In just one calendar year, the apparel and footwear industries account for an estimated eight percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. That’s nearly four metric gigatons of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere each year. 

In the face of various environmental, social and governmental challenges, the run specialty industry and its respective brands and retailers must adopt new strategies in an effort to reduce its carbon footprint and extend the life of our planet.

One of the more intriguing and ambitious efforts in the run specialty industry is being spearheaded by Keri Straughn and Christian Fyfe, owners of Palmetto Running Company in Hilton Head Island and Bluffton, SC. Running Insight reached out to the sister-brother combo to explain the Low Impact Alliance and how the run specialty industry can get involved and benefit.  

Keri Straughn: “To do our part, in late 2021 Palmetto Running Company launched The PRC Eco-Initiative with the collective goal to purchase and sell more sustainable, recycled and eco-friendly products as well as to find new ways to improve the sustainability of our planet and, more directly, our local environment. With the support we received both in our local community and the overall running industry, as well as being recognized at the 2021 Running Event with the Impact Award presented by On, Christian and I felt it was the right time to take our mission to the industry level.”

Christian Fyfe: “In December we launched the Low Impact Alliance, an industry-wide alliance of brands, retailers and events to promote transparency and environmental responsibility within the running industry by educating, advocating and inspiring action for impactful change. Since then we’ve built a growing list of members on all industry levels and have connected with many leaders in our industry, advocating for the necessary changes that need to be made towards eco-friendly manufacturing and shipping processes, responsible material sourcing and sustainable end-of-life practices and opportunities.

“Climate change and sustainability are very complicated and often hard to talk about, especially when the wording and metrics haven’t truly been defined or agreed upon yet as they pertain to the running industry.”

Straughn: “This year we are focusing on starting the conversation through webinars and educational resources. We are going to be focusing on educating retailers on how to train their staff on the efforts being made by brands in the industry and how to bring that up when speaking to their products with customers. We will also be going over how to host local events in your community, marketing topics on social platforms and then finishing the conversation in-store.

“A major goal for 2022 is educating retailers on the environmental impacts of the running industry and how they can make small strides for big change while creating internal demand for a more responsible running industry.”

Fyfe: “Another important initiative for this year is to inspire the global running community to be as environmentally minded as they are performance minded, becoming their own advocates for change and influencing and evolving consumer behavior to think holistically about the full lifecycle of a product. Retailers must understand that we are the true influencers of our industry. It’s time to use our power for good.

“We view the Low Impact Alliance website as the resource to refer to regarding environmental responsibility within the run specialty space. Not only will it offer retailers a clearer view in to what every brand is doing to lower their carbon footprint, it will also provide retailers and race directors a framework on everyday sustainable business practices and a detailed guide to directing eco-friendly events.”

Straughn: “The LIA website will also include a forum for anyone, whether a member or not, to ask questions on how to run their business or events more sustainably. None of us are experts at this and many of us are just getting started. We feel like this will provide a great platform for everyone to come together to share ideas and inspire one another to do our part in protecting our planet.

“Most recently, the Low Impact Alliance was invited to speak at the 2022 Brooks Symposium at Brooks headquarters in Seattle, WA. Following an inspiring presentation on their People and Planet Path, led by Dave Kemp, Brooks director of corporate responsibility, Brooks voiced their appreciation for the work the Low Impact Alliance is doing and announced that they have officially joined as a brand member.

Fyfe: “Surrounded by the entire Brooks executive team as well as store owners from the top running stores in the country, Keri and I were given the opportunity to present the Low Impact Alliance and our mission to  industry pillars that we have looked up to for many years. It was a surreal experience.”

Straughn: “The outpouring of support and admiration we received from everyone in attendance was incredibly rewarding.”

Fyfe: “It truly validated the work we are doing and gave us hope that the running industry is ready to make the responsible and necessary changes needed to foster the success and longevity of both our industry and planet.” 


The Low Impact Alliance Explained

The Low Impact Alliance is a global organization advocating for a more responsible running industry. Together it seeks to promote transparency and environmental responsibility by educating, inspiring action and advocating for change. 

• Advocating for transparency and sustainability in all facets of the running industry, from supply chains to retailers. By advocating for more sustainable products and production practices, the industry can lower the environmental impact running has on the planet.

• Educating retailers on the ecological impacts of the running industry and how they can make small strides for big change. By educating retailers of the small changes they can make to both lower their own environmental impact as well as become advocates of change, LIA can help create internal demand for a more responsible running industry.

• Inspiring the global running community to become their own advocates of change. By inspiring the global running community to be as environmentally minded as they are performance minded, LIA can change consumer behavior to think holistically about the full lifecycle of a product. 

From the store level and all the way to the manufacturing and shipping of goods by major brands, the LIA goal is to foster the success and longevity of both our industry and planet. 

Brand and Retailer Partners include: On (co-founders), Brooks, Nike, RIA, Fleet Feet, Around the Crown, Trials for Miles, Palmetto Running Company (co-founders), Mill City + Saint City Running and A Runner’s Mind. 

Commit to joining the alliance and becoming an advocate for change in the industry: