Redesign apparel tag to inform consumers of choices they have to minimize environmental impacts of their clothing and footwear selections.
We want a healthy, livable, and beautiful planet. Yet to make effective choices in this regard we need accurate and accessible information. A revolution is needed. I believe the most affective way to create a revolution is to inform the majority of the population in a simple, yet powerful way. The initiation of the food label did just this. It changed the world of nutrition. It provided EVERYONE with understandable information that allowed THEM to decide on healthy smart choices.
Nowadays, labeling is a requirement on most textile and wool products. Companies are required to list the fiber content, country of origin, and identity of the manufacturer. But why can’t we take this a step farther? I propose redesigning the clothing tag and revolutionizing all tags on apparel items in a similar manner to the food label. With this redesign, we can create a MAKERS ECO-TAG. A tag that will inform millions of consumers of the impact of their clothing selections on the ecosystem and add awareness and guidance to allow THEM to decide on eco-friendly choices. The ECO-TAG is a new information source that will create a common terminology among consumers, designers and businesses as well as educate consumers of the sustainability of their clothing. Over time the incorporation of the MAKERS-TAG will transform the retail market and bring forth a new frontier of sustainable clothing.
What actions do you propose?
Environmental issues have been the topic of conversation in recent years. After energy production, manufacturing is the world’s second largest emitter of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. 80% of these emissions are due directly from production of basic materials. Some of these basic materials include materials we use for the clothing we wear everyday . Nike, being a leader in athletic wear and footwear, has a large stake in clothing manufacturing. Employing the MAKERS-TAG provides a large opportunity for Nike. They can set a precedent in environmental clothing selection and change the tides of emittance of carbon dioxide in the manufacturing sector. Nike is always “pushing the boundaries of innovation to decouple our growth from constrained resources by driving positive change across our entire value chain, across our industry, and beyond,”  and implementing the Eco-Tag would only push these ideals forward.
As climate change becomes more and more serious, laws, regulations, and social pressures will soon force businesses to make dramatic changes. The integration of the Eco-Tag on apparel items allows Nike to lead the way in a new age of sustainable consciousness and react first before outside forces force it upon them. Nike prides itself on innovation, so it is only right nike steps onto the stage of sustainability in a new BOLD way before they are left behind. The ECO-TAG is a breakthrough device and once applied, apparel industries will have to adopt. It is able to reach a sector of the value/supply chain that numerous apparel industries are unable to reach. It is the ability to affect and influence the BEHAVIORS OF INDIVIDUALS. For example to reduce material impact, Nike entirely focuses on product design, but redesigning the clothing tag will enable Nike to have an impact on the ACTIONS of the CONSUMERS, which is a task nike outlined in their Sustainable Business Performance summary as “challenging.” The MAKERS ECO-TAG guides/informs consumers to make environmentally conscious choices.
In order to make this redesign a possibility, we will need help from Nike. Nike has recently released a ground breaking app called Making. Making is designed to help DESIGNERS pick more environmental preferred materials, but why just limit the focus to designers. We can utilize this new application and transform the clothing tag to educate EVERYONE. Using data collected from Nike’s Making, we can create an impact system on the tags. This system will use the same four key areas as the Making app: Chemistry, Energy/Greenhouse Gas Intensity, Water/Land Intensity, and Physical Waste. Creating a common terminology through out the world .
The design of the Eco-Tag will be a modern colorful piece of art. It will be bold enough to draw consumer attention. The Tag will incorporate an eco-ranking or overall apparel sustainability percentage. It will be the focus of the tag and the spot consumers will use to determine if they want to buy the product. The ranking informs the consumer of the environmental impact of the piece of apparel . The higher the percentage the “better the environmental footprint of the” piece of apparel. It will be called Nike’s Sustainability Percentage. Using a percentage system will allow consumer friendliness. To continue this theme, financial incentives (5% discount) will be rewarded to consumers who's purchases have a combined Nike’s Sustainability Percentage average of 75% or higher.
In addition, a QR code or scannable apparatus can be printed along with the tag that can link customers to the Making application or a new detailed application called Makers that can give a more detailed description of the product and the environmental impacts of it. The label provides the quick access to the information but the application can be used for the consumer to dig deeper. The Makers application can also be transformed into a social media experience to further its outreach on the consumer. More details below.
An example or prototype of the MAKERS ECO-TAG is placed below:
Whats under the hood: (where do these numbers come from)
The spreadsheet provided below was the source of information for the Eco-Tag’s Impact System. It was taken from Nike’s Making app. Nike realized there was a lack of “scientific consensus regarding the relative weighting of specific environmental issues” and “insufficient publicly available supporting data”, therefore they “concentrated on [areas that had] the smallest number of issues that would still provide enough information for designers to make informed material choices.” As stated above these areas are Chemistry, Energy/Greenhouse Gas Intensity, Water/Land Intensity, and Physical Waste . ,
Table 1: Data taken from the Nike Making application .
The overall ranking/score of a material in the Nike Making app is based on a 50 point scale with each impact area contributing to the score, 9,11,13, 17 respectively. Each area is divided further to make the basis of the score. For example, chemistry is based on carcinogenicity, acute toxicity, chronic toxicity, reproductive toxicity and endocrine disruption of the material during the cradle-to-gate life cycle.” The cradle-to-gate life cycle spans the origin of raw materials, raw material processing and pre-manufacturing, material manufacturing and post-manufacture processing.” The picture below shows other impact areas and the basis of those scores .
The higher the overall score (referring to table 1) the “better the environmental footprint of the MATERIAL.” For the MAKERS-Tags, the higher the overall score the “better the environmental footprint” of the piece of APPAREL. This is the main difference between the Making application and the Eco-Tag. The reason for this, is clothing can be made from more than one material. In order to account for this, scores of each impact area as well as the overall scores of the materials are added up then divided by the number of materials in the product. This is how we get the Nike’s Sustainability Percentage of the piece of apparel.
Nike’s Sustainability Percentage = ((The sum of all of the overall rankings (from table 1) of each material in apparel item or footwear)/ (number of materials in apparel item or footwear))/50
The Possible Application, MAKERS:
The Makers application, like stated above, will be a more detailed information source, containing similar information to the Making application, but with an addition of a social media experience. Consumers will scan the Makers Tag and once the tag is scanned, a picture of your purchase will appear with the respective Nike’s Sustainability Percentage, a list of materials in the product, and a description of the product. Then you will be able to click on each of the materials, where you will get a description of it, figure out how it is used, know the characteristics of it, and know how it impacts the climate, similarly to the MAKING application.
Now, where MAKERS sways from MAKING, is its social media experience. The consumers create a profile with a picture and description of themselves. Within their profile, a feed will have pictures of all the footwear and clothing they have purchased and scanned. Next to each picture will be the Nike’s Sustainability Percentage of the product. In addition, a MAKERS SCORE will be located at the top of the profile, totaling all of the Nike’s Sustainability Percentage’s of their products scanned. The MOTIVATOR of this application will be the MAKERS SCORE. When your MAKER SCORE reaches certain amounts, DISCOUNTS and coupons on products will be available for the user. If a user scans a product with a Nike’s Sustainability Percentage of 75% or higher, it will be worth double. This will persuade consumers to buy more sustainable clothing. The application will require location services to be on, so once consumers buy the product, exit the store, and scan the tag again the ECO-Ranking will add to the MAKER score.
Then, once your profile is made you will be able to connect with other MAKERS or friends and compare maker scores or see the latest outfits they are rocking.
A feed will also be available. It will be the opening screen when the application is launched. It will show the latest products scanned by all MAKERS or just the users that you are connected with. Therefore the user will not have to search each of their friend’s profiles. In addition, links will be placed on each product throughout your MAKERs stream so you can purchase the same item online. Additionally, it will allow makers to post new sustainability designs and ideas that other makers can like and back. Users can switch their feed to Top liked/backed designs, so makers/nike employees can see the latest innovations that can change the world. Now everyone can get their shot to create a world altering product like the makers tag and get a chance for the world’s leading innovation apparel company to see their ideas.
The Makers ECO-TAG still has considerable room for improvement. It is a tag that has the potential to inform millions of the effects textiles and fabrics have on the environment and it is this widespread awareness that makes BIG changes happen! I believe the Makers Eco-Tag will revolution how we view materials.
Making individuals change their habits is a very difficult task. In order to change, they need crystal clear direction and to be emotionally driven. The MAKERS TAG hits both criteria. Climate change, environmental issues, and global warming are subjects that are easy motivators, which is where the ECO-TAG draws people in emotionally, but what is often lacking is clarity, direction and simplicity. Climate change is a complex and strenuous subject as well as revolutionizing how we think and use materials. It is hard to get your head around it and solve a problem with countless sources contributing to the problem. People over analyze the situation and start to believe the answer is too big to solve. That is why the Makers Tag is such a powerful solution. It simplifies a complicated problem. It DIRECTS the consumer in making a native solution ( a solution someone doesn’t make for them, rather they do it for themselves). They can either choose a more eco-friendly piece of clothing or not, a clear straightforward decision.
The Makers Eco Tag is not just a source of knowledge, like a paper on harmful effects of climate change. It is a tool consumers can use right there in the store, which allows them to practice making eco-friendly decisions. “Knowledge does not change behavior.” It is the practice and action consumers do on their OWN, provided from the MAKERS -TAG, that creates change. Positive feedback or amplifying ones behavior in the direction of change results from this action. You say now, I can make a difference. I can help the environment. Action appeals to you emotionally by giving you hope. Hope and the emotional drive promotes transformation within oneself (change). The MAKERS ECO-TAG is a source of change. Make a difference, make things happen… Be a MAKER.
So finally, the action we propose is that we need help from Nike. We would like to use information provided on Making to supply the MAKERS TAG with reliable data. In addition and most important, we want Nike to be the first industry to implement these tags on their products. Nike is a huge company that influences many parts of the world. By putting these tags on their products, material impact information will reach hundreds of millions of people. This will get the ball rolling and help persuade other companies to take on the MAKERS-TAG
Also, we propose additional research be done on how materials impact our environment, which would allow us to constantly rethink the ECO-TAG and add improvements.
Finally, We would like Nike to design an application that will accompany the Makers Tag to help incentivize more sustainable buying habits.
Who will take these actions?
Without Nike, the Makers tag will not be a possibility. Nike will be the company to issue the Tag. I believe that the best way to make this tag a reality and ACTUALLY make a MATERIAL REVOLUTION is getting a large innovative company like NIKE to take over the implementation of an eco-label. Global warming is a very serious problem effecting our world everyday. We do not have time to wait around for a new starting company to MAYBE gain some traction with limited resources and experience. Nike having such a huge impact on the world will have an instant effect on consumer purchases. It would be unwise of us not to utilize and appeal to Nike when we are privileged enough to have them sponsoring and judging the contest. There are so many good ideas that have potential to do great things but go no where because they fail to have the scope or knowledge. With Nike taking control of the Makers tag it can blossom and TRUELY make a material revolution a REALITY. I am not interested in creating a company from scratch and wasting time with little things and personal gain when I have the opportunity to give my idea and work with a company that have the resources, vision, and reach to really take it to the next level in a speedy fashion.
Where will these actions be taken?
Expanding beyond Nike:
A huge company like Nike taking on this innovative piece of technology, that will be placed on nearly all their products, can not go unnoticed, especially by their competitors. Social pressures, climate change effects, and the Makers tag success will only persuade other large companies to follow suit with their own eco-labels. In combination with the Makers application, data gathering of the Makers tag effects will allow the accuracy of the material sustainable index and Higgs index to improve, increasing its popularity of eco-labels further. This is a very important process because this knowledge can be used for the creation of an eco-label standard among all industries and companies. Due to eco-label’s low cost of production it’ll be easy for competing companies to create their own. Therefore, Nike will team up with large companies, the government or leading sustainable organizations to create a standard between labels. The popularity, insight and success of the Makers tags will facilitate this standardization.
What are other key benefits?
Makers Tag's will kickstart conversation of sustainability in households around the world. Children and adults will take a deeper look into preserving our world. It will inspire individuals to be involved in environmental work and eventually design new and innovative materials for the planet.
What are the proposal’s costs?
Manufacture of the Makers Tags will be extremely cheap. It will only cost the amount to print the tag on the piece of apparel or footwear. The proposal is a very lost cost solution and feasible. The design and research process will be the most expensive cost of the project. Nike will need to invest in a small team of designers and researchers.
Another aspect that could provide a fair amount of cost is the development of the MAKERS application. The application is not vital but it could prove to be a very powerful component. It could cost up to $20,000 or greater.
Months 1-3: Receive the contacts of the Nike judging team associated with Materials Matter. Set up a meeting with them or Nike’s sustainability team and pitch the Makers Tag. Once it has been approved, Nike will build a small team to work directly with myself to begin finalizing designs of the Makers Tag.
Months 4-16: Begin development of the makers application. Development will be carried out by Nike’s application team with contact with the small Makers team. The tags would be verified using the same procedure Nike used to verify the MSI (material sustainability index).
2 years: the Tag will be implemented on Nike products and the Makers application will be put on all large application stores. It is vital that we get the tag out in a relatively fast pace to have an affect on the apparel industry as soon as possible. Nike will be the first company to issue the tags.
3 years: Begin working with leading sustainability organizations and create a standard between eco-labels from gathered data collected from the Makers tag first year in the public eye.
Short term(5-15 years)- During this time period, the Eco-Tag will be in constant redesign to make it more beneficial to consumers, but still maintaining its character. Businesses will begin to adopt the Eco-Tag with Nike leading the way.
medium term(15-50 years) A majority of big businesses will adopt the Eco-tag and better awareness of environmentally friendly materials will be known. Consumers and industry will start making better decisions to help the environment.
Long term(50-100 years) Harmful materials become obsolete, due to the awareness from the Tags and a rise of new eco-friendly materials being developed.
Rethink the Food Label
1.”MSI Overview,” <http://msi.apparelcoalition.org/#/overview>, accessed Jan. 15, 2016.
2. Nike Making App:www.NikeMakers.com
3. Nike_FY 12-13_Sustainable_Business_Report.pdf
4. Climate Changed by Phillipe Squarzoni