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NIKE Just Did It




Nike, Bill Bowerman and ‘Shoe Dog’ Phil Knight, created a megadollar retail trend that put Nike and their “Just Do It” slogan in the giant spotlight of Popular Culture. Affectionally known as the infamous-famous “Tink,” their shoe designer joined Nike’s early days for a trifecta of retail acumen and profiting. Sales and profits soared for years then came to an abrupt halt when the world began to embrace Mother Earth and fight those that threatened her, including Nike. Nike is known for its heavy inventory and profitable rubber shoe trends, which begs the question: where do Nikes go when the die, to shoe heaven or plastic hell? Writer Jessica Kuepfer explores this same question in her article “Where do running shoes go to die?” She claims, “[e]ven if you are not a runner or athlete, but get your recommended 10,000 steps a day, your shoes can be past their prime in as little as two months after purchase.” Nike shoes are a collector’s dream item as others collect stamps or art, and in “1972 Nike "Moon Shoe" [was] sold at a Sotheby’s for a price $437,500 (£350,395) to Canadian collector and businessman Miles Nadal - breaking the record for the most expensive trainers (sneakers) sold at auction” (Stephenson). While Nike may arguable be the most successful footwear/sportswear company ever, is Nike “Just [Doing] It” for the environment? Although they have come under fire for polluting Chinese rivers and employing under paid workers, their website claims the company is on a “journey toward zero carbon and zero waste” (Nike). However, when one of their brands, Nike Air “contain[s] at least 50% recycled materials and are made with 100% renewable energy” (Nike), it sounds only halfway sustainable and they are only talking about the sole. On further research, I discovered Nike currently grinds down their old shoes and reuses them to make new ones; the caveat being if these old shoes are brought to a Nike store that accepts them. Nike’s competitors claim a sustainability program, but only Nike can claim zero-waste, also known as circular economics or circularity (Ellen MacArthur Foundation). Zero waste means that “as materials come into a plant, none of it is sent to a landfill or a disposal company after the product is completed. Scraps are reused, new markets are found for byproducts and the rest of the materials are sent to a recycling company (Bigham). Not only do all apparel companies need to be a zero-waste company to deserve our dollars, but also consumers need to realize their buying power can control zero-waste and sustainability. Our dollars are votes. Nike asserts itself as the premier environmentally conscious retail giant of global sportswear through promoting the globalization of sport, using McDonald’s system of control, and through dominating the global sports-media complex. 

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