Going Green with Nike Shoes

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					„Going Green‟ with Nike Shoes

By Mercede Ogan Consumer Behavior Spring 2008

As the world is deteriorating, it is becoming more important now than ever for not only consumers but also businesses to begin „going green.‟ Almost every person in the world wears some sort of a shoe or another. Protection for our feet has become a necessity. I am proposing that Nike should begin transforming their sneakers into ecofriendly shoes. Nike‟s sneakers are currently made out of rubber bottoms, canvas or leather uppers, and have hazardous and toxic gules and adhesives holding it all together. I am suggesting sustainable and environment friendly footwear that uses products such as organic cotton and recycled rubber. A lot of the materials Nike use to make their athletic shoes have more environmentally sound substitutes. The current upper part of the shoe is generally made out of canvas and/or leather and could be substituted with organic cotton. Organic cotton is grown around the world, including Turkey, United States, India, and West Africa. Organic cotton farming is better for the environment because it, “avoids the use of chemical pesticides, insecticides, fungicides and defoliants (Speer 2005).” Organic farming puts a focus on building healthy soil by using crop rotations and natural fertilizers such as compost. “In 2003, 55 million pounds of pesticides were sprayed on cotton alone (Speer 2005).” Pesticides and insecticides can cause great harm to the human body, including cancer. These sprays also destroy the soil and make it unable to be used over and over again. This is why it would be beneficial for Nike to begin using organic cotton in replacement of regular cotton, canvas, and leather for their shoe products. Nike could also begin using recycled rubber to create the bottom of their sneakers instead of making new rubber for every shoe. Most rubber comes from petroleum. Raw

materials are being consumed at a high rate and the environment is dwindling away. By using recycled rubber, Nike would be reducing the consumption of petroleum and oil. Nike would actually be paying less because with the prices of oil increasing, the price of rubber from petroleum will be increasing as well. Rubber companies are beginning to sell recycled rubber powder as substitutes. “The rubber powder, available in 80 to 200 and finer mesh, is more than just a substitute for material, but competes against all the ingredients in a compound (Noga 2004).” Rubber powder works the same as regular rubber, it is just made from recycled tires and other rubber products, increasing the natural resources and improving the quality of the environment. A third option for Nike to use for their shoes would be 100% natural latex. “Natural latex is a natural renewable material and is biodegradable (“Natural Latex”).” Not only are there environmental benefits but natural latex also is a more breathable product, which is perfect for designing shoes, because people sweat and feet sweat. Customers would be drawn to a “breathable” product, especially when it comes to shoes, because people don‟t like their feet to smell. If the shoe is allowing air to circulate, this could reduce fungi and other disgusting feet issues. It would be ideal for Nike to promote their product in this way. The natural latex is a breathable material allowing a customer‟s feet to be more comfortable. Natural latex will keep feet warm in the winter and cool in the summer. As far as packaging in concerned, Nike could start using recycled bags. They could take recycled plastic and cardboard/paper bags and reuse them. By breaking down the materials and making new bags, this would ensure that Nike could still put their distinct “swoosh” logo on the bags while incorporating a more sustainable product. Nike

could also start a recycled bag/ shoe box program at their stores. If a customer brings back a bag or shoe box from Nike, they could receive a discount or gift card. This would promote the continued use of Nike and the reuse of packaging. Nike should promote the actual shoe by using internet blogs and chat rooms. Nike could create a buzz, not only on normal retailer websites, but also on “green” and environmentally friendly websites. If they kept the design of the shoes, overall image of the shoes, and incorporated the organic touch, Nike would not only be appealing to their regular customers, but would be attracting the customers that are in tune to the environment and nature as well. In addition, they could put ads in adventure and outdoor magazines, targeting people that are out enjoying the environment. Nike could also sponsor marathons and other runs/walks, because a lot of the times, the people that are involved in these types of events are aware of their bodies and what is going on around them. It could also be a good idea to sponsor hikes and other outdoor recreational activities. The type of customer that wants a natural/organic shoe is the customer that spends most of their time outside, enjoying the environment. They don‟t want to wear a shoe that they know is taking this environment that they love so much away. If Nike hosts or sponsors these outdoor activities, the people they are trying to market to, will have a greater chance of noticing the new shoe product and more liable to look into a purchase. I don‟t think that it would be as effective to promote on TV, because these people are not sitting at home watching TV, they are out doing. The price of these shoes could actually be sold less than what most Nike shoes are selling at currently. The organic and natural products would eventually drive the cost of making a shoe down, allowing Nike to sell the shoes for a cheaper more affordable price.

On the flip side, Nike might be able to get away with selling the shoes for a more costly price because there are not many organic shoes being sold. Also, people will sometimes pay more for a name they recognize. Nike is a worldwide known brand is generally associated with good quality products and positive feedback. Their name alone might sell the new products themselves, making it easier to raise the cost a little bit, because people will buy the shoe regardless the price. To begin promotion, Nike should start out targeting the Pacific Northwest. The Northwest is where the biggest population of so called “tree huggers” exist. People in the Northwest are very concerned with natural resources and preserving the environment. Here, is where the biggest market would be for a type of shoe that is based around organic and recycled products. If the shoe catches on there, then Nike could begin promoting across the United States. Once the general US population has taken on to the product, then Nike could attempt to gain customers worldwide. It would be beneficial for Nike to look into changing their shoe product to a more natural, environmentally safe product. By switching from canvas and leather to organic cotton uppers and switching new rubber to recycled rubber or recycled rubber powder, Nike would be cutting down on the resources they are using up. They would be avoiding putting deadly chemicals such as pesticides into the air and preventing soil degradation. In effect, they would be making a safer product for the environment and a shoe that everyone can enjoy.


100% Natural Latex. Eco Choices. http://www.ecobedroom.com/1/beds/latex.html Bowerman, Bill, & Knight, Phil. The Modern Athletic Shoe. http://inventors.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http://web.mit.edu/invent/iow/bo wermanknight.html Noga, Edward. (2004, June 28). Lehigh takes aim at recycled rubber market. Rubber & Plastic News. Vol.33 Issue 24, p6-6. Retrieved April 25, 2008, from EBSCO database. Organic Cotton Facts. Organic Trade Association. http://www.ota.com/organic/mt/organic_cotton.html Speer, Jordan K. (2005, May). Organic Cotton: Where, Why, and How. Apparel Magazine, Vol. 46. Issue 9, p29-31. Retrieved April 25, 2008, from EBSCO database. Suzuki, David. (2002). The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature. Vancouver: British Columbia. Canada

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