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Nike's 'Making' app: helping designers choose most sustainable materials

Tue, 09 Jul 2013

As we're told more and more frequently about the impact of our environmental footprint on the world, it's no surprise that companies of all disciplines are examining their processes to cut emissions and waste. Now Nike has entered the fray by developing a free app giving designers a deeper insight of how green their material choices are.

The sportswear giant's new free ‘Making' app allows designers to examine the sustainability of 22 different product materials such as cotton, silk and grass-fed leather. Not only is the app informative and useful, it's also a very good-looking app – full of color, it's clear, precise and interactive.

Each material is measured in terms of: Base Material Score; Chemistry; Energy/Greenhouse Gas; Water/Land Use Intensity; Physical Waste; Recycled and Organic. They're then ranked in terms of efficiency and sustainability and measured against other materials.

The thought of spandex being used in car interiors may well raise an eyebrow or two but the value of this app to designers working in every discipline promises to be great. It may usher in a new age of material choices and inspire a new generation of designers in taking more notice of the impact of their choices and help in the development of greener material options.

Nike rolled out the app to students of the London College of Fashion for market research purposes ahead of its official release. Students from its Center for Sustainable Fashion used the app to create their collections.

Student Alasdair Leighton-Crawford said, "It was incredibly insightful to use the data in Making while creating our designs. The app helped us identify materials that have lower environmental impacts, without compromising the design process. Making shows that sustainability is not a limit, but an inspiring new way to look at product creation."

Nike has been using this open-source tool for eight years to gauge the amount of water used and the waste produced in manufacturing a particular material. In doing so, it has managed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 18% since 2003.

By Rufus Thompson