In these crucial times that we're living in, it's now become more apparent than ever to realise how our actions impact the environment. There have been many reports of previously polluted skies clearing up, as well as cleaner waters welcoming the return of wildlife, all thanks to a slowdown in commerce on a worldwide scale.
While annual environmental movements such as Earth Hour and the most recently passed Earth Day have managed to create more awareness for the need to be environmentally conscious, taking charge and caring for the environment shouldn't just be a one-off annual event. It's important that we start tackling the issue now with forward-thinking initiatives and plans aimed at easing the impact we have on the environment.
That's where Nike has stepped up. The world's largest sportswear brand is taking concrete steps to ensure that its practices are sustainable and less harmful to the environment for the long haul. 'Move to Zero' is Nike's promise in ensuring that it adopts a zero carbon and zero waste policy in its manufacturing processes. Nike refers to this as a way to 'help protect the future of sport', citing examples and statistics of how climate change has affected athletes' performances and could be a potential health hazard. And for many climate-dependent sports such as snowboarding and skiing, the adverse effects of climate change could potentially erase the possibility of such sports all together.
Nike is aiming to convert all of its owned-and-operated facilities into eco-friendly ones that are powered using 100 percent renewable energy by 2025. It will also reduce carbon emissions across its global supply chain by 30 percent by 2030, in line with the Paris Agreement of 2015.
What the brand has already done and will continue to do is using sustainable materials in creating its dependable line of sportswear—everything from apparel to shoes and accessories.
For starters, the soles of the Nike Air series—as the name suggests, they provide wearers with the feeling of 'walking on air'—are made with at least 50 percent recycled materials. Additionally, they're also made in facilities using 100 percent renewable energy. One of Nike's technological advancement, the Nike Flyknit, makes use of precise cuts and patterns to ensure that waste is minimised. Nike reports that the Flyknit construction produces an average of 60 percent less waste as compared to traditional footwear upper manufacturing. The Flyknit too is made up of 100 percent recycled polyester yarns.
The Nike Flyleather is another of the brand's invention with the sole purpose of producing less environmental waste. Unlike the usual synthetic leather, Flyleather is formed from at least 50 percent leather manufacturing wastes that are bound together. The process makes use of water but is still much less than that of traditional leather manufacturing. And on the performance front, the Nike Flyleather is 40 percent lighter and five times more abrasion-resistant than full-grain leather.
Then there are the use of more sustainable materials that are already available in the market—sustainable cottons and sustainable blends. With sustainable cottons—100 percent organic cotton, recycled cotton, and Better Cotton Initiative-licensed cotton—the aim is to fully employ these better variations of cotton in all of Nike's cotton-based products. Similarly, the use of more sustainable blends such as recycled polyester with organic cotton will help to reduce the consumption of water and chemicals during manufacturing processes.
It does sound like quite an idyllic feat for a single brand to champion the use of more sustainable ways of manufacturing products, in hopes of combating climate change. Nike is by no means the only company that's making a concerted effort; there are other players too. But with Nike being the huge brand that it is—and with such a global following—these efforts will not come unnoticed and perhaps, fuel for a greater industry-wide change.
Stay tuned for more sustainability-focused initiatives by Nike in the coming weeks.