New Balance is breaking into the green shoe arena, and we aren’t talking colors. The just released ME070 and WE070 are made from recycled and sustainable materials, designed and developed with a real focus on eliminating waste. Boston-based New Balance is in the process of creating a new eco-preferred collection within it’s Outdoor category, of which the 70 will be the introductory model.
Billed as “part of a larger, corporate-wide sustainability initiative to operate our business in an environmentally sensitive manner,” the New Balance 70s are just the tip of the toe. Developed for eco-fashionable consumers, the New Balance 70 features a new eco-friendly construction with seventy-five percent of the upper components consisting of “environmentally preferred materials.” The laces, webbing, rand, quarter, tongue and saddle incorporate recycled polyester; the foxing and the tip of the shoe are synthetics made with fewer solvents than traditional materials. Rice husks filler in the outsole reduces the amount of rubber needed, thus reducing the amount of petroleum used. Water-based adhesives (rather than solvent-based) are used to join the upper and the sole unit and no paper stuffing or paper wrapping are used in the packaging of 70.
I was lucky enough to be one of the few to test out this new shoe before it hit the market. The first impression of the stylish burnt-orange model (MT070PB) I received in the model was mixed. Do I wear it as a stylish street shoe, or as a replacement for my aging trail runners? The fact that it has the ability to do both makes it a very versatile eco-friendly shoe. The overall design is much like a puzzle, utilizing as much of the original cutting materials as possible. It is apparent that this is their first attempt at an eco sustainable shoe as it tows the line between an eco-shoe manufacturer and a running shoe manufacturer.
Lightweight, airy and super cozy, these shoes felt just as comfortable on the trail as it did in the city. Pair them up with an eco-friendly performance running top, and you are ready to hit the trail, or lace them up for an urban hike, either way it will be a stylish and comfortable journey.
“We used our best available resources and technologies to decrease the environmental footprint of the 70, the new eco-preferred collection is another step of many as we make progress to operate our entire business in an environmentally sensitive manner.” -Katherine Petrecca, New Balance Senior Outdoor Product Manager
The environmental footprint reduction of this shoe is largely based on the reduced material usage and waste, and the incorporation of recycled materials. While this does not result in a staggering change, it is significant for a large scale footwear manufacturer looking to get its feet wet in the eco-friendly market. Retailing for $80, you should see these trickling into your local shoe stores soon.
I hope this is just a peek as to what is to come for New Balance in their quest to utilize environmentally preferred materials, constructions and manufacturing processes. I will be keeping an eye out for the newer designs under this new eco-preferred collection!