Once the target of NGOs and activists who attacked the company for the child labor that occurred within its supply chain, Nike has not only become a more socially responsible company, but a sustainable manufacturer. In fact, Nike has been a leader in the drive to find the most high performance and ecologically responsible materials possible for its line of athletic shoes and apparel.
The key to Nike’s dramatic change in its business practices is its Materials Sustainability Index, or Nike MSI. Nike challenges its suppliers to provide materials that as best as possible have the lowest impact on the planet and the highest organic and recycled content and are also expected to participate in certification programs that monitor the environmental impact of everything from leather to polyester.
With 30 different materials that can go into one pair of shoes and over 16,000 that can go into all of the products in any given year, the challenge for Nike to live up to such expectations is huge.
And representative of the huge shift from an era when companies used to protect their technologies with a level of secrecy that would make the CIA blush, Nike is sharing this information with companies within and outside its industry. In fact, Nike is even working with Random Hacks of Kindness in the quest to find breakthrough and disruptive technologies that can develop equal or alternatives to materials such as leather. But Nike is not only challenging vendors; customers are very much a part of this exciting new era of sustainable business.