Nike’s Trash Talk and Jordan 23

In addition to a steady stream of environmental achievements covering many aspects of the company’s operations in recent months, Nike in February unveiled two new models of athletic shoes highlighting environmental sustainability.

Nike’s Trash Talk and Jordan 23 models showed two of the facets of Nike’s Considered design ethos, which applies new ways of looking at products and manufacturing processes to reduce waste and chemical use while maintaining high levels of performance. Lorrie Vogel, Nike’s General Manager for Considered products, sat down with GreenerDesign to explain how a product can be considered Considered.

Matthew Wheeland: Lorrie, thanks very much for taking the time to speak today. I want to talk primarily about Nike’s Considered products, and I guess the best place to start would be looking at the latest shoes in that line, the Trash Talk and the newest Air Jordan shoes.

Lorrie Vogel: Let me just clarify first that we don’t look at Considered as a product line. We kind of look at that as a design ethos.

MW: So it’s not just X-number of products, it’s a way that Nike makes shoes?

LV: Exactly, because one of the things for us is, if you produce four or five green shoes then you’re still not ultimately reducing your environmental footprint, which is really all about what we’re trying to with the Considered team.

So along those lines, the Trash Talk actually was really a fun project where the design team really was inspired by looking at some of Nike’s largest environmental footprint. And one of those areas is around reducing our waste. So what the team did was to look at the manufacturing waste that was occurring and they thought, “Wouldn’t it be interesting if we could utilize that waste again and ultimately create a product?”

And when they were working on the Trash Talk they ultimately took the leather scrap from the floor and synthetic leather and they zig-zagged stitched it and decided to see if they could create a performance product out of that. And what they managed to create is a real success: It was a great way of looking at our reducing our environmental waste. And they ultimately partnered that with Steve Nash, who has really been a champion around the environment, so it was a great marriage all around.

MW: And how much of the shoe is made from materials that would otherwise be trash?

LV: The upper itself is made all out of manufacturer’s scrap waste. The mid-sole itself is also made out of scrap from the polyurethane [PU] and foam processes. And then ultimately the out-sole also incorporates Nike Grind, which is our manufacturing waste as well.