Nike Trash Talk – Blog #5

Nike Trash Talk – Calvin Gorman

Corporations around the world have such a great influence on not only our environment but also our population. Large corporations such as Nike hold such strong power due to their global reach to draw attention to certain issues, in this particular case environmental issues. 

Nike is arguably the biggest and most popular global apparel brand and the corporation holds a lot of power in influencing people and drawing them to certain matters. Although Nike is trying to become more sustainable and has now joined the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, the company still has a long way to go before it can be branded as totally sustainable. Upon my research I found an initiative that Nike has started where they have partnered with Steve Nash, an All-star player for the Phoenix Suns who is very invested in environmental sustainability. The project was given the title, “Nike Trash Talk”. The collaboration aimed to create a usable and durable basketball shoe that was made entirely from manufactured waste. Senior Creative Designer for Running Shoes Kasey Jarvis, was the Nike director who worked with Nash to create the Trash Talk shoe. The silhouette of the shoe was identical to one that Nike had produced before, however this sustainable model was made entirely out of scrap material collected from Asian Nike factories. 

With Nike having such a large global reach and Steve Nash being involved in the project, many people heard about the shoe before it was even put on shelves. Thus bringing a lot of demand to the shoes and raising awareness about why the shoes were being made out of recycled material. When thinking of shoes being made with trash and other scrap materials we would imagine that they would be sold in smaller less expensive stores such as Target or Walmart however this would not draw enough attention to the project. Therefore Kasey Jarvis decided to release the shoes exclusively at the biggest NBA shoe store in New York City. Where the shoes sold out in a matter of hours. 

Overall I believe that this collaboration was definitely quite a significant step in the right direction for Nike, there is still a long way to go for them to achieve true sustainability. I also think that there should be more education into why these shoes are being made, and not just the fact that an NBA All-star promotes them.

Calvin Gorman

Consumer Product Analysis

As an avid seagoer I love anything to do with the ocean. I aim to be as environmentally sustainable when on the water, however, this is almost impossible in this day and age due to everything being made for purpose, rather than sustainability. I believe that this must be flipped and we must start taking sustainability into account as a priority, whilst still producing a product that serves its designated purpose. 

The difficulty with fishing gear is that there are many different types of braided lines depending on what the targeted species is, what the weathers like, how far offshore, and many other variables, and these different types of line are all made with different materials. Some lines such as monofilament have life spans of 2 to 3 years, whereas fluorocarbon lines can last up to 10 years. Fluorocarbon is actually the term given to a broad family of compounds including, carbon, chlorine, fluorine, and other synthetics made from hydrocarbons. Fluorocarbon is also used in Freon which is a refrigerant in air cooling systems, evidently it is not good for you. Hence, Freon was banned in the US January 1st 2020, due to health concerns and its role in destroying the ozone layer. However fluorocarbons are still used legally in the international fishing industry. Monofilament hence the name, is comprised from one single strand of line that may contain multiple different polymers chemically fused together, the most common medium for mono line is nylon. Which uses enormous quantities of water to be produced and also emits nitrous oxide which is a greenhouse gas roughly 300 times as potent as carbon dioxide. Monofilament is admired for its flexibility which makes it easier to cast, whereas fluorocarbon line is used for its sturdiness and is more commonly used when targeting larger fish or for rougher conditions. 

Zombie in the Water': New Greenpeace Report Warns of Deadly Ghost Fishing Gear - EcoWatch

In our oceans, fishing gear makes up roughly 10% of the total pollution. This is a very large percentage for solely one industry. Discarded fishing nets and fishing lines have been given the term “Ghost Fishing Gear”, this really implies how these discarded items are haunting our seas and destroying some of the most important habitats on the planet. If we can produce a product that can help reduce this pollution it would be beneficial to restoring sea life populations and helping rejuvenate coral reefs. 

During my research I found that a lot more fishing gear companies have started to experiment and transition to biodegradable fishing lines, in particular Eagle Claw Tackle which is the brand I use personally. Unfortunately many will not make the conversion to sustainable gear as very few anglers will want to buy a product that is designed to break. In response to this Eagle Claw made biodegradable lines much more affordable than other types of braid, and also imposed a 10 month guarantee on all lines made by them. I believe that this is most definitely the right approach to get people to use the product, however I also believe that people need to be made more aware of what consequences their actions have on the environment. Furthermore, government bodies should establish laws to prohibit the use of fishing gear with trace toxic materials, and aim to create a fishing industry that is completely 100% sustainable.

Cigarette Butts and the Impact on the Mediterranean Environment

The Mediterranean Sea is a beautiful water body located in the heart of the Mediterranean basin and is virtually completely surrounded by land mass. This sea plays a vital role in not only the environmental and geographical aspect of the Mediterranean however also the economical. Tourists travel from all across the globe to visit the stunning environment that the Mediterranean basin has to offer. In 2019 the Mediterranean saw roughly 304 million arrivals from countries outside of the Mediterranean basin. With tourism rates this high there are bound to be multiple negative environmental impacts in the region.

I grew up on a small island roughly 120 miles east from the coast of Barcelona – in the heart of the Mediterranean sea, where tourism accounts for more than 75% of the total economic output. I was truly able to witness first hand the damages we as a human species do to this planet for the benefit of an economy. 

This beautiful island naturally became a tourist hotspot for many people in European countries. As they can get on a 2hr plane ride, live in paradise for a week or two, and then return to their home country with no regard for their ecological footprint. 

As a resident of the island and a lover of the sea I took it as my responsibility to volunteer for multiple beach clean ups. During these beach clean ups it would be a team of as many people as we could gather, and we would work in groups of 5-6 zoning off specific areas of the beach where different teams would work at collecting all types of plastic. The plastic was then given to another group which would audit what different types of plastic were collected and categorized into groups for proper recycling.

 When I participated in these clean ups, I noticed that the most common pollutant I would see were plastic cigarette butts. These butts may be tiny and go unnoticed in the sand however they contain hundreds of toxic chemicals and are primarily made of cellulose acetate, a man-made plastic material. The cellulose acetate acts as a filter for nicotine, multiple heavy metals such as but not exclusively, lead, mercury and nickel and many toxins, including formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide and ammonia. So when a person smokes a cigarette they are trapping these toxins in the filter and then throwing them to sit there and leach into the sand or water, causing detrimental damage to the environment and animal populations. 

Finding out these impacts that the cigarette tips had on the ecosystem I questioned why there were so many of them and why so many ended up on our beaches and in our water rather than in the garbage. From a National Geographic study an estimated third of all cigarettes make it to the trash, that means 2 out of 3 cigarettes get flicked away. I then found that on a global scale an estimated 1.69 billion pounds of cigarette filters wound up as toxic waste in our environment. To put this into comparison I calculated how many lbs of plastic straws were thrown away in a year and it is astonishing how much greater the amount of cigarette butt waste is. A rough 160 million lbs of plastic straws are thrown away each year this does not even contribute ⅕ of the amount of cigarette waste in a year. So why are we constantly told to avoid plastic straws but no action has been taken to reduce the amount of cigarette waste? I believe that there are bigger elements at work here, greenwashing the population for their own companies’ financial benefit.