How many trainers have sneaked into your wardrobe?

Trainers. Comfortable, ageless and fashionable, whether you’re a committed runner or a sofa-based Olympics’ fan!

We probably all own at least one pair, and for some people they’re an obsession, but the facts around their production and its effect on the environment are pretty stark. Approximately 25 billion pairs are made every year, most from a combination of plastics, metals and potentially toxic glues and dyes, often in conditions that exploit workers.

The plastic is, of course, made by burning oil, which is why the trainer industry alone produces 700 million tonnes of CO2 a year. The equivalent to running 150 million cars for the same amount of time … ouch. We play a part; Britain is the world’s third largest consumer of trainers after the US and China.

Did you know that most trainers consist of 20-60 different component parts and require assembly using up to 300 separate procedures? This complex construction makes them difficult to recycle and most currently end up in landfill where the plastic can last for an indefinite period while heavy metals from dyes contaminate the land.

What Can You Do? Think about your shopping habits, do you really need another pair? Or do they still have enough life in them to give them a wipe over and pass them on to a charity shop? Most will clean up with a light brushing or a damp cloth, and insoles can often be replaced. Can you put the environment above fashion?

If you really are in the market for a new pair, have a look at some of those brands trying to change things. Look for the B Corp Movement logo, which indicates that the company has had “to meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability”. Many new companies are making an effort to get away from the high carbon footprint of plastic-based trainers (though only 40 per cent have a sustainability policy). If you’re tempted by ‘vegan’ trainers, check out the materials used and beware yet more plastic.

Whether it’s couch or 5K you’re planning, try to choose your footwear with the planet in mind and, in the meantime, value the ones you already have!

Top tip: Apparently, we shouldn’t be tempted to machine wash trainers! They may come out looking clean but the materials take a beating and of course micro plastics might well be heading down the drain with the soapy water!

Article originally from Plastic Free Axminster.