Nike iPhone App Helps Make Products More Sustainable

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."

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