ASICS’ Commitment to a Sound Body, Sound Mind, Sound Earth

A wall at the ASICS Marathon Expo.

You could tell Lorena Martinez left the 2022 Los Angeles Marathon Health & Fitness Expo as a happy customer by the ear-to-ear smile she wore on her face.

A few moments after she picked up her racing bib for the next day’s marathon, she visited the race expo held adjacent to Dodger Stadium and bought a new pair of ASICS GEL-Kayano 28 shoes, a running hat and some new socks. She paid for it at the Fleet Feet point-of-sale checkout station and carried her gear away in a stylish, two-handled shopping bag.

The colorful new polyester bag was actually made from upcycled ASICS expo signage from the 2021 Los Angeles Marathon. ASICS gave away the durable, reusable bags that featured fragments of running images and product marketing branding to expo customers buying shoes and gear.

“That’s pretty amazing. Plus, it’s a great-looking bag,” Martinez said. “I just thought it was a cool bag they were giving away, but when they told me the story that it was recycled from the banners, I thought that was a nice touch and good for the environment to be able to reuse those materials.”

ASICS’ Initiative Sees Success at Los Angeles Marathon

A stack of bags made with repurposed materials.

After the 2021 Los Angeles Marathon — which had been postponed until Nov. 7 because of the Covid-19 pandemic — ASICS carefully reclaimed about 330 square yards of polyester mesh fabric that it had used for product marketing and branding messages around the outdoor expo. The material was sent to a Los Angeles bag company, where it was cleaned and tested for manufacturability.

After the production of a few sample bags determined that the material could be repurposed, ASICS used the remainder of the mesh to produce 1,926 shopping bags that were then given away to expo customers at the 2022 marathon expo on March 18-19.

ASICS has produced footwear with great sustainability stories in recent years — for example, the ASICS Metaspeed Sky racing shoe has an upper made from 100 percent polyethylene terephthalate (PET) material — but the brand has also gone to great lengths to lessen its impact at events, too, says Paul Lang, a Senior Merchandising Manager for Performance Running with ASICS.

“Sustainability has been a long-term part of our game plan and every time we move forward from one event to the next, we become a little more sustainable,” Lang says. “As we’re growing as a running brand and the momentum and growth are coming back in full force (after Covid), we’re going to be at more races with more runners. But we know that at in-person events, the carbon footprint can be a little wide. We’re trying to be thoughtful and cognizant of how we’re treating everything and be able to contribute to our sustainability efforts and reduce that footprint.”

The upcycled bag program was a huge success, Lang says. The recycling process of the bags was highlighted on a sustainability wall inside the expo that explained the brand’s commitment to a “Sound Mind, Sound Body, Sound Earth” and showed how each individual bag was a one-of-a-kind design. And by the first day of the expo, every bag had been given away to happy customers.

The upcycled bag program fit in well with the Los Angeles Marathon’s overall push for greater environmental responsibility. For this year’s race, more effort and initiatives were put into waste diversion, reduction of disposable plastics, efficient use of water and promotion of sustainability to its participants. Other examples included the Volvo XC40 Recharge electric vehicles it used as its pace cars and the 350,000 commercially compostable, plant-based paper cups Nuun provided at aid stations.

A More Sustainable Future for Marathoning

A woman carries a bag made with repurposed materials from ASICS.

ASICS will continue its upcycled bag program for the 2023 Los Angeles Marathon next March. The material from this year’s expo signage has been collected and cleaned and will be manufactured into bags for next year’s pre-race expo later this year.

“It’s a pretty cool take-away for the expo consumer who is a runner participating in the event,” says Frank Locasio, a Marketing Account Manager at ASICS, who oversees race expo design and branding. "When you participate in the event, you get your T-shirt and you get your medal when you finish. But as a really nice tertiary take-away, these bags are something that can be used on more of a functional level on a day-to-day basis, no matter if that’s for packing your lunch or carrying your groceries. Plus, it’s a reinforcement of the experience you had at the marathon.”

In addition to being the presenting sponsor of the Los Angeles Marathon, ASICS is also the official footwear and apparel brand for the Falmouth Road Race, Cherry Blossom 10-Mile Run, Columbus Marathon, Flying Pig Marathon and Grandma’s Marathon. Lang says ASICS will consider similar upcycling programs at some of those events in the future.

“The bag program was something that we’ll look to replicate and keep that material local and really reduce the impact as much as we can,” Lang says. “One of the first questions we heard from customers in Los Angeles was, ‘I have run this race every year, can I get another one next year?’ So it was cool to be able to tell the story to expo customers and point out all of the mesh signage that we had this year and explain that, if they come back to the expo next year, they might get a bag made from a particular sign.”

Fleet Feet, the retail sales partner for ASICS at the race expo, has been actively exploring the rising trend of environmentally conscientious products and activations in the running industry through its internal committee focused on sustainability, says Ben Cooke, Vice President of Franchise Operations at Fleet Feet.

“Fleet Feet is very receptive to our manufacturing partners' efforts toward greater sustainability,” Cooke says. “We want to find ways to reward them and tell their stories louder and amplify them as a retail partner. As a brand, we are very interested in looking at different ways to have a smaller carbon footprint in everything we do.”

The new ASICS Gel Cumulus 24 features a new upper made with recycled materials to reduce waste. Stay tuned for the ASICS x Fleet Feet colorway in the new Gel Cumulus, available only at Fleet Feet.

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