As much as a company that produces disposable goods can be, Nike has long been a leader in sustainability. The company first went green in the early 1990s, when it started to recycle old shoes and donate the material to contractors that build sports surfaces, like outdoor tracks. In 2006, the shoe giant launched an internal division, Nike Considered Design, which incorporates waste from the factory floor into clothes.
But now the company has taken an almost unheard of eco-leap.
In Shanghai, Nike has partnered with Taiwanese ecocentric architectural firm Miniwiz Sustainable Development to build a concept store from the ground up with heaps of upcycled garbage. The retail outlet utilizes 5,500 soda cans, 2,000 plastic water bottles and 50,000 old CDs and DVDs, according to Miniwiz.
All of the materials used to build the structure are derived from urban waste and are mechanically assembled—not glued or cemented—so that they can be re-recycled at the end of this Nike store’s days. The old DVDs make up the shop’s ceiling panels, water bottles are used for the tension cables, and connection joints are fashioned from recycled cans.
In 2010, the same architecture firm completed the largest building in the world made entirely of plastic water bottles. This EcoArk utilized 1.5 million bottles in its construction and weighed 50 percent less than a typical building, yet it was fire and weatherproof.
So if you find yourself in Shanghai, make sure to pick up a pair of sustainably sold kicks—and don’t mind the garbage.