Already announced in March by sustainability-focused footwear retailer Allbirds, it was live and in color at the Global Fashion Summit in Copenhagen – ‘M0.0NSHOT’, the first shoe made without carbon emissions generate and with which Allbirds if not reaches for the stars then at least for the moon.
Allbirds’ co-founder and head of innovation, Tim Brown, unveiled it at Tuesday’s event and provided the instructions, as the company is making the entire production approach available as an open-source tool.
“This is one small step for Allbirds – but it could be a giant leap for the footwear industry if others join us,” Brown said, echoing Neil Armstrong’s famous quote.
“Unlike the ‘race’ in space, this is a relay race – we’re all on the same side,” added Brown. “‘M0.0NSHOT’ is Allbirds’ greatest achievement, but it means nothing unless others take action: that’s why we felt compelled to publish our findings so that others can take the baton and move us forward.”
The industry puzzled over the look of the shoe as it was also only unveiled today: it’s a high-top slip-on shoe that comes in an all-light gray colourway. “Not only did we make the world’s first net-zero carbon shoe. We also made the second, third, fourth net zero carbon shoe and so on while examining different prototypes to create an appropriate visual identity for this milestone. As we thought about this ‘shoe of the future’, we knew the M0.0NSHOT couldn’t look like something from the past. Not only have we reinvented the science of a sustainable shoe, we’ve reinvented the design,” said project lead Jamie McLellan in a statement.
The outer material is regenerative merino wool, which is obtained from the Lake Hawea Station animal farm in New Zealand. The midsole is made from sugar cane-based foam, which is made up of 80 percent bio-based ingredients. Allbirds and the sustainably-oriented US materials developer Mango Materials got particularly creative with the eyelets: These are made from bio-based plastics that are produced from methane – a greenhouse gas that sheep emit when they burp (how exactly this is obtained should be another interesting be history).
These CO2-negative materials enable the San Francisco brand to store more carbon than it emits in the manufacture of the shoe. And this also includes transport: the products are shipped on ships that are powered by biofuel and then transported to the warehouse in electric trucks. For the packaging, Allbirds relies on Green PE – a bio-based polyethylene made from sugar cane.
How exactly does Allbirds come up with ‘Net Zero’?
The company had the Lake Hawea Station’s operational-level specific and overall carbon footprint calculated, which was verified by New Zealand-based B-Corp and carbon certification firm Toitū Envirocare.
Allbirds then worked with The New Zealand Merino Company to translate their operational footprint into a product-level wool material carbon intensity for M0.0NSHOT. This was used to calculate the carbon footprint of the product using the Allbirds Life Cycle Assessment tool (THE LCA tool has been verified by a third party according to ISO 14067 requirements).
According to Allbirds, in addition to emissions, M0.0NSHOT’s carbon footprint also accounts for on-farm carbon sequestration, which is a departure from standard industry practice and is therefore not fully compliant with ISO 14067, unlike Allbirds’ standard products.