Allbirds launches running shoe using plant-based materials

Allbirds Tree Dasher shoe
Allbirds Tree Dasher running shoes are made from plant-based materials including sugarcane, eucalyptus and merino wool. Photo credit: Supplied/Allbirds.

The maker of a performance running shoe incorporating plant-based materials including sugarcane and eucalyptus says that they emit just 9kg of CO2 per pair.

Co-founded by former All White Tim Brown, Allbirds, an environmentally friendly footwear company, has launched a running shoe called 'Tree Dasher'. It's made from natural and plant-based materials, including the company's signature fibre, merino wool. 

Based on 'CO2e' (carbon dioxide equivalent emissions) - a term that describes the amount of carbon dioxide that would have the equivalent impact on global warming - the Tree Dasher's emission is around 30 percent less than that of a standard sports shoe, estimated at 12.5kg.

The company said that most people are aware of how plastic affects the environment, but recycled plastic also creates a footprint. The goal was to create a different kind of neutral running shoe, using natural materials.

"The sugarcane, eucalyptus and merino wool in the Dasher have the potential to suck more carbon out of the atmosphere than they take to produce," a spokesperson said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought global attention to the subject of health, which for manufacturing businesses, should also include the health of the planet.

"To keep ourselves accountable, we made the Dashers the first footwear or apparel product to be labeled with its carbon output: 9kg of CO2 per pair."

Co-founder Tim Brown said that for too long, the performance industry thought athletic footwear meant synthetic footwear.

"By failing to make the most of what’s right in front of us - nature - we've missed some of the greatest performance materials in existence.

"Our multi-year journey to create the Dashers demonstrates what’s possible if we put innovation muscle into natural materials that’s usually reserved for petroleum-derived synthetics,” Brown said.

A pair of Allbirds Tree Dashers retails for NZ$245. By comparison, Thursday's prices at Smiths Sports shoes show that runners looking for a neutral shoe could buy a pair of Asics Gel Cumulus 21 or Asics Nimbus 21 for a slightly lower price of $229.90. Similarly, a pair of Asics Gel Cumulus 21 GTX (male/female) would cost $239.99 at Rebel Sports.

Allbirds was co-founded by Tim Brown in 2016 and is best known for its trademark shoe, Wool Runner. 

With headquarters in San Francisco, the company is now a global success with stores in multiple countries, including Britomart in Auckland.