Looking to build on its responsibility as consumers, retailers and people to care about the planet and how we are treating it, the Low Impact Alliance (LIA), the running industry collective made up of retailers, brands, events and athletes throughout the world committed to acting and advocating for environmental responsibility throughout all facets of the industry, has unveiled its ambitious Better Bins initiative.

In 2021 the creation of the LIA was inspired by the lack of initiatives, transparency and value on sustainability in the running industry. More than 22 billion shoes end up in landfills every year and Americans alone throw away more than 81 pounds of clothing and textiles per person per year. Running shoes, clothing and accessories are also extremely energy intensive to make, can take hundreds of years to break down and cause pollution throughout the manufacturing process.

One of LIA’s founders, Christian Fyfe (in photo at The Running Event Trail Cleanup in Austin, TX, last year), explains that the goal of the LIA is to “call people in instead of calling people out” and to start tackling the big issues with small change. They aim to educate, advocate and inspire change within the global running community.

The latest initiative of the LIA is the Better Bins product recycling program. The Better Bins are a recycling center that equips retailers with the opportunity to provide their consumers a place to recycle shoes, clothing, socks and nutrition. LIA has partnered with Recover, Sneaker Impact and GU/TerraCycle to create a one-stop recycling center for individuals to utilize in their local run specialty shop. This allows individuals to recycle nutrition packets, clothing, socks and shoes.

The goal is to not only divert these products from landfills, but also to get consumers comfortable with the concept of recycling, diverting and thinking about where their products are coming from and ending up.

The Better Bins pilot program is launching this month and these bins can be initially found in 15 storefronts, including Rochester Running Co. (NY), Brooklyn Running Company (NY), Run Hub Northwest (OR), The Exchange Running Collective (TN), Palmetto Running (SC), A Runner's Mind (CA), Get Fit (TX), West Stride (GA), Red Coyote Running Co (OK) and Run In (SC). 

“We are so excited to roll out this program and hope to develop this program in the coming years as the marketplace adapts to a more circular and sustainable economy,” says Calista Ariel, the coordinator of the Better Bins Program.

Retailers interested in learning more about the LIA and signing up to be on the waitlist for the Better Bins program can go to www.lowimpactalliance.com.