Posts Tagged ‘sustainable manufacturer’

Playing with green Air Jordans in a dead-end game

Say what you will about Nike, they know how to market and sell products. And they seem to take seriously the challenge of becoming a more sustainable manufacturer. Witness the 23rd version of its most high-profile product, the Air Jordan basketball shoe. It’s said to be Nike’s “first premium product designed according to the company’s sustainable standards.”

My question for Nike, and virtually any other manufacturer, is how do you square your boundless desire for growth and its associated requirement to make and sell more products with your stated objective of reducing your environmental impact.

Isn’t it a bit like exercising madly while eating ever-increasing amounts of low-calorie foods, and still expecting to lose weight? You can only exercise so much. Meanwhile, your caloric consumption steadily increases and eventually so does your weight. At some point, you have to start eating fewer calories.

Nike, and consumer products companies like them the world over, must at some point realize that selling ever-increasing amounts of products, no matter how low-cal (green), is an environmentally dead-end game. The earth’s natural resources are finite. Using them in smaller quantities per unit ultimately changes nothing when unit volume is always increasing. And that’s to say nothing about the carbon footprint of companies like Nike that continue to expand office space, send growing numbers of employees on countless airline trips around the globe and ship their products thousands of miles from where they are manufactured to where they are consumed.

Whether Nike or anyone else wants to admit it or not, there’s nothing sustainable about an economy dependent upon growing material consumption. Something has to give. And right now, Earth is doing all the giving. You won’t hear that in the new Air Jordan commercials.