Shoes can be extremely wasteful to produce — this sneaker startup is helping to change industry standards by using 100% recycled materials

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Nothing New

  • Nothing New is a sustainable sneaker brand that, as its name suggests, doesn’t use any “new” resources to create its shoes.
  • The sneakers are made entirely from recycled materials. Each pair uses 5.6 plastic bottles and saves 160 gallons of water compared to traditional cotton canvas sneakers.
  • Nothing New sneakers cost $95 for low tops and $110 for high tops, but once you buy your first pair, the company will give you $20 off your next purchase when you send in your worn Nothing New sneakers.
  • Keep reading to learn more about just how wasteful normal sneakers can be and how Nothing New is helping change industry standards for sustainability.

There are currently 170 million metric tons of plastic in the ocean today. By 2050, there may be more plastic than fish in the ocean. Of course, it doesn’t take an expert conservationist or marine biologist to know those are not good statistics – especially when it’s easy to see that you, or at the very least, your children, will be around to witness such a catastrophe first-hand.

While it’s going to take a mass and coordinated effort worldwide to slow down or (hopefully) reverse the negative effects of plastic pollution and climate change, it’s imperative that we hold industries that contribute it at a greater rate responsible to set the pace and standard for sustainability – and right now, all eyes are on the footwear industry.

Shoes, most specifically sneakers, are by far some of the most wasteful products to make. Massive amounts of virgin plastic, rubber, petroleum, and cardboard go into producing, packaging, and shipping them to consumers. And once they’ve been beaten to the point of being unwearable, they’re thrown in the garbage to live in a landfill forever more.

Read more: Adidas sold 1 million pairs of sneakers made from recycled ocean waste in 2017

But a recently founded startup called Nothing New is doing its part to positively impact the planet and educate those that shop on it.

Nothing New Sneakers

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Nothing New

Founded by Nolan Walsh, the brains behind Thursday Boot Company, Nothing New is a sneaker brand making casual footwear that’s affordable and sustainably made, but doesn’t look it.

Coming in low-top ($95) and high-top ($110) styles, Nothing New sneakers feature a 100% post-consumer recycled plastic upper, and all its other components are made from some combination of recycled cotton, fishing nets, rubber, and cork.

Each pair is made from roughly 5.6 plastic bottles and saves 160 gallons of water compared to traditional cotton canvas sneakers. Even the box is made from 100% recycled paper. Without sacrificing the overall quality of the product, every consideration to reduce the brand’s carbon footprint has been made.

All styles come in sizes for men and women, and there are several colors to choose from.

Nothing New Sneakers

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Nothing New

First impressions

When I first learned about Nothing New I was thrilled to see a footwear brand fully dedicated to sustainability. There are a handful of other sneaker brands that are becoming more environmentally conscious, but this was my first time coming across a company whose entire ethos was based on sustainability. That, in combination with the shoes coming from the makers of Thursday, one of our favorite places to buy boots, made me really excited for the launch.

Also, I couldn’t help but notice that the overall design of the sneakers was strikingly similar to the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars, which isn’t a bad thing. The old-school-style basketball silhouette is a classic design whether they’re from Converse or not, so literally anyone can pull them off.

Nothing New sneakers

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Nothing New

What they’re like to wear

My biggest initial concern was the sizing. Since they’re similar in style to Converse, I thought that the sizing would be similar as well (Converse usually run a full size big). Nothing New recommended that I order my true size and that turned out to be spot on. I got to test the blue high-tops and the red low-tops and they’re both equally cool – choosing between high-top and low-top really boils down to what style you like more.

The sneakers are by no stretch intended for performance, but they are well suited for casual everyday wear. They feature Ortholite Eco-Step insoles, so there’s a good amount of cushioning for comfort.

Although the concept of recycled sneakers (or really any apparel product) might give some consumers the impression of a B-grade or second-hand product, that’s not the case at all. Despite the entire shoe being made from recycled materials, everything feels good in-hand and on-feet. If the sneakers weren’t labeled with tags that read, “handcrafted using the highest quality sustainable materials” and “this product was made from recycled plastic bottles,” you’d think they were standard canvas sneakers.

Nothing New sneakers

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Nothing New

Bottom line

If you’re looking at Nothing New sneakers strictly for their overall style – not their sustainability – then the $95-$110 price range might seem high, but I think they’re worth it. Compared to other sustainable shoe brands like Allbirds, that’s a pretty average price to pay for sneakers – and you’ll only have to pay that price once.

The brand will give you $20 off your next purchase when you send back your used Nothing New sneakers. From there, the brand will either refurbish your shoes to be donated to charity or disassemble them and recycle the materials back into its supply chain.

The very bottom line, though, is that we all have to do more than throw plastic bottles in recycling bins and turn the faucet off while we brush our teeth if we want a cleaner, greener planet to live on. If you already are or want to start making better choices about where you shop and what you buy, I strongly recommend Nothing New for your next pair of sneakers.

Shop Nothing New sneakers for men and women now, $95-$110