My Icebreaker running socks are my first pair that come with specific left or right foot designations — and I have to say I love the more exact fit. The stretchy fabric gently hugs my feet, the red trim lends a simple design touch, and slightly thicker cushion around the toe, heel, and ankle keep my feet blister-free.
Though these socks are made of merino wool from sustainably raised New Zealand sheep, they’re not thick or heavy — or scratchy — as you might expect from wool socks. In fact, the socks are soft, lightweight and breathable — and also great at modulating your own temperature. My besocked feet don’t get hot while running — but I’ve actually taken to wearing Icebreaker socks when padding around the apartment, because they keep my often-cold tootsies comfortably warm at home.
We’ve written a lot about Icebreaker from MNN, because this eco-friendly company makes green look good (even Sarah Palin’s a fan!). This athletic wear company lets customers track their socks (or other athletic gear) by entering the item’s “baacode” into Icebreaker’s website to find out where exactly in New Zealand the sustainable wool comes from. My own socks — with the code BVB1461 — came from Cairnmuir Station, described as a place “south of the township of Cromwell,” where 4,000 merino sheep and 45 cattle are raised.
While the New Zealand-based company’s clothes do have a sizeable transportation footprint because the raw materials obviously have to be shipped to the U.S., much athletic gear out there also has huge footprints not just from shipping the final product from far-off places (usually China) but also from shipping its raw, often synthetic materials all over the place during the manufacturing process. The Icebreaker socks I’m wearing were actually manufactured in the U.S. — before getting put in pairs by FSC-certified, plastic-free folding cardboard wrap pack!
Icebreaker’s trying to get people to move away from ungreen and often smelly, grungy-looking synthetic fabrics to work out in greener gear made of natural fibers — that will also biodegrade at the end of their use. So far, I’m a fan of the socks — and anticipate replacing more of my sock collection with Icebreakers as the synthetic pairs I currently own wear out.
Curious about sustainable wool garments from U.S. sheep? Though I’m not aware of athletic clothes made from U.S. wool, I am a fan of a newish winter wear company called Ramblers Way. Started by Tom Chappelle of Tom’s of Maine fame, Ramblers Wear makes warm underthings for Americans who want to support the sustainable and locally made American wool clothes.
Bottom photos courtesy of Icebreaker