For whatever reason, I’ve always thought Nike was evil (Ed note: that reason is most likely this woman), and have lumped it in with all the other big retail corporations like Gap, Coke, Nestlé and so on, avoiding the swoosh at all costs if I had to buy athletic wear. But when I was looking into how I might get rid of some old running shoes, I remembered hearing about this thing called Nike Grind, a material used on basketball courts and race tracks made entirely from recycled kicks.
The more I researched, the more it seemed Nike wasn’t so bad after all. They have a goal to be carbon-neutral by 2011 and have eliminated fluorinated gases from their products, they’ve got the Nike Foundation and campaigns like Let Me Play, are incorporating organic cotton into more lines, giving $315 million in grants and donations to those in need and seem pretty open about all their manufacturing standards and wages.
While they do have a strong Canadian presence — in 2006, Nike opened a new sports training facility in Scarborough with a Grind track, made in this case from some 50,000 shoes donated from participants of the previous summer’s Nike RunTO — they unfortunately do not seem to have a drop-off location for the Reuse-A-Shoe program anywhere north of the 49th parallel. I can apparently mail my sneaks to one of their recycling depots in Wilsonville, OR, but that seems like quite a steep carbon cost.
Another option, if I want to keep things more local, is this organization in Ottawa called Sole Responsibility, which sends new and gently uses kicks over to Africa (which, fine, isn’t very local at all and would involve even more of a carbon cost, but I figure it’s justified).
Anyone want to cast a vote on which route I should go?
Image from Nike Grind