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Sustainability in the sneaker world and the role of Nike

June 10, 2020 1:07 PM
Sustainability in the sneaker world and the role of Nike

Sustainability - a word that is on everyone's lips today and also plays an increasingly important role in the sneaker industry. There are many negative rumors and accusations, even against the big brands. Today there are many sustainable sneaker industries that have established themselves and are conquering the market with organic, vegan sneakers, environmental friendliness, fair production and other sustainable attributes. But also the big sneaker brands like Nike are doing something about sustainability - sustainable materials, sneakers and recycling are important terms here.

Given the many uncertainties, accusations, opinions and discussions on the subject of sustainability, only one thing is really certain: Namely that you can't be sure what is happening, what is sending out the right signals and what of it all really helps the environment in the end. But it is also certain that Nike, for whatever reasons, takes steps to move in this direction. And that is what we want to deal with today.

sustainable sneaker

Fair trade, organic, recycling, environmental protection! When will this also arrive in the sneaker world?

The voices in the population are getting louder and louder. Environmental protection and sustainability are topics that have now reached the masses. But what exactly is it all about? Words in the trend quickly lose their effect and at some point nobody can hear them anymore. Sustainability, that literally means something like: Long-lasting impact. It is sustainable to use something for as long as possible and to exploit its value as best as possible. And how does that fit into fashion, the sneaker world and our throwaway society?

The answer is probably: It doesn't really fit! But it should fit and it has to get attention! Sustainability as a term has arrived in the mainstream. But does that make sustainability just a trend that you have to follow if you want to play along? The fashion industry in general is often criticized. Mass production, sale on every corner, everything is sent around the world until it reaches the consumer - the money is in the foreground. But are all these accusations justified?

We are entering very difficult areas here, that much is certain. We will certainly not find a solution here today or tomorrow to make the sneaker world completely sustainable. Of course we all know that the road to this goal is long, rocky and costly in every respect. But if you want to go down such a path - and you have to - then the first step, quite simply, is a first step. And you could say that every step counts if it brings us closer to our goal. Nike takes such steps, too. One of the leading manufacturers of sneakers, sportswear and equipment is, of course, also in the spotlight and is under pressure in this debate.

Nike Nachhaltigkeit

Sustainable production in the sneaker industry and at Nike

But what can companies like Nike really do? It's clear that in a global corporation of this size, changes cannot happen overnight. New campaigns, sustainable ideas and environmentally friendly structures have to work on a grand scale, and that doesn't make the task any easier.

But let's get away from Nike for a second and look at us as buyers. Because we also have to question ourselves! We buy the products at the end of the day and at the market it's quite simple: Demand determines supply. What are we prepared to give for the environment and for sustainable products? What steps do we take as buyers in this respect? And how do we make it impossible for the big brands to change nothing!

There are of course many sustainable brands in the sneaker industry and also in fashion - but not everyone can afford that - we all want to do something for the environment, but it's easier to say: But Nike could do something. Of course we all want to spend as little as possible and save as much as possible, but in the end you have to think about how it all adds up. How important is the future, our environment and sustainability to us? Once again: We buy the products and can determine what demands we make on the brands.

And as I said, Nike also takes its first steps here. Even though many people say that this is just a drop in the ocean, that much more can and must be done and that Nike cannot achieve anything great with these small steps, you have to keep one thing in mind: Nike - every child knows this - this influential brand in sports and fashion is incredibly important for our society. How many stars promote Nike? How many people love Nike?

What I'm getting at is very simple: A brand like Nike sets trends and not just in terms of fashion! Because Nike also has the power to set and strengthen a mindset among the population! When Nike is committed to sustainability and takes the first steps to protect our environment and future, this also goes down well in the minds of consumers. What this influence ultimately achieves remains in the beautiful world of speculation. But it would be nice if things could go a little bit like this:

Nike helps athletes with their titles and victories - I also want to do top sports in a Nike!

Nike sets little signs in terms of sustainability - I also want to do something for the environment.

recycelte Materialien Nike

"If the earth dies, so dies sport"

Malicious tongues may claim that it is all just marketing, advertising and strategy driven. How much truth there is in this claim, no one can say for sure. But the fact is, Nike has a view on sustainability. But what exactly does the sports brand do anyway? To mark the occasion, let me introduce the Nike Space Hippie collection. Here we get 4 sneakers from Nike. The sneakers are produced with sustainability in mind. Here they used recycled materials and as few resources as possible. You can find more information in this blog post.

Nike Space Hippie collection - sustainable sneakers for a better world

Nike is also one of the leading suppliers for the Olympics. In general, the brand dominates the sport all over the world. So athletes and their future should probably be the highest priority. That's not the only reason why Nike is committed to the future of sports with collections like the Space Hippie styles and their 'Move to Zero' campaign. The brand wants to draw a lot of attention to this topic at this year's Olympic Games.

nachhaltige Produktion Nike
Nike Space Hippie Kollektion
Recycling Nike

Since the 90s Nike has also been running the 'Reuse-A-Shoe' program. Here, old Nike shoes are turned into grind, which is then used in new products, such as the flooring of basketball courts, playgrounds and the like. The famous Nike Air soles are partly produced with green electricity at their locations and recycled materials are also used in many sneakers and sports collections. Using waste, a general zero waste policy, reducing C02, reusing materials such as plastic bottles - these are all small steps that Nike takes. It remains to be seen in what context and in what size all this happens.

But the sneaker manufacturer himself says that they have been taking important steps towards sustainability and environmental protection for years. Nevertheless, one must always consider what else is involved in such a global corporation. Logistics, suppliers, factories - the list here is endless. If we separate the garbage in the 6-man office, don't use plastic bags for shopping and come by bike, for example, that's no problem and can be done immediately.

'Move to Zero'

This campaign is also about protecting the future of sport and the athletes. Nike wants to reduce CO2 emissions and waste to zero - an important but big goal.

The brand's European logistics center with the Swoosh also takes measures. A major environmental and footprint problem naturally also lies on the world's roads. Nike, too, ships countless orders - all over the world. That's why they are also trying to make this logistics chain more environmentally friendly. With renewable energies, such as wind, solar or geothermal energy, for example, and the recycling of waste, things are already moving in the right direction. Fairtrade certified - that is what we are striving for!

Also in terms of sustainable materials, Nike is making various things better and dealing with harmful chemicals and the like. No matter if it's sneakers, sportswear, windrunner jackets, zip hoodies or other Nike products. You can find out exactly what this looks like next week in our Newsblog!

If the earth dies, so does sport. To illustrate this, we have worked with experts from the Climate Impact Lab to show the connection between a stable climate and sporting performance and the future of our planet. We know that with the inner attitude of athletes and the associated focus on determination, perseverance and relentlessness, we can use the power of sport to make a strong case for the importance of climate protection all over the world.


Let's come to an end

Phew, not an easy subject, we all know that. But we all know how important this is for our future! You have to deal with it and especially the big brands have to take on the responsibility to do more! Fair sneakers, fair conditions, fair fashion and a fair chance for our environment. What is your opinion on the whole topic? You are welcome to send us a mail to [email protected] or to Instagram and Facebook. In the future we want to focus more on the topic of sustainability in the sneaker world and also make our contribution. Education and awareness are also important points. Look forward to an exciting project this summer!