Last year, Climate Pledge signatory Brooks Running introduced its first carbon neutral running shoe. Sally Fouts, Amazon’s global leader of The Climate Pledge, sat down with David Kemp, Brooks’ senior manager of corporate responsibility, to learn about that product development, plans for more carbon neutral innovations, and his advice for other textile and apparel companies who are curious about pivoting their product materials and company operations to prioritize the planet.
Sally Fouts: The Ghost 14 shoe—Brooks’ first net zero carbon product—is exemplary of the fact that sustainability doesn’t have to sacrifice style. Tell us how your team was able to lower the carbon footprint of the Ghost 14 and make it carbon neutral.
David Kemp: Our efforts to make the Ghost 14 carbon neutral started with reducing its carbon emissions. For this, we focused on incorporating more recycled materials in the shoe’s upper. Almost all upper textiles have now been converted to contain a minimum of 30% recycled polyester, and many are 100% recycled polyester—including the sockliner top cloth, tongue lining, toe box reinforcement, and more. These efforts resulted in 59% of the upper textile raw material inputs being recycled in the Ghost 14. Additional highlights include: 45% recycled polyester vamp mesh, 33% recycled polyester tongue mesh, and 86% recycled nylon heel mesh.
We then compensate for any remaining carbon emissions we have not yet been able to reduce with carbon offsets to make an immediate impact to help address climate change.
This carbon neutral product was a collaborative effort across our Footwear and Corporate Responsibility teams: The Footwear team was responsible for reducing the carbon emissions of the Ghost 14 by selecting materials with recycled content. The Corporate Responsibility team then took on the Life Cycle Assessment to calculate the carbon emissions of the Ghost 14 across its entire lifecycle.
We worked closely with our Carbon Offset partner, ClimateCare, to select high-quality carbon offset credits from projects that meet leading international standards within the voluntary carbon offset market (Verra, Gold Standard, ACR, and others) which ensures the credits are additional, permanent, quantifiable and verifiable. We prioritized projects that align with climate science, and lead to clear social and environmental impact, such as improving air quality, and health and well-being.