Sneakers Made From Recycled Carbon Emissions

 Sneakers Made from Recycled Carbon Emissions (image via NRG): Promotional Tennis Shoes for Carbon XPrize ChallengeSneakers Made from Recycled Carbon Emissions (image via NRG): Promotional Tennis Shoes for Carbon XPrize Challenge


Tennis shoes, sneakers, athletic footwear, call them whatever you want but the world is crazy for them. Since their inception and arrival sometime in 1892 (via the U.S. Rubber Company), the first pair of sneakers called Keds captured the hearts of Americans looking for a comfortable alternative to ill-fitting or uncomfortable leather shoes of the day. By 1917, the tennis shoes were so popular that mass-production began to accommodate the high demand. Fast forward roughly a hundred years and very little has changed with regards to our ongoing love affair with them, but how they’re made and what they’re made from has definitely shifted. Enter 2016 and sneakers made from recycled carbon emissions.

The Evolution of Sneakers

From rubber soles and canvas tops to designs encompassing space age materials like Puma’s BMW driving shoes made from a lightweight Lycra-type fabric, sneakers are probably the world’s most popular shoes. For many people they’re a fashion statement more than anything else, because at least half of the consumers who buy them don’t use them for anything beyond comfort and looks (no running, jogging or sports). With style over substance being the trend for the last couple of decades, energy company NRG decided to create a product with a reduced carbon footprint to promote the Carbon XPrize, a four-year competition the group is sponsoring to accelerate “the development of technologies that convert CO2 into valuable products.”

Shopping for Tennis Shoes

While the all white sneakers that look like the traditional tennis shoes tennis players wore might seem ordinary enough, roughly 75 percent of the materials used in their construction are made from gaseous waste recycled from power plants and turned into a useful polymer, in essence reducing their carbon footprint. Because they’re a promotional product, only five pairs of them have reportedly been made. This pretty much puts the kibosh on the ability to buy a pair, had you been toying with the idea. Which wouldn’t be surprising. Green clothing options have been cropping up all over the place in the last five years or so.

Sneakers Made from Carbon Dioxide (image via NRG): Rmoving & recycling pollutants is good for the planetSneakers Made from Carbon Dioxide (image via NRG): Rmoving & recycling pollutants is good for the planet


Eco-Friendly Fashion Trends

Besides these green sneakers, more and more small manufacturers and designers that are eco conscious are committing to what’s being called sustainable fashion that includes products with a significantly reduced carbon footprint. While they are small in size, their numbers continue to grow in sales and number of businesses. You can find a lot of stuff that’s green on Etsy, but this eco-fashion trend is catching on worldwide. One such business known as Ethically Clothed began its own online store based out of Brighten in the U.K. not long ago and it’s doing well. The company got its name from the term ethical fashion, and they and others like them take the subject seriously.

Recycling Pollutants

Capturing and recycling carbon emissions and other pollutants is proving to be a win-win. For instance, there are a number of innovative projects that have come along that serve a dual purpose by allowing us to clean up the air we’ve already sullied and reduce our future output of poisonous muck. The multiple benefits are making us rethink a lot of our manufacturing methods and perceived limitations. One example is air carbon packaging that reduces oil-based plastics by 70 percent. Another is the discovery by a recent MIT grad that he could turn air pollution in the form of fine particulates into an ingredient for black printer ink. His discovery would rid the air of soot and be used as a far less expensive option to printer cartridges.

If you’re interested in the Carbon XPrize challenge and perhaps learning more about NRG or getting involved, check out the link above.