Talk of ssutainability often triggers the phrase “less is more” for companies looking to reduce their carbon footprint. But how can running brands use less materials in their products and still maintain style and functionality? 

For Topo the answer is simple — just don’t add in any unnecessary features and the result will be more natural-feeling footwear for runners. 

“When it comes to sustainability, we take a very holistic approach by balancing material selection, product life cycle, distribution logistics and overall corporate practices,” explains product manager Russ Stevens. 

Topo prides itself on its rigorous selection process to ensure its materials are both sustainable and durable. The intention is to create long-lasting products so runners won’t have to replace them often, which ultimately leads to less consumption. 

But less consumption isn’t the only environmental initiative for Topo. The brand has also begun including more eco-friendly materials into its product line, such as new insoles (currently in its ST-4 and MTN Racer 2 sneakers) constructed with recycled rubber and post-industrial scrap, and a new engineered mesh that’s comprised of 30 percent recycled materials. 

This shift to use more eco-materials applies not to just Topo’s products, but also every other aspect of its supply chain.

“On a corporate and logistical level, we made it a priority last year to have our carbon footprint measured through Climate Neutral so we could better understand the impact our operations have on the environment and begin to consider ways we can improve sustainability in our supply chain,” says Stevens. “We’re also excited to launch eco-friendlier shoe boxes in May, which have minimized the use of dyes, is made of 85 percent post-consumer material and is 100 percent recyclable.”

Using more recyclable materials falls in line with Topo’s mission to exclude any materials, details and designs in its products that aren’t 100 percent necessary. But the brand’s commitment to conservation goes beyond its supply chain — it also partners with various organizations to reduce as much waste as it can.

“We’re also big fans of the ‘reuse’ approach and have partnered with community organizations like Back On My Feet (BoMF) here in Boston near our HQ,” Stevens continues, explaining that each year Topo provides them with hundreds of pairs of shoes – lightly worn returns and demo fleets – for its members. “BoMF uses the power of movement to restore confidence and help people rise from homelessness.”

Topo is also a member of The Conservation Alliance, where it donates a portion of its sales every year on Earth Day. 

Yet with all the eco-efforts Topo is already working on, the company admits that this is just the beginning for building a sustainable brand.

“We know that we have a long way to go in creating a truly sustainable product, supply chain and business and that the measures we’ve taken are just the first step,” says Stevens. “We look forward to embracing the challenge to become more sustainable and are committed to improving each season.”