Helping designers make better choices
By Rick MacDonald
Nike Inc. Considered Design Lead
Imagine an online tool that helps apparel designers decrease the environmental impacts of their work and assists companies in improving innovation and building a low-carbon economy.
That was our vision at Nike seven years ago, when we created an internal tool that lessens the environmental impact of our footwear. Because of its success, Nike invested $6 million to build the Environmental Apparel Design Tool—an expanded, online version that can help other companies lessen their environmental footprint.
Launched in November, this open-source tool drives the early stages of the development process by helping designers and developers make better materials choices and reduce waste. The tool is also part of a collaborative vision set forth by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition to create an industry-wide index that will evaluate the sustainability of apparel and footwear products.
The result? Reducing waste and increasing the use of environmentally preferred materials. Another exciting aspect is the agility the tool lends to designers, allowing them to make design adjustments in real time.
By releasing the tool online, Nike wants others to improve on it. “We hope to inspire further collaboration to create global industry standards for a level playing field, encourage widespread industry adoption of sustainable design practices and have more sustainable products available for the consumer,” says Hannah Jones, vice president of Sustainable Business and Innovation at Nike.
"Nike's decision to open-source this design tool is a win-win because it leverages important intellectual capital to benefit an entire industry," says Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres, a leading coalition of investors and environmental groups that works with companies like Nike to address sustainability challenges. "Whether for sneakers or cars, it is hugely important to integrate water, chemical, energy and waste considerations into all product design. If all apparel companies use this tool, the impacts could be breathtaking, from less-clogged landfills to expanding our sustainable material industries."
MacDonald leads Nike Inc.'s Considered Design project. For more on Nike's Environmental Apparel Design Tool, visit www.nikebiz.com/responsibility/nikeenvironmentaldesigntool.
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