Nike’s Newest Footwear Innovation? Saving the Planet, One Super Shoe at a Time

Runners, meet the Alphafly Next Nature

a collage of the nike alpha fly next% shoe on a flowery backdrop

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If you’re a runner, you’ve most certainly heard of the Air Zoom Alphafly Next%, Nike’s elite racing shoe. The performance design has shattered world records, been scrutinized for its bulbous, ground-breaking sole unit, and gotten a two-thumbs-up from the best marathoner in the world and InsideHook alike. Truly, it seems like there’s nothing the Alphafly can’t do.

Now the style is tackling its biggest challenge to date: saving the planet. Nike has upped their game in the eco-conscious department of late, releasing kicks literally made out of garbage and incorporating recycled material into hundreds of their apparel styles, with promise of more to come. And that’s manifested in one of the more surprising updates in recent memory: enter the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next Nature, designed from over 50 percent recycled material.

a product shot of the Nike Alphafly next% shoe

Part of Nike’s Move to Zero (that’s the goal of zero carbon emissions and zero waste) initiative, the Alphafly Next Nature was born out of the idea that performance shouldn’t mean forfeiting sustainable practices, a claim many are still skeptical of. But the proof is in the pudding runners. The ZoomX midsole, arguably the most critical advancement for running performance and economy in the past decade, is constructed from 70 percent recycled materials, as is the knit upper, which is actually derived from recycled Zoom Air Pods (little bubbles in the shoe that make it go fast, for those sneaker tech-illiterates). The shoe sports all the same features that make it the go-to racer for first-time CouchTo5Kers and sub-4 milers alike.

It’s mind-boggling to imagine that co-opting a shoe designed to boost the performance of some of the best athletes on the planet by 4% for a sustainability project would yield any sort of results, and that’s why Nike went through with the monumental undertaking. Because the assumption is that recyclable styles, alternate-material clothes, earth-first design are all a compromise, rather than an expectation, is the real problem, isn’t it? Nike knows this and clearly wanted to make a statement, that any shoe, even the fastest ones in the world, can be made a little bit more consciously.

With the NYC and LA Marathons quickly approaching — good luck out there to all you partaking this weekend — now’s the perfect time to pick up a pair of these performance-boosting, and more importantly sustainable, super shoes and make your race day one to remember. The Nike Alphafly Next Nature just restocked, meaning you should run, not jog, over to Nike and win yourself a pair before they’re gone again. When they do indeed go, you can pick up the other versions of the model at Nike: sadly, they’re not as eco-conscious, but they’ll still get you to the finish line, no questions asked. Happy running!

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