MIC’d Up: Everlane’s New Sneaker is Great for Wellness and Sustainability, but Brand Authenticity?

As Earth Month comes to a close, I’ve been trying to spend extra time celebrating Mother Nature. In doing so, I’ve been walking everywhere, and feeling pretty good about it, too! So, you can imagine my surprise when I was told walking – more specifically the shoes you’re walking in – can have pretty serious impacts on the environment.

Thankfully, more and more brands are paying attention to this lesser known issue. The latest company following suit – Everlane.

They just released a new sneaker as the debut piece for their eco-conscious line Tread. The sneaker significantly decreases the number of plastic materials used during production and sets the new standard for durability with a 94.2 percent virgin plastic-free sole. The company is also offsetting carbon emissions from the leather used – 84 percent of which comes from farm-raised cattle – by partnering with NativeEnergy to support projects that improve grazing practices.

The media loves this story. Word has been spreading like wildfire with articles in top publications like WIRED, Fast Company, Bloomberg and Business Insider. Consumers love it, too. The shoe just came out yesterday and it’s already receiving rave reviews.

The style is a little dull, so why the hype? In PR we refer to it as corporate social responsibility (CSR), and it’s a practice we’re seeing more and more of here at March. When done in an authentic way, CSR programs can be wildly successful because consumers love to see companies take a stand on issues that align with their own values. Promises must be upheld though, and a brand should always have a solid plan in place to demonstrate measurable change. With Everlane, they can continue to churn out eco-conscious apparel, but at the end of the day it’s just apparel. What else can they do prove to consumers that this isn’t a marketing stunt for more money? I’m sensing an environmental impact study is in our future.

Market sales and reputation aside, we need more of this – companies taking responsibility upon themselves to educate their consumers and encourage more sustainable practices. They have an immense amount of control – as much as it pains me to admit – so it’s time they started doing the right thing with all that power.

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