"Sustanova" Running Shoes


This project tries to assess the environmental impacts of Adidas running shoes "Supernova" series throughout its life cycle and investigate sustainable solutions to the product.




The Adidas "Supernova" running shoes are made of more than 15 different parts, and usually a pair of running shoes last only 3 months because the midsole gets worn down. However, the running shoes outside should last as long as 3,000 miles of running.










The Supernova running shoes are most likely made in China, and made its way to a shoe store in New York City.







The diagram shows all the different materials and processes involved in the life cycle of the shoe.













After the analysis using a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) software Quantis shows that the most impacts are concentrated in the midsole and insole, and they are all glued together with other parts of the shoe.











Our solution is to re-design the shoe so that the insole and midsole are removable. The insole is made out of Polysorb, a plant-based plastic, instead of Ethylene Vinyl acetate.

























In order to compare the impacts between different solutions, we set the functional unit to a long term 3,000 miles, which is how long the upper shoe usually lasts. 

Left: The original Supernova

Middle left: Changing the insole material.

Middle right: Changing the design of the shoe so that the insole and midsole are removable.

Right: Changing both the insole material and the design - "Sustanova".




And the result of the comparison in Quantis shows that changing the material of the insole doesn't really reduce the impacts in a long term, and the design of the shoe needs to be changed.












We also thought about the packaging and the after life stage of the product. The packaging has a return label on the back, so once your running shoes are worn down, you can mail it back to the manufacture for recycling and discount coupon.  The insole and midsole replacements are sold in the same way to encourage people to and manufacture to reuse / recycle materials.

Partner: Lena Lee

Role: Research, data analysis, concept development, information design, idea visualization.

Duration: 3 months (2012)