Sure, it may be a cliche, but if Nike wants the fashion industry to just do it, who are we to argue? The sportswear behemoth released its Environmental Apparel Design Tool to the public on Wednesday with the goal of encouraging collaboration between manufacturers, while spurring the adoption of more sustainable processes. Based on Nike’s Considered Design Index, the software-based tool helps designers make real-time decisions that shape the environmental impact of their products. You’ve seen it in action, too. The design tool helped Nike create its South Africa 2010 jerseys—the greenest and most technologically advanced kits in the history of football, according to the company—from 100 percent recycled polyester, a decision that saved 13 million plastic bottles from the landfill.

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But although the app took more than seven years and a $6 million investment to get to prime time, Nike sees it as far from complete, referring to it as a building block from which something better can be created.

Nike sees the design tool as a building block from which something better can be created.

“This tool is about making it simple for designers to make the most sustainable choices right at the start of the product creation process,” says Hannah Jones, vice president of Nike Sustainable Business and Innovation. “By releasing the tool we want others to improve on it and we hope to inspire further collaboration to create global industry standards for a level playing field, encourage widespread industry adoption of sustainable design practices and have more sustainable products available for the consumer.”

Consider this only the beginning: Nike is planning to roll out its Footwear Design Tool, Material Assessment Tool, and Water Assessment Tool in 2011.

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