Tarkine Startup Founder Sam Burke on Making Eco-Friendly Running Shoes That Last 600+ Miles

The act of lacing up your shoes to get out the door is a simple act for runners, but the story behind those shoes is much more complicated. A new company is trying to lessen the long-term impact of running shoes on the environment.

We love our running gear – especially our shoes. The variety of brands, the colors, and the excitement that comes from that first run in a new pair is unmatched!

But runners can go through hundreds of pairs over the course of their running career, and the long-term impact of their creation and disposal have a significant environmental impact.

So how do we lessen that impact when it seems like most of the running shoes we rely on require replacement after 300 miles or less?  Today’s guest started a company that is doing things differently.

Sam Burke is the founder of Runner’s Tribe, one of Australia’s largest running media sites. Recently he jumped into the competitive running shoe industry as the founder of Tarkine, a new startup shoe company for endurance runners.

Runner’s Tribe began as a labor of love in 2008, when he and like-minded running friends felt that the Australian-based coverage of running was limited at best. The site has developed from a side hustle into a home for an enormous array of running-related information, including news, product reviews, podcasts, articles, and training diaries from elite runners.

Sam’s new company, Tarkine, is focused on making an environmentally responsible running shoe that reduces its ecological footprint in all stages of the shoemaking process. Taking on the established shoe industry sounds daunting, but starting from scratch with a new business model has its advantages.

Sam Burke on Tarkine and How to Make Running Shoes

Big shoe brands have less incentive to change when they have to answer to shareholders and earning reports. In our discussion, Sam explains how a startup like Tarkine has an easier time implementing new technology and ideals for long-lasting running shoes.

Tarkine’s first shoe is an environmentally conscious, neutral high mileage trainer that is named after the Tarkine rainforest. Some of the shoe’s environmentally friendly technology includes:

  • An upper made from plastic recycled from ocean trash
  • A uniquely designed, long-lasting outer sole
  • Insoles that can biodegrade in a compost pile in 90 days
  • Laces that have biodegradable material
  • Shoes that can be sent back to the company to recycle

As Sam puts it, the primary goal of Tarkine is to “create a kick-ass running shoe!” Ultimately the company hopes to sponsor elite runners and help elite juniors on their path to success.

You’re bound to enjoy Sam’s knowledge and refreshing honesty about the running shoe industry and what it takes to make a lasting change!

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