People / Planet
February 18, 2020

THESE TRAINERS ARE TRASH: Nike To Launch recycled ‘Space Hippie’ Travel Shoes

Words by Matt Leedham
ImpactTravel Better

Nike is launching an exploratory footwear collection constructed with Nike’s own “space junk” transforming scrap material from factory floors into a radical expression of cool design.

If you’re anything like me – aside from your passport, smartphone and wallet, your favourite trainers are always the next most important item to make it onto your travel essentials packing list.

Comfort is always king on the move, so wearing a pair of shoes that will be kind to your feet is paramount to exploring and happy travels of any kind.

But to date, finding an ethical pair of trainers has been a challenge with most of the leading brands trudging slowly towards the responsible starting line when it comes to sustainable production.

Images of slave labour, sweatshops and environmental destruction are not the kind of thoughts you need to harness anytime, let alone when you might be actually visiting the destinations where your precious trainers were manufactured.

And while Adidas launched an ethical sneaker collaboration with Parley.Tv a couple of years ago made from recycled plastic collected from remote beaches and coastal communities, they have sadly been hard to find and expensive to buy.

Given the urgency of climate change, Nike says they want to meet the challenge head-on with “a bold step to reimagine solutions to critical environmental problems.”

So enter Nike and their new ‘Space Hippie’ range of recycled trainers.

The result Nike says, is the creation of footwear with their lowest carbon footprint scores ever.

The global sporting giant says that “Space Hippie an example of advancing human potential. New benchmarks in the use of recycled content set a new bar for responsible design. It challenges convention in material sourcing. Space Hippie is about doing better for today, setting the stage for a stronger tomorrow. It drives a new vision for how things are made, used and, ultimately, reused.”

Every detail of the four initial Space Hippie silhouettes, from material choices to methods of making to packaging, was chosen with consideration for its environmental impact.

“Space Hippie product presents itself as an artefact from the future. It’s avant-garde; it’s rebelliously optimistic,” says John Hoke, Nike Chief Design Officer. “Space Hippie is also an idea. It is about figuring out how to make the most with the least material, the least energy and the least carbon.”

“I’d say Space Hippie attacks the villain of trash,” says Hoke. “It’s changed the way we look at materials, it’s changed the way that we look at the aesthetics of our product. It’s changed how we approach putting the product together.”

The basis for the engineered knits that form the Space Hippie uppers is created using what we call ‘Space Waste Yarn.’ These yarns are made from 100 percent recycled material — including recycled plastic water bottles, T-shirts and yarn scraps. Combined with the other elements of the Space Hippie 02, we get an upper that is 90 percent recycled content by weight.”

“For cushioning, Space Hippie uses factory scraps from the production of the Vaporfly 4% and reprocesses that ZoomX foam in a way that uses about half the CO2e as typical Nike foams.”

“The tooling of all Space Hippie shoes, created with ‘Crater Foam,’ is made with a blend of standard Nike foams and 15 percent Nike Grind Rubber. The reduction in virgin material gives a lower carbon footprint and the Nike Grind granules create a really unique texture and colour mix on every midsole.”

John Hoke, Nike Chief Design Officer

“We believe the future for a product will be circular. We must think about the entire process: how we design it, how we make it, how we use it, how we reuse it and how we cut out waste at every step. These are the fundamentals of a circular mindset that inform best practices.”

Seana Hannah, VP, Sustainable Innovation, Nike

While it all sounds very technical at this stage, it’s most definitely a positive step in the direction towards travelling in shoes we can all feel good about.

Space Hippie 01, 02, 03 and 04 will be available in autumn for Nike members in SNKRS and SNEAKERS, as well as at Nike House of Innovation flagship locations and select retailers.

Find out more:

How can you travel to change the world?

Congratulations! By reading this post and taking some of these insights on board, you’ve already made a difference.

Now you can easily create your impact by sharing your new-found knowledge with other friends who you think would also be interested.

Ultimately, responsible travel comes down to common sense – stay curious, keep yourself up-to-date with the challenges at hand and make yourself accountable for your actions on your travels.