Making aims to inspire designers and creators to make better choices in the materials they use.

The ranking system helping designers be more sustainable

How can we enthuse producers and consumers in engaging in sustainable practices? An increasingly popular way is to turn to the world of gaming for inspiration. Making is a material rating tool developed by Nike, aimed for designers to make better choices in the materials they use. Through a scoring framework, the app allows users to collect points by choosing materials causing less environmental footprint.

Making is Nike’s in-house sustainability reference tool turned into an open information source. The app, first introduced in 2013 and in constant development, aims to enable designers, product creators or curious consumers to make informed choices regarding materials based on the body of information that is included in the app. Making considers material characteristics in four different categories: Chemistry, Energy/Greenhouse Gas Intensity, Water/Land Intensity and Physical Waste.

The app uses information from the Nike Materials Sustainability Index (NMSI), a database containing information about the environmental impacts of different materials. This ‘cradle-to-grave’ index, informed by publicly available data collected by Nike during a seven-year material research and analysis phase during which 80,000 materials were assessed is adapted by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), one of the textile industry’s foremost alliance for sustainable production, since 2012. The index is also available online, here.

« Seven years' research went into Making, during which 80,000 materials were assessed »

The index allows for members of SAC to submit, review and compare data and scores with other producers. Thus at best, it works as a sort of Wikipedia for business-insiders, encouraging data transparency and collaboration across the apparel and footwear industry.

With this potential, a material-rating tool like Making has limitations when considering the overall sustainability of a material, as it doesn’t consider the long-term perspective. For example, heavy water resources required by one given material at the production phase might lower its score in the Making app, while the lifetime of that material might in fact be longer than that of a material gaining higher scores. Wool is a good example of a material that is usually ranked as poor when looking at the material phase only, when it is in fact very durable and resilient in the long-run. These are perspectives to bear in mind when talking about sustainability in fashionafter all, it’s about making things last.

Read more about Making here.

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