Nike has just launched its new Considered family of shoes, designed from a Cradle-to-Cradle-ish Point of View. To create the Considered line, Nike’s designers went back to first prinicples, questioning basic design traditions in order to get to a new and better product outcome which addresses the environmental footprint required to source, manufacture, and recycle shoes. Here are some highlights:
- Leather (a renewable resource) pieces are stiched in an overlapping fashion so as to produce smooth internal seams, obviating the need for comfort liners and reducing the shoes’s material mass.
- All of those leather pieces are tanned using a vegetable-based process
- Again, to save material mass, metal eyelets aren’t used
- The two-piece outsole is designed to snap together, eliminating harmful adhesives and simplifying recyclability
- No use of PVC
- Where possible, materials are sourced locally to reduce transportation energy use
The result? Considered shoes generate 63% less waste in manufacturing than a typical Nike design. The use of solvents has been cut by 80%. And a stunning 37% less energy is required to create a pair of shoes.
Is Considered a perfect example of green design? No, but when was the last time anyone did anything to perfection? I’m just happy to see a big, public company like Nike — with everything to lose, and not so much to gain — take a leadership role in trying to forge a new market space for environmentally friendly, socially relevant products. This is a wonderful first step.
The result is a new sub-brand of shoes whose differentiation is rooted not in the multi-million dollar marketing endorsement of a basketball player, but in the physical makeup and design of the offering itself. That’s real, and I hope it’s for keeps.