No matter how many lives I give my running shoes – from training to casual street wear to yard work to the donation pile – eventually they’ll end up in a landfill. Once there, the standard EVA midsole material in a running shoe takes upwards of 1,000 years to biodegrade.
As part of its effort to become a greener company, Brooks has developed BioMoGo, an environmentally friendly alternative to their MoGo midsole that sports a non-toxic natural additive that encourages anaerobic microbes to chow down. So they break down 50 times faster – but only in the landfill.
Sounds crazy, I know. But according to Brooks, extensive tests prove it works. In your closet or pounding the pavement, the BioMoGo midsole is as durable as the regular stuff, but when exposed to the triple whammy of a biologically active landfill – high microbial load, low oxygen and adequate moisture – the BioMoGo midsoles break down into non-toxic reusable byproducts – in only 20 years.
When I switched to Brooks a couple years ago, it was because they were better for my feet, not because of BioMoGo. In fact, I had no idea that my new Adrenaline running shoes had “green” midsoles until I heard about BioMoGo on a bus at the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City. The guy in front of me worked for Brooks, and when he heard I was with SustainAbler, he told me about the magic microbe-encouraging additive they’d developed to help their shoes biodegrade.
“Hey, I’m wearing my Brooks,” I told him.
“Do you have a green dot on your MoGo logo?” I took off my shoe to look. Sure enough – I was wearing BioMoGo.
I’ve noticed no difference between these and any other running shoes I’ve ever worn. If anything, they last longer. But it’s nice to know that, when it matters most, my shoes will fall apart.
Brooks calculates that over 25 years, they can reduce landfill waste by nearly 30 million pounds. But they’re not keeping this secret sauce to themselves. No, the company feels so strongly about the importance of greening the running shoe industry that they are going “open source” – sharing the recipe for their non-toxic natural additive with any and all footwear companies that want it.
Let’s spread the word. Call and ask your favorite shoe company: how long will my shoes sit in the landfill? Twenty years, or a thousand? If enough of us call, hopefully they will all take the hint and add the microbial midsole munchers to their shoes.