Nike, Jordan, and Converse are going all in on recycled sneakers

The Air VaporMax 2020 Flyknit is one of Nike's most sustainable sneaker to date.

Nike, Jordan Brand, and Converse have all banded together to announce their latest breakthroughs in sustainable footwear. The result is a wide range of options utilizing recycled materials, including three pairs of Jordans and a Chuck Taylor drawn from Space Hippie and one of Nike proper's most sustainable sneakers yet.

Space Hippie, first introduced by Nike earlier this year, utilizes trash and recycled Nike Grind rubber to create raw sneakers that make their second life readily apparent. It informs the new kicks from all three brands under the Nike umbrella, but the releases will mark the first time the sustainable design ethos has been brought to Jordan and Converse.


Let's start with the Js — Anytime an Air Jordan 1 is involved, the seminal sneaker is going to be the main appeal. Under this initiative, its midsole is constructed with 12-percent post-consumer rubber from Nike Grind, while the upper incorporates recycled plastic bottles in a synthetic suede. It'll also be the most comfortable AJ1 you can wear, as it adopts Zoom Air for increased cushioning. The only thing that screams 1995 about this Jordan are the lines — the rest is very much of the future.

These same materials are used for the Jordan Crater, details of which the brand is holding back on for now but which appears quite similar to the Delta. Accompanying it will be a Crater Slide with a widely articulated strap that calls to mind Suicoke.

Nike reaches 50-percent recycled content — Nike is billing the new Air VaporMax 2020 Flyknit as one of its most sustainable sneakers yet, as it reaches 50 percent recycled content by weight. The Flyknit yarn used for the upper is made from 67-percent recycled materials, including plastic bottles, and the tongue jumps up to 80 percent with recycled foam. For the first time, the VaporMax unit runs the full length of the shoe (instead of using pods that feel like cleats when walking), creating a lower profile and using 75 percent recycled materials. Swirling clips on the heel and toe are made from 60 percent recycled TPU and serve as the anchor for the multi-colored affair.

On the pure tech front, the latest VaporMax adopts Nike's FlyEase lacing system with a one-handed lock and release mechanism that makes getting it on and off a cinch. All the wearer has to do is pull back the heel, making it convenient for people of all abilities.


Finally, some Chucks — Converse has been toying with the Chuck Taylor quite a bit this year and has updated the 100-year-old shoe with three different versions under the new CX line. Here, the Chuck uses the same Crater Foam as the Space Hippie line and the Jordans up above. Its soft, canvas-like upper is a Morphlon blend combining recycled polyester with post-industrial textile waste. A new eyerow manages to use less material than before for a distinct lacing system.

Converse and Nike are up first — Together, each release from the three brands are a part of Nike's Move to Zero initiative that seeks to reach zero carbon emotions and waste. Both the VaporMaxes and Chuck Taylors will release July 23 through Nike and Converse's respective webstores, while the Jordan lineup is slated to drop sometime this fall.

Going crazy and scooping up them all will only serve to highlight the pitfalls of sustainability, but at least they're each less bad than the alternative.