Many people think that when you live in the suburbs you are only surrounded by tiny plots of land with mowed lawns and white picket fences. That’s not the case for me. I am very fortunate to live within a half mile of a forest reserve of more than 2,000 acres of undeveloped land. Twice a week my friend and I take an 1-1.5 hour hike — no matter the weather, no matter the season, we take her dog and hike.
So I was really excited when I was offered the opportunity to test out a new brand of high-performance eco-friendly trail shoes. Now I’ve seen eco-friendly clothing and everyday footwear. Never before have I seen green footwear for athletic and fitness needs — think Nau for the outdoor fitness enthusiast.
Launching August 1st, ENDoutdoor (END) is a new sustainability company that is focused on designing outdoor gear that performs well without all the “bells and whistles”- no pumps or air cushions that don’t really do anything. By keeping it simple, END reduces components, material and manufacturing waste. END’s stated goal is to reduce waste up to 59% in the first season compared to the top rate trail running shoes.
Their trail shoes are made from renewable, sustainable or recycled (RSR) materials wherever possible. The company’s goal is to reach 100% use of RSR in the next 3-5 yrs. END shoes are being manufactured in China. China, I know what you are thinking! However, the company made a conscious decision by going to China. They believe that China is the best choice because they want to be part of the solution by working closely with manufacturers to make the processes as eco-friendly as possible. END is teaching Chinese manufacturers how to produce environmentally, not just low-cost. The company hopes this focus spreads beyond just the producing of END’s shoes.
One of the most interesting features of END’ manufacturing process is that all materials used to make the shoes are sourced within 1 hour of the production factory, cutting down on transportation pollution. Additionally, all wastes are recycled back into the shoes, and the shoes are shipped in lightweight containers, cutting down on use of fuel for shipping. Importantly, END shoeboxes are made of recycled and recyclable material.
So how do they actually perform in the field? I love them. I have been hiking in the END Stumptown 12 oz running shoes (pictured above) that use 35-59% less material; rubber, foam, resins and glues (compared to the top five trail shoes by Outside Magazine in 2007).
From the feel, they sure seem like it. They are comfortable, light and stable. No fancy colors or logos. I even went hiking the other day with my husband and we took a new route. We had to cross a river that we both fell in. My END sneaks dried out in the the sun in about an hour and my husband’s Adidas Sambas (not the best hiking shoes) were still wet that night!
END believes that they are taking a look at the entire life cycle of the shoes, making each step as eco-friendly as possible. I asked if the company will have a recycling program for spent shoes. What they told me is they hope to implement one at some point, but there is no timeline in place yet.
ENDoutdoor’s first product line includes seven lightweight trail-inspired running-training shoes for both men and women ranging in price from $60 -$90. The shoes are available online at both REI.com and Zappos.com in addition to more than 70 specialty footwear retailers nationwide and in Canada starting August 1.
If you are in the market for a new pair of trail/running shoes, I recommend checking them out. I plan on getting another pair for myself and think I may even get a pair for my husband so he does not have to hike in his Sambas!