Running Gear That Won’t Hurt the Planet

The weather is warmer, the days are lengthening and summer is officially here. Spending as much time outside as possible is the goal this time of year.

Me, I love to run. And it seems during the summertime that there are races every weekend around the country, from 5Ks to half marathons to tough mudders.

And as amazing as it is to run outside on trails, in your local park, neighborhood or on the beach, I often find myself thinking about my footprint in these places. No, I don’t mean my actual footprint. I’m talking about the carbon footprint we leave with the brands we buy. Am I preserving the beauty of these natural outdoor spaces if I’m contributing to a consumer culture of waste and less than ideal working conditions? I’ve found myself wondering this on more than one run recently.

Some popular brands have faced accusations of poor working conditions and sweatshop labor in order to create their iconic products and increase profits. Others have made questionable choices, such as stealing copyrighted logos.

This got me thinking, so I started looking into ways I could vote with my dollar for companies that are consciously making ethical and fair choices for their employees and the environment. Here’s a roundup of the best brands I’ve found:

For shoes: Newton Running

Didn't notice tomorrow was Friday? That's a stretch! #newtonium #newtonrunning #motion6 #stretch #recover

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Newton is self-described as “socially conscious, eco-friendly, digital savvy dogs-in-the-office runners who are committed to bringing you high-quality, responsive running shoes.” This company is the first-ever running brand to achieve BCorp status and also sponsors several charities such as Soles 4 Souls, Trickle Up and One World Running. They also make ridiculously awesome running shoes.

For socks: Swiftwick

There's no time to sleep…it's the weekend! ?: @ocr_jen14 in the Aspire Zero Aqua.#Swiftwick #ChaseAdventure

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Based in Tennessee, Swiftwick is committed to making durable socks that wick sweat, reduce odor and also aim to be as sustainable as possible. Their goal is to minimize the impact their manufacturing has on the environment and they also make all their products in the U.S.A.

More socks: Bombas

Ring in the summer with vibrant colors.

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This growing company discovered that the number one most-requested item in homeless shelters is socks. Their dream to donate one pair of socks for every pair sold has been realized through the company’s mission. Bombas are also amazing at staying in place without sliding down while running and don’t hold onto sweat like traditional cotton socks.

For clothes: Oiselle

This #sportsbrasquad showed up ready to roll.

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An empowering for-women, by-women brand, Oiselle makes premium running apparel. They listen to the concerns and needs that women runners have and use their own experiences on the trail or track to inform their product design. They also have a focus on charitable giving with their “GOT Bras Program for middle school girls, work with Every Mother Counts, [and] Girls Gotta Run in Ethiopia.”

For gear and everything else: Patagonia

A pack on your back. The world at your feet. Photo: @carlzoch

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It’s almost unavoidable to make a list of environmentally-responsible companies without mentioning Patagonia. They have a strong commitment to sustainability, going so far as to create advertising that asks customers to consider if they really truly need a product of theirs before buying. You can learn more about their efforts (which are extensive) here.

Happy running!

Now that you have your pick of ethical running shoes and socks, where do you plan on running with them?

Feature Image via Anna Howard

Mary Grace is a middle and high school English teacher who has taught in Chicago and New York. She is passionate about education and social justice, loves writing poetry, running, reading, hiking, and learning new things. She finds inspiration everywhere, especially from #Darling women.