Nike has partnered with Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) in the Open Challenge for Sustainable Materials, an initiative that asks apparel designers and developers to use sustainable materials listed on the Nike Sustainable Materials Index and build a new database about the suppliers.
RHoK, an umbrella organization of hackers founded in 2009 by Google, Yahoo, the World Bank, NASA and Microsoft, asks the community to help solve “featured problems” through open technology — in Nike’s case, it’s how to encourage designers and manufacturers to make environmentally sustainable decisions when selecting materials for their products.
Sixty percent of the impact of a Nike product is in its material makeup, according to the company. Nike worked with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and Duke University for the past eight years to develop the sustainable materials database; the company’s now offering it as a free API. Nike and RHoK says they want manufacturers to use the API and build a tool that lets shoe and clothing makers worldwide select materials based on sustainability, and right at the point of material selection — for example, comparing organic cotton from an average supplier to nonorganic cotton from a better supplier, and being able to figure out quickly which is better.
Nike says it has “great data” about materials’ sustainability. But it needs great data about the suppliers. The company ultimately wants to combine the tools to help people make better materials decisions, Nike says.
RHoK has also partnered with NASA to build a view from the International Space Station in any direction, creating an OpenStreetMap-type database that is an “OpenStarMap,” the organization says.
Earlier this month, Nike along with Coca-Cola, Ford, H.J. Heinz and Proctor & Gamble formed a strategic working group to accelerate the development and use of 100 percent plant-based PET materials and fiber in their products.