A plant-based running shoe? Outdoor gear that’s kind to the planet


With awareness of global warming affecting consumer behavior, makers of recreational gear and clothing are feeling the heat to make their products more environmentally friendly. The result: an explosion of eco-sensitive merchandise that uses recycled materials, petroleum-based alternatives, fewer dyes, or sustainably grown materials that use less water and emit less CO2 in manufacturing. Here are a few examples:

1. Natural rubber wetsuit

Patagonia R2 Yulex front-zip wetsuit: This wetsuit replaces conventional neoprene, a petroleum-based artificial foam rubber. It uses an 85% natural rubber/15% synthetic rubber mix. The company says the formula reduces 80% of CO2 emissions during the manufacturing process. The rubber latex is tapped from trees that are Forest Stewardship Council certified by the Rainforest Alliance. The dying process uses 86% less water than dying neoprene.

Why we like it: It’s loaded with durable and practical features, such as external seam sealing, and a triple-glued and easy-access key loop. Rated to 55-to-60-degree water, with a form-fitting snugness that loosens with use.

Info: $459,


2. Plant-based running shoe

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Bio shoe: Minimalist running footwear made of 30% renewable plant materials. In place of petroleum-derived materials, it uses something called bio-thermoplastic polyurethane made from yellow dent field corn, natural rubber and harvested bloom algae.

Why we like it: At 9 ounces for an average-sized shoe, it weighs about 10% less than Vivobarefoot’s standard ultra-thin-soled shoe, which allows for barefoot-style sensory feedback.

Info: $160,

3. Natural Yoga Block

Hugger Mugger cork yoga block: Rectangular yoga block made of 100% renewable cork.

Why we like it: The cork texture provides an easy-to-grip, non-slip surface. The round edges keep it comfortable for supported backbends and other positions.

Info: $21.95,


4. Recycled jacket

Jack Wolfskin Kiewa fleece jacket: Fleece running/hiking jacket made of 100% recycled plastic bottles and fabric remnants. The outer fabric, waterproof membrane, lining and insulation that are all made from recycled materials (zippers, pull-tabs and labels are the only components that are not recycled). This Germany-based brand is among the first to offer eco-clothing.

What we like: Breathable, fast-drying stretch fabric with two hand pockets.

Info: $139, (click on “sustainable collection”)