Product designers and manufacturers are becoming more environmentally conscious. They are trying to create products from materials that are less likely to harm the planet. Nike is giving them an easy way to monitor their efforts: an iPhone app that lets them check the sustainability of their materials.
The Making app is available for free at the iTunes Store. It assesses materials in four areas of environmental impact -- Chemistry, Energy/Greenhouse Gas Intensity, Water/Land Intensity, and Physical Waste -- and scores them on a scale of 0-50. It also tells designers if a material has recycled or organic aspects. Using the app, designers can compare materials with one another to help make more environmentally friendly decisions.
Nike said in a press release that it designed Making "with insights and feedback from students at London College of Fashion’s Centre for Sustainable Fashion."
The app is built on the Materials Sustainability Index (MSI) database Nike developed through more than seven years of research on the more than 75,000 materials it uses. Publishing the database online gave manufacturers access to the information, but Lee Holman, Nike's vice president of apparel design, said in the release that the app is meant "to empower any designer around the world to make better materials choices in the initial stages of the innovation process to ultimately create products that are better for consumers and better for the planet."
Alasdair Leighton-Crawford, one of the London College of Fashion students who tested the app, said in the release that providing access to this information at the design stage can make sustainability an integral part of the manufacturing process, rather than a hindrance. "The app helped us identify materials that have lower environmental impacts, without compromising the design process," he said. Making "shows that sustainability is not a limit, but an inspiring new way to look at product creation."
According to Making's iTunes Store page, Nike recently updated the app "to ensure functionality in all geographies."
I just took a look at BlueSign--interesting. It does seem like something that goes way beyond what Nike is doing; you're right, NadineJ. And of course Nike has a vested interest in looking like they're doing something for sustainability and an app like this would raise their profile for people worried about this issue. But it seems like designers would definitely find something like BlueSign way more helpful.
Thanks for the real-world perspective on this, Nadine. So the app has flaws, I can see that from what you're saying. Do you still think it is a useful resource, in your opinion? Are there a lot of designers out there who don't know a lot about the materials they're using or thinking to use in products?
Interesting timing. I just got that app a few weeks ago.
It is very informative for anyone who doesn't know much about materials. For example, organic cotton is extremely water intensive and nylon takes over 50yrs to breakdown-if continuously exposed to sunlight (most landfills are underground). The app ranks down feathers very highly across many categories (energy, organic, etc). Anyone who's ever seen a video of how goose down is harvested would disagree. Typically, it's live-plucked. There's nothing "eco" about that.
It's nice PR for Nike to give consumers more info. But, designers and manufacturers need a good source of dynamic info in order to create products that are truly sustainable.
Yes, Chuck, I think it is and will be useful. But as Ann points out, there is a lot more that can be done, I'm sure, and more materials that can be listed. I don't know Nike's plans at this point; it would be something I'd have to look into. But surely it would be very useful if they would continue to add materials to the list and the app.
Elizabeth, now it's the time for an App for everything. So there is no wonder that such apps can be used in all areas of our day to day personal life and at enterprise level. There is no doubt that apps can increase the productivity, accountability, tracking, monitoring and even creativity at enterprise level
This is a great idea, and a great start. 75,000 sounds like an impressive number, but there are many, many materials Nike doesn't use in its products. What classes of materials are included? For example, what kinds of plastics and rubber? Any metals? And is there any intention, by Nike or another entity, of expanding this to include whatever categories aren't at present?
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