The Greening of the Running Industry

The Eugene Marathon has also generated considerable media attention by adopting green policies. Special initiatives for the May 4, 2008 event include partnering with the Eugene Water and Electric Board and the local Hilton to use sustainable power during the three days of the event, using a Solar Sun Rover as power at the finish, organizing special recycling volunteers and encouraging all runners to participate in their green mission.

Since Green appears to be the "New Pink" when it comes to affiliating with worthy causes, marketers are tripping over each other to associate with pro-green organizations and products. Therefore having a green platform can also help an event recruit sponsors. The San Francisco Marathon organizers, for example, have lined up an impressive list of sponsors including Clif Bar, Hyatt, JetBlue, Cytomax, Hint Water and Saturn to help implement their green plan (see for details).

Eco-Responsibility of Running Shoe Companies Evolving

Large companies such as Nike, wanting to avoid PR problems such as those caused by labor practices of the 90s, are taking a lead in the area of green policies and action. According to Joel Makower, executive editor of, "Nike is making bold moves to eliminate toxic materials, improve recyclability and generally reduce waste and emissions of their products and their manufacturing processes."


Highlights of their green efforts include:

  • Production of Nike considered products such as the trail running shoe Humara which uses less raw material, generates less waste in manufacturing, is PVC-free and uses water-based adhesives instead of petroleum.

  • Recycling effort called 'Reuse-A-Shoe' that has recycled more than 20 million pairs of athletic shoes and created more than 250 sport surfaces.

  • Member of the Paper Working Group, which collaborates to make environmentally preferable paper products more affordable and widely available.

Brooks earned the Runner's World International 'Innovation Award' in 2006 for environmental stewardship efforts. They have an easy-to-find Green Room on their website which describes their technologies and practices in a way that makes it understandable to the average consumer:

  • BioMoGo is a new midsole foam for footwear coming July '08 that will biodegrade in 20 years--50 times faster than standard midsoles. That change is expected to save more than 30 million lbs. of landfill in the next 20 years.

  • Collateral materials from brochures to hangtags are scrutinized for their environmental impact. By using more responsible materials for Fall 2008 catalogs Brooks saved 47 trees; 19,026 gallons of water; exhaust emissions equivalent to driving a compact car 5,322 miles and 2,174 lbs. of solid waste.
  • In 2008, new eco-friendly shoe boxes will contribute to the saving of 13,827 trees; 5,693,282 gallons of water; enough power for 650,661 homes and 48,800 less tons of air pollution.
  • HPR (High Performance Rubber) Green outsole featured in all trail running shoes is made from sand rather than oil.

  • In early 2008 Brooks will be scored and counseled by the Bainbridge Graduate Institute on the company's baseline carbon footprint and how to improve.

Adidas is now 99 percent PVC-free worldwide. In 2007, the company conducted energy efficiency workshops for 101 suppliers in Vietnam and South-China. The adidas American headquarters has earned 'Salmon Safe' certification, which involves an in-depth assessment of land management practices that could affect water quality and fish habitat. They are also participating with City of Portland to eliminate non-native vegetation.

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