Lorrie Vogel works for Nike’s Considered team. As General Manager, she’s leading Nike’s research in sustainable product design. We are moving to a new economy, a “green economy”, which has no roadmap. So how does a big company like Nike do it?
From the PopTech blog:
Nike’s first area of focus was reducing their footprint and the amount of waste. They’ve reduced their waste 50% in the past ten years. They’ve also focused on energy use and removing toxics from their products. Reducing your footprint, says Vogel, will never get you to a “green economy”. That needs to be done at the product level: they were at first inspired to try and create a shoe that you could plant in the ground and it would biodegrade. Their second thought was to try and make a product that would last forever. But from a human nature standpoint, that wouldn’t work and the products would ultimately end up in a landfill.
The answer seems to be creating a closed loop product, one that would keep the materials in play. Vogel describes this as “designing for disassembly”. The two main materials they currently use are polyester and cotton, neither of which is sustainable due to their environmental impact. Vogel’s team is working on creating better materials, even with the challenges presented by cost, accessibility and a broken recycling pipeline. Vogel believes we need a sort of materials DNA so that tagged materials can be easily identified. Recycling must happen in a world of diminishing sources and ever-increasing population.
As the video she showed us demonstrating the closed loop paradigm stated, “a shoe can’t change the world, but an ethos can.”