The World’s First Net Zero Carbon Shoe

Unveiled at this year’s Global Fashion Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark – an international forum focused upon sustainability in fashion – the ultimately comfortable footwear brand allbirds revealed their latest efforts to alter the trajectory of footwear’s environmental impact with M0.0NSHOTa minimalist Merino wool upper sneaker they’re hailing as the “world’s first net zero carbon shoe.”

A pile of five Allbirds Moonshot sneakers stacked on top of one another against a beige surface and wall background.

This isn’t Allbird’s first effort to reduce the environmental impact attributed to midsole manufacturing. Back in 2018 the brand developed a midsole foam made from carbon negative, sugarcane-derived green EVA. In 2021, they also partnered with adidas to create a 2.94 kg CO₂e shoe, the lowest carbon footprint in the world at that time.

Allbirds' Moonshot merino wool sneaker set angled nearly vertical upon fake moss and stones.

The shoe arrives as a halo product spearheading the brand’s sustainability efforts to cut their carbon footprint in half by the end of 2025, with an eventual objective to get that figure to a near zero figure by 2030.

Graph showing the brand's net carbon footprint, calculating total energy and materials expenditures in Allbird's manufacturing, shipping, and end-of-life product cycle.

Allbirds claims their minimally adorned sneaker weighs in at a net 0.0 kg CO₂e carbon footprint compared to the average sneaker, which by their measurements imprints about 14 kg CO2e for each pair made. What’s notable is the M0.0NSHOT’s net zero figure isn’t achieved by the usual carbon offset shell game – the common practice of reducing emissions figures by compensating emissions elsewhere through efforts in land restoration or the planting of trees – but by committing to a “start to finish” approach in sourcing materials with little or negative impact from the start.

Hand holding up smartphone with map showing farmland borders.

Much of the M0.0NSHOT’s zero carbon attributes can be credited to the use of regenerative wool, a material sourced from Lake Hawea Station in New Zealand, a net zero carbon farm producing superfine premium merino wool that also sequesters more carbon by integrating native plantings, ground clearing, and new pasture species for their livestock.

The shoe’s soft knit bootie-like upper is made with superfine premium merino wool sourced from The New Zealand Merino Company’s regenerative wool program, ZQRX. The midsole is manufactured from a sugarcane-derived foam midsole with 70% bio-based content. And even the shoes eyelets are a carbon-negative bioplastic, made from microorganisms that convert methane into a polymer that can be molded into the small detailing required of footwear. By all appearances, M0.0NSHOT should offer a very comfortable fit, with durability a question only to be answered once production goes into effect.

Detail of the laceless tab upper of the Allbird Moonshot wool sneaker

We could spend decades debating the finer points of carbon sequestration, or we can innovate today with a common sense approach. It’s about progress, not perfection. The scientists have shown us what’s possible – now it’s time for the fashion industry to carry the open-sourced learnings from M0.0NSHOT forward.

– Hana Kajimura, head of sustainability at Allbirds

Detail of the top and underside of the laceless tab upper of the Allbird Moonshot wool sneaker

Along with M0.0NSHOT, the brand released RECIPE B0.0K, an open-sourced toolkit detailing how the brand achieved net zero to share the maps for others within the industry to follow.

One Allbirds Moonshot sneaker balanced across one stone on the heel and three stones toward the toe of the shoe.

The Allbirds M0.0NSHOT is scheduled for a Spring 2024 release, with pricing and options to be announced at a later date.

Gregory Han is the Managing Editor of Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at gregoryhan.com.

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