On Running's subscription service lets you swap used shoes for new ones

A promising sustainable model.

On Running Cyclon

On Running is banking on subscriptions as the future of shoes. The Swiss footwear brand has announced the new Cyclon model, a recyclable running shoe that'll be available exclusively through a monthly subscription. For $29.99 a month, subscribers will be able to trade in the Cyclon for the latest version of the sneaker. On Running will then recycle the worn shoe to be used in another generation of running gear.

The lightweight, high-performance sneaker comes in at just 7 ounces and is 100 percent recyclable. More than 50 percent of its materials are made from castor beans. By marketing the Cyclon as a sneaker you'll never own, On Running is striving to eliminate waste from sportswear with circular design.

On Running

Deliveries begin next year — On Running is now taking $29.99 deposits for the Cyclon, which will be delivered some time in the second half of 2021. That's a long time to wait for a sneaker, but it's an exciting dynamic for sneakers that encourages recycling.

Like most modern running shoes, the all-white Cyclon features a plush cushioning in its midsole to maximize energy return for its wearer. "Making a fully recyclable, performance running shoe is a huge accomplishment, one that we're immensely proud of," On co-founder Olivier Benhard said in a release. "We wanted to show that sustainability and performance go hand in hand."

On Running

Other companies are dabbling with similar models — Adidas has its own circular sneaker in the Futurecraft.Loop, another 100 percent recyclable shoe that can be made into yet another sneaker. The program launched with 200 sneakers that were given to select "creators" in April 2019, returned, and then made into 200 new pairs later that year. A wider release for the Futurecraft.Loop was pegged for SS20, but has yet to come to fruition — possibly because of the pandemic.

While not as sustainability-oriented, Nike launched its own sneaker subscription service for children last year. Starting at $20 a month, the Nike Adventure Club allows subscribers to trade in kids' sneakers 4 to 12 times per year. With how fast children's feet can grow, the subscription service provides a more affordable way to make sure kids continue to have shoes that fit.

Collecting is still a major component of sneakerhead culture, but these avenues could prove fruitful for the subscription model that's becoming more and more a part of our lives.