Is Nike a green company? Or for that matter can any footwear maker be green? The amount of toxic materials that go into making a shoe are far from being green.
From the days of Nike’s child labor practices in the shanty towns of Asian subcontinent to the present day Considered Design ethos and the recently launched Greeen Xchange inititative, Nike has seen its transformation in the most radical ways.
In 2011, Nike’s green design made use of 82 million plastic bottles that otherwise would’ve choked the earth.
Considered is not compromising. It’s rethinking.
Through “Considered Design”, Nike is combining sustainability principles and innovative design techniques to produce performance products. It’s goal is to make all its shoe line 100% considered by 2011 and all its apparel wear 100% considered by 2015. The heart of matter is, Nike is at least thinking and considering eliminating the toxics and waste from its processes and instead use more environmentally preferred materials. Mainly, the considered index evaluates the use of solvents, materials and the amount of waste generated.
Accelerating sustainable innovation through IP sharing
The Green Xchange program – a collaborative effort to share intellectual property with a potential to accelerate sustainable innovation was launched last year that was born out of the talks at World Economic Forum in 2009. The program makes available the patents and technologies for wider use which otherwise would’ve been only kept as intellectual property secret in the company. Besides reducing the costs of technology transfer, this will expand the use of the latest sustainable practices so that others too can use and build iteratively on the platform.
Best Buy, Mountain Co-op, IDEO, Yahoo!, Salesforce are some of its partners – who have decided to share the stage with Nike in this program.
But the problem with being open is that you come directly in the line of fire of the activists. The recent Greenpeace report on the “Dirty Laundry – Unravelling the corporte connections to toxic water pollution in China” has called into question both Nike’s and the industry at large about sustainable manufacturing practices. 60% of the environmental impact in the Nike shoes comes from the materials it uses and the linkages to China are common for any manufacturer in the industry.
But that’s the reason Nike has started on the path to green – not to see groups like Greenpeace and China as adversaries but as partners in the race. Perhaps, what Considered Design and Green Xchange can do is to address the China problem, look into its supply chain and ask its designers to to really make a considered footwear and Xchange those ideas with anyone who cares.