Typical “leather” footwear is nearly impossible to dispose of or recycle properly, is constructed using a combination of chromium-tanned leather and bonded, man-made materials and is usually manufactured in a developing country with substandard (or nonexistent) occupational health regulations. Cradle to Cradle authors and Inhabitat favorites William McDonough and Michael Braungart have even gone so far as to call mainstream footwear “hazardous waste” for the feet. Flying in the face of this perception is the Nike Zoom MVP Trash Talk All-Star Game Player Exclusive, a new shoe made from left-over Nike sneaker scraps – a.k.a. trash!
We’ve brought you sustainable footwear designs before – from Terra Plana to Neuaura, Vejas, and even the original ‘Trash Talks’. Now, in honor of this week’s NBA All-Star Game, Nike is releasing just 72 pairs of The Nike Zoom MVP Trash Talk All-Star Game Player Exclusive. All-Star week has become a sneaker-buff bacchanalia, with manufacturers introducing dozens of sick new sneaker designs throughout the week. This year a shoe endorsed by a player not even playing in the game is creating quite a buzz.
Designed by Nike’s Jason Petrie and made especially for Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns, the $200 (USD) Nike Zoom MVP Trash Talk All-Star Game Player Exclusive features an upper created from leather and synthetic leather waste from the factory floor. The outsole uses environmentally-preferred rubber (said to reduce toxins, though it isn’t quite clear how), and Nike Grind, a new raw material made from recycled athletic shoes, manufacturing scraps, and shoes with production flaws.
Greenwashing whistle-blowers will scoff at the idea that a large corporation like Nike — with its history of labor troubles and less than ideal manufacturing processes — is really going green, but with 60% of the trainer market alone, any move they can make toward more sustainable and ethical practices is a good move. Over on NikeResponsibility.com they’ve outlined a plan that, among other things, sets the goal of making all Nike, Inc. facilities climate neutral by 2015. And the Nike Reuse-A-Shoe program, which has collected over 22 million pairs of old sneakers to date, is a major contributor to Nike Grind.
So, what do you think? Green, or greenwash?