But its already running late
Recently adidas dropped their new Game Mode silo, which are boots that are made from 50% recyclable plastic and are available at a much lower price point. This also come at a time when Nike is pushing all of the new club kits that feature 100% recycled polyester fibre that is made from recycled bottles. It is part of Nike’s much bigger Move to Zero campaign. Along with Puma’s leaked new Ultra that is part of a collab with the renewable fashion company First Mile, and adidas’ and Parley’s continued team up, the industry seems to moving towards a more renewable, sustainable future. We have seen this before and though it looks like it will stick this time, all of this should have started years ago.
It was 2010 when Nike first launched kits made out of recycled plastic as part of the national team kit launches for the 2010 World Cup. Looking back, it seemed like it was the first steps part of a wider movement towards the use of recycled materials. However, the hype didn’t continue and Nike kind of seemed to give it up until the launch of the original GreenSpeed released for the London Olympics in 2012.
The GreenSpeed was a huge step forward in terms of materials. The boot was made of “from a mix of material including 50% castor beans and 50% plastic where the sock liner is made from 100% castor beans. the laces, tongue and lining of the Nike GS, are formed from a minimum of 70% recycled materials while the collar and toeboard have a material makeup including least 15% recycled matter.”
Since it was a concept boot it was thought at the time that at least some of the design or material would make it on to future releases. But we got nothing. And even though the 2018 “remake” the GS360 was a better boot and cheaper, there was no connection to the environmental message of the original. They just went for the hype, but not the actual point of the original boot. Now, to be fair to Nike, they have been running their NikeBetterWorld campaign for years. But really, they barely push it.
Mizuno also recently launched CREW21 to head up their Environmental Management System in order to help the supply chain become greener and to help create eco-friendly products. The Runbird has had a grading system for a long time about the impact their products have environmentally but CREW21 is a welcome addition to this.
Nike could’ve changed the entire game back in 2010. They were still one of the biggest sports brand in the world and the market would have easily followed anything the Swoosh decided to do. The ball was dropped and we are only just now getting to more focused, sustainable products. And really that’s only because smaller brands, like AllBirds have made a big impact on the market as a whole.
Instead, we see brands like the Big Three jumping on the sustainability bandwagon now that’s suddenly relevant (read: lots of money can be made from it). And this is important. Annually, the fashion industry accounts for 10% of global greenhouse admissions and 20% of wastewater, which is more than flying and shipping combined. So while it is a good thing that brands are getting on board, one has to wonder how much better things would be if brands started this ten years back.
We also need to be careful that brands aren’t just engaging in greenwashing. That is, seemingly being environmentally friendly on the face to make themselves look good but in reality, still being as much of a polluter as before. This is especially true given that many brands still make a lot of their training gear, kits and other clothes out of polyester. Polyester is made from fossil fuels and with the decrease in the use of oil for cars, a lot of fossil fuel companies are switching to plastic production to help keep their business up and plastic could possibly account for 20% of global oil usage by 2050. Because of this, clothing is another part where brands need to continue to improve.
What this all means is that while yes, we are moving in the right direction, this is still happening much slower than it should have. We must continue to push these companies to be greener. We can and should expect more. The climate is too important to move sluggishly.
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