allbirds

About Allbirds

Price Range: $135–$170

Your feet will feel like flying when you lace up a pair from Allbirds

Continuously evolving for both performance and sustainability, their eco running shoes offer something for every type of running and runner—fans of fluffiness included. 

The Allbirds Tree Dasher 2 is their everyday running shoe. It features a one-piece upper for seam-free comfort, a lightly padded heel, and a flexible cushioned insole. We found this shoe a pretty reliable neutral fit for short to moderate distances. TBC on how it holds up long term though as compared to your more traditional running shoe brand options.

For distance running, their Tree Flyer sports a light, bouncy midsole and a breathable, plant-based upper to help you cover those miles. 

If you’re looking for sustainable trail running shoes, the men’s and women’s Trail Runners SWT feature multi-directional 4mm lugs for increased grip on multiple terrains.

If you don’t fall head over heels for them, return them within 30 days, ”no questions asked”.

Allbirds’ Ethical & Sustainability Practices

We’ve done a deep dive on Allbirds’ sustainability but for the sake of brevity, here’s the summary.


For uppers, they use either merino wool, FSC-certified TENCEL™ lyocell fabric, or a blend of bot, bringing natural materials into a traditionally synthetic-dominated industry. 

The SwiftFoam™ midsole used for their Flyers are 48% bio-based thanks to castor bean oil, and the SweetFoam® midsole (Dashers and trail running shoes) is made with sugarcane-based EVA. 

Outsoles are made from FSC-certified natural rubber. Other sustainable materials include bio-based TPU, bio-based nylon, and recycled polyester.

Note that none of the current styles are vegan as even the Tree Dasher contains a merino wool heel lining. 

Allbirds sources ZQ-certified ethical wool from mostly regenerative farms (soon to be 100%) that prioritize animal welfare standards. 

Supply chain & labor practices:

These sustainable running shoes are made in Hai Phong, Vietnam, but is Allbirds ethical? 

This Certified B Corp’s ethical running shoe factory is part of the Better Work program and suppliers must adhere to their Code of Conduct, which prohibits forced labor, child labor, unreasonable working hours, and more. 

Carbon commitments & green practices:

Aside from being carbon-neutral by offsetting 100% of emissions through carbon offset programs that focus on permanence and additionality, their Flight Plan details ways in which they plan on reducing emissions altogether—like having all factories (both their own and partner ones) operate using 100% renewable energy by 2025.

Last year alone, they achieved a 12% emissions reduction.

Each pair of ethical running shoes is labeled with its carbon footprint and shipped in an all-in-one bag, box, and mailer made from 90% post-consumer recycled cardboard.

They also promote circulation by selling used shoes through ReRun.

Community & charitable giving:

Through Soles4Souls, lightly used and returned shoes are donated to help global communities thrive.

2. IceBug

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Images by IceBug

About Icebug

Price Range: $130–$280

Running in icy conditions? 

Swedish brand Icebug is on a mission to make sustainable traction footwear and inspire more people to get outdoors.

Specializing in eco-friendly running shoes for winter conditions, the Certified B Corp offers plenty of ethically made running shoes for all of your outdoor adventures, including those with legendary GORE-TEX® (GTX) waterproof membranes.

Icebug’s Ethical & Sustainability Practices


Uppers are made from bluesign® certified and 100% GRS-certified recycled PET polyester, the midsoles contain 20% BLOOM® foam, and outsoles from FSC-certified natural rubber.

The GORE-TEX® lining used for some models is bluesign®-approved and OEKO-TEX-certified.

You’ll also find recycled fishing nets and recycled polyethylene in these recycled plastic running shoes. 

Supply chain & labor practices:

If you want an eco-friendly running shoe not made in China, Icebug’s are made in Vietnam in factories that are regularly audited to ensure healthy and safe conditions. 

This Fair Wear Foundation member’s Follow Our Foot Footprints initiative makes it easy for customers to trace the journey of each pair of shoes. Scan the QR code in the tongue or shoebox to reveal manufacturer info and sustainability stats. 

Carbon commitments & green practices:

Icebug was the first outdoor footwear brand to become climate positive by offsetting 200% of emissions—including all historical emissions since the company started over two decades ago.

They’re committed to halving emissions by 2030 and always use sea freight over air freight. 

Each product description highlights the CO2 footprint and percentage of recycled and bio-based materials present. 

Community & charitable giving:

Icebug is a member of 1% for the Planet. Recipients include Protect Our Winters and Naturarvet.

3. Merrell

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Images by Sustainable Jungle

About Merrell

Price Range: $90–$150

Performance, comfort, and fit were Merrell’s main priorities, but now this 40-year-old brand has added another: sustainability. 

The most sustainable running shoes are those that will last a long time and Merrell’s trial runners are made for years of puddle splashing, hill ascending, and hundreds of miles of rough terrain. 

While not all are planet-friendly, they’re incorporating sustainable materials into some models, so filter your search to include only “eco-friendly” and “recycled” features. 

Merrell’s Ethical & Sustainability Practices


The uppers, laces, lining, and footbed cover for their men’s and women’s (but not the kid’s) Trail Glove and Vapor Glove shoes are made with 100% recycled materials. 

The EVA foam midsole is 30% recycled and the Vibram® outsole is made with 30% recycled rubber.

The Moab Flight is another sustainable athletic shoe line featuring a 70% recycled upper, a 50% recycled footbed cover, 100% recycled laces, and 30% recycled Vibram® outsole. 

Supply chain & labor practices:

Merrell works with global partners committed to humane, safe, and ethical working conditions. 

Suppliers comply with international labor standards and parent company Wolverine Worldwide’s Code of Conduct.

Carbon commitments & green practices:

Merrell is a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition

On a mission to save 300,000 shoes from landfills by 2025, the brand’s recycle and resell program “ReTread” encourages customers to send back their old pair for rehoming. 

They’re also aiming to reduce plastic packaging and shoe samples, while simultaneously increasing the number of models with recycled materials to 100%.


Merrell’s The Trail Ahead aims to make the outdoors more welcoming and inclusive.

They’ve partnered with a range of organizations to help get more people outside, including Zappos Adaptive and Unlikely Hikers.

Community & charitable giving:

Merrell is a member of The Conservation Alliance and makes regular financial contributions.

4. On Running Cyclon

9 Sustainable Running Shoes – Run Like The World Depends On It Images by On Running Cyclon #sustainablerunningshoes #runningshoessustainable #bestsustainablerunningshoes #recycledrunningshoes #recycledplasticrunningshoes #sustainabletrailrunningshoes #sustainablejungle
Images by On Running Cyclon

About On Running

Price Range: $30/month

On Running’s Cyclon shoes aren’t for you to own.

Wait, what?

On Running wants their shoes back because they’re 100% recyclable. And made out of beans. And “borrowed” using a subscription service. 

Weird, but totally cool. 

You pay to rent the recycled running shoes, then return them at the end of their usability (after about six months) for a fresh pair of the breathable and minimal Cloudneo.

They also sell traditional running shoes, but these haven’t landed on our list of the most sustainable.

Cyclon’s Ethical & Sustainability Practices


PA11, a bio-based plastic that’s engineered from castor beans is used for the upper and the bottom unit is made from Pebax®, another castor oil-derived bio plastic. 

To further minimize environmental impact, the uppers of On Running’s recycled shoes are undyed. 

Supply chain & labor practices:

All On Running recycled shoes are made in Vietnam, in compliance with their Supplier Code of Conduct that follows ILO and ETI standards.

Carbon commitments & green practices:

Can running shoes be recycled? 

On Running’s Cloudneos can. These shoes are a fully zero waste product made of 100% recyclable materials. Send them back in the bag your new shoes arrive in and On takes care of rest. 

Committed to sustainability, On Running is continuously looking at ways to reduce its carbon footprint. Materials are a key focus, with innovations like CleanCloud™, a material developed from captured carbon emissions.

5. Reebok

9 Sustainable Running Shoes – Run Like The World Depends On It Images by Reebok #sustainablerunningshoes #runningshoessustainable #bestsustainablerunningshoes #recycledrunningshoes #recycledplasticrunningshoes #sustainabletrailrunningshoes #sustainablejungle
Images by Reebok

About Reebok

Price Range: $80–$110

While not historically known for making the most ethical running shoes, this footwear giant is changing its ways.

Reebok is growing its eco offerings with increased use of eco-friendly and recycled materials. 

The shoes in their [REE]GROW line are made from a minimum of 50% plant-based materials, while those in the [REE]CYCLE line feature at least 30% recycled or repurposed materials.

Reebok’s Ethical & Sustainability Practices


The Floatride Energy Century Grow in the [REE]GROW line are made from a tree fiber upper, castor bean midsole, and natural rubber outsole. 

We couldn’t find specifics about the recycled materials used in their [REE]CYCLE line, although their sustainability page indicates they use recycled polyester. We’ll reach out for more details.

While miles away from being as sustainable as others on this list, it’s a start. We watch for them to incorporate more eco-materials and higher recycled percentages. 

Supply chain & labor practices:

Previously owned by Adidas, Reebok is now owned by Authentic Brands Group. We’re unsure about its labor practices, and haven’t received a reply from our outreach yet.

We do know Reebok is a member of the Fair Labor Association, so presumably some of their offerings are fair trade running shoes. 

Carbon commitments & green practices:

Aside from more sustainable materials, it’s unclear if Reebok is doing anything else to improve its sustainability.

Community & charitable giving:

The brand previously partnered with One Tree Planted for Reebok UNLOCKED Week, donating a tree for every purchase from their sustainability collection.

6. Brooks

9 Sustainable Running Shoes – Run Like The World Depends On It Images by Brooks #sustainablerunningshoes #runningshoessustainable #bestsustainablerunningshoes #recycledrunningshoes #recycledplasticrunningshoes #sustainabletrailrunningshoes #sustainablejungle
Images by Brooks

About Brooks

Price Range: $65-$150

Brooks is dedicated to people and the planet. They want to ensure that “everyone who wants to run is welcome to run, and everyone who runs has a place to do it”.

Taking strides towards sustainability, they have several targets in place for climate action, responsible sourcing, community engagement, and DEI. 

Brooks’ Ethical & Sustainability Practices


Their best-selling model Ghost is Brook’s first carbon-neutral running shoe with 62.5 % recycled materials in the upper. 

By 2030, Brooks plans to source a minimum of 50% recycled or renewable materials across their range, but at the moment, most other styles fall closer to containing 30% recycled plastic bottles.

It doesn’t appear their mid or outsoles contain any especially sustainable materials, but their Responsible Chemicals Program ensures everything is safe for wearers and the environment. 

Supply chain & labor practices:

Committed to responsible sourcing, all suppliers must adhere to the brand’s Supplier Code Of Conduct

Brooks is a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and their factories are evaluated using the HIGG Facility Social Labor Module (FSLM). 

Carbon commitments & green practices:

Brooks is on a mission to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 with a climate road map to help them get there. 

By 2025, they aim to send zero manufacturing waste to landfill and, by 2030, have developed a fully circular performance shoe.

Their Seattle HQ is LEED certified. 

Read more about their climate progress in their latest Corporate Responsibility Report.


Committed to making running inclusive and accessible to all, Brooks is a founding partner of the Running Industry Diversity Coalition (RIDC), supporting programs like Front Runners, a worldwide network of LGBTQ+ running clubs. 

Community & charitable giving:

Brooks supports various charities and initiatives via sponsorships, funding, and product donations. 

The Brooks Booster Club supports under-resourced youth teams.

7. Hylo Athletics

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Images by Hylo Athletics

About Hylo Athletics

Price Range: $135–$170

Carbon negative—you don’t hear that too often in the world of shoes.

More than a brand, Hylo Athletics is a “community of champions of tomorrow”. 

Watch their short film Athletes For The Planet to learn how they’re using sport to inspire positive change and enable their community to “run like the world depends on it”. 

Hylo Atheletic’s ethical vegan running shoes are extremely lightweight (for tired legs and a tired planet) and designed to be recycled.

They keep it simple with two sustainable styles: HYLO LIGHT (for everyday running) and HYLO RUN (for performance running). 

Hylo Athletics’ Ethical & Sustainability Practices


The HYLO LIGHT features a Corn Spring® midsole, Algae BloomTM insole, and a sugarcane-derived upper.

The HYLO RUN is 60.03% bio-based. It features a knitted, sugarcane-derived upper and a bio-based EVA and Pebax® midsole. 

Other sustainable materials that make these running shoes eco-friendly include sugar-derived and corn-derived PLA, natural rubber, organic cotton, algae bloom, water-based glue, and water-based ink. 

All shoes are lab-certified vegan by Eurofins

Supply chain & labor practices:

Hylo’s manufacturing partner is SEMS in Putian, China, whom they regularly audit to ensure good working conditions and fair pay. 

Carbon commitments & green practices:

Aiming for full circularity, the Hyloop platform helps wearers prolong the life of each product through care and repair and facilitates recycling at end-of-life. 

You can send your old shoes back to Hylo for recycling to receive a £10 credit. 

They use minimal FSC-certified packaging and offset their already tiny carbon footprint—6.56kg CO2e for the LIGHT and 7.41kg CO2e for the RUN.

8. Vivobarefoot

9 Sustainable Running Shoes – Run Like The World Depends On It Images by Vivobarefoot #sustainablerunningshoes #runningshoessustainable #bestsustainablerunningshoes #recycledrunningshoes #recycledplasticrunningshoes #sustainabletrailrunningshoes #sustainablejungle
Images by Vivobarefoot

About Vivobarefoot

Price Range: $120–$195

Did you know rigid, cushioned, and narrow shoes can diminish the natural strength and functionality of our feet?!

Before watching this next brand’s Shoespiracy documentary, we didn’t either. 

Vivobarefoot offers some of the best sustainable running shoes for those looking for a minimal barefoot experience (read: the closest thing to barefoot you can get while still offering full foot protection). 

One of the best sustainable men’s shoe brands, they have pairs for men, women, and kids alike, in styles designed for both trail running and road running.

You can try a pair for 100 days and return them at no cost if you discover barefoot shoes aren’t for you. 

Vivobarefoot’s Ethical & Sustainability Practices


This Certified B Corp is continually working to include more sustainable materials.

Moving away from virgin plastics, they are incorporating more recycled plastic into their shoes and working with BLOOM to increase the amount of algae-based EVA foam used (currently only 5%). 

All road runners are vegan, but some of their eco-friendly trail shoes use Australian Woolmark-certified wool and leather.

Vivobarefoot’s Wild Hide ethical leather is sourced from small-scale, free-roaming cattle herds in Ethiopia and Thailand. 

Supply chain & labor practices:

Vivobarefoot’s sustainable running sneakers are made in Vietnam by manufacturers that adhere to the brand’s code of conduct and ILO standards. 

Carbon commitments & green practices:

Ranging across material sourcing, emissions, carbon offsetting, water usage, waste management, and more, the brand’s eco-commitments are outlined in its environmental policy and tracked via annual reports

Vivobarefoot’s Revivo program repairs old footwear for resale or reuse by you—making them one of the best options for repairable shoes.

Community & charitable giving:

Less cushioning, more caring! The Livebarefoot Fund, is the brand’s in-house impact hub for social and environmental projects. 

It provides loans and opportunities for projects like Soul of Africa (their social enterprise in Ethiopia), Fashion for Good, Proudly Made in Africa, Future Footwear Foundation, and more.


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Images by VEJA

About VEJA

Price Range: $150–$210

The word “Veja” is Brazilian for “look,” inspired by the desire to truly look into what it takes to make a pair of shoes.

Three years ago, VEJA released the Condor, their first post-petroleum sustainable workout shoe.

They now have a line-up of four different running shoes made from recycled materials: Condor, Condor 2, Impala, and Marlin, each made to accommodate different types of runners, surfaces, rides, weight, cushioning, and flexibility.

VEJA’s Ethical & Sustainability Practices


These environmentally friendly running shoes are made with 53-62% bio-based and recycled materials. 

Uppers are made from 100% recycled polyester and outsoles from sustainably sourced Amazon rubber. The L-foam cushioning contains 30% natural latex and the Pebax® Rnew® inserts provide support. 

Other sustainable materials include sugarcane, rice waste, ricinus oil, and banana oil. Full details about the materials used for each model can be found on their website

Supply chain & labor practices:

Each pair of ethical running shoes is made in Brazil. VEJA is committed to transparency and shares detailed information about its production process. 

The Certified B Corp pays twice the market price for both its Amazonian wild-grown rubber and its fair trade and organic cotton.

70% of a conventional sneaker’s cost is related to advertising. Because VEJA doesn’t use ads, they keep prices low for customers and fair for farmers and factory workers. 

Carbon commitments & green practices:

VEJA calculated CO2 emissions across all operations, published an emissions report. Nearly 80% are associated with raw materials, and 97% of those are from leather, thus their focus on improving these aspects. 

Their shops in France and New York collect old sneakers to be cleaned, recycled, or repaired.

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Why Buy Eco-Friendly Running Shoes?

The footwear industry is running laps around our planet—in all the bad ways. 

It turns out that lacing up is destroying our home. The sneaker industry would be the 17th largest polluter if it were a country. 

Traditional running shoes not been made of sustainable fabrics: virgin leather, virgin synthetic fabrics, and PVC, to name a few. 

Because running shoes have so many different components, there’s a lot of room for a LOT of unsustainable materials.

Even if some are natural and/or recyclable, it’s often difficult to separate them to properly dispose or recycle of each. 

To really get our laces in a knot, the materials aren’t the biggest problem. Manufacturing accounts for two-thirds of the carbon footprint due to fossil-fuelled powered manufacturing plants and the high energy requirements of producing the various components. 

Bottom line: we buy a lot of shoes—90% of which end up in landfill—so we need to start buying better ones.

How We Found The Most Ethical & Sustainable Running Shoes

So, what is the most sustainable running shoe?

Even from big brands like Nike, recycled running shoes are taking their places at the starting line, but does that mean these big industry monoliths are sustainable?

There’s a lot to trip over, so we made it easier by breaking down our criteria for what makes running shoes sustainable. 

Just make sure you stretch before you consider the sustainable and ethical fashion aspects of your shoes.


Vegan ethical running shoes typically include TENCEL™ lyocell, recycled polyester from plastic bottles (used by many recycled shoe brands), castor bean oil, corn, algae bloom, hemp fabric, organic cotton, rubber, sugarcane, rice waste, and banana oil (byproducts of the food industry).

If you’re not sheepish about animal products, natural and ethical wool, leather (as long as it’s a byproduct), and silk may also be found in a pair of sustainable shoes

Unfortunately, there are no completely biodegradable running shoes yet, as the performance demands at least some form of partially synthetic materials like foam for support and cushioning during a high impact activity like running.

Supply chain and labor practices:

What running shoes aren’t made in sweatshops? Or better, what is the most ethical running shoe brand?

Though none of these are eco-friendly running shoes made in the USA, the brands on this list are taking strides towards more ethical manufacturing with their global partners. 

Transparency is the first lap (with things like supplier details and a comprehensive code of conduct).

We really start to feel that runner’s high when we run into brands with fair trade or direct trade partnerships and third-party certifications—though to prevent even greenwashing of these, we love when they’re paired with other transparency efforts.

Carbon commitments & green practices:

Along with designing a durable running shoe, going beyond sourcing recycled plastic bottles is ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY.

Management of waste and carbon emissions are critical in becoming a truly sustainable brand.

We liked the snug fit of carbon offsets, careful packaging, efficient manufacturing practices, localization, renewable energy, plans to adopt closed-loop systems, and, most importantly, initiatives to reuse, repair, or resell refurbished shoes.


Not much to report here in the world of sustainable footwear, but we did give extra snaps to brands working to make the world of athletics a bit more diverse and inclusive.

Community & charitable giving:

When it comes to eco-friendly running shoes, ankle support is appreciated—but so is support of a better world.

Return programs that donate old shoes to global communities and initiatives to support social and environmental projects make for the best sustainable running shoes.

Final Thoughts On Ethical & Sustainable Running Shoes

If you’re out of breath, don’t worry; we are too. 

While the world of ethical sustainable running shoes is still in its infancy, things are moving in the right direction. These brands clearly state that sustainability is a journey and one they’re on for the long haul. 

Remember that the manufacturing aspect is the biggest charlie horse for our planet, so do what you can to keep your shoes roadworthy for longer.

Then sprint through the selection of some online thrift stores to see if you can find any unworn or lightly used pairs before resorting to this list.

Help the runners in your life—whether 5am ones or once-a-year ones—find the perfect, planet-friendly fit by sharing this article with them.

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