“To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world” – Nike’s mission statement, which senior Mikayla Murphy (women’s swimming) made no hesitation in sharing during a unique luncheon with Nike staff members.
Murphy was one of nearly twenty student-athletes who joined three Nike representatives in early February to learn about the company’s sustainable innovation efforts. Alex Lebow (Collegiate Engagement), Jaycee Pribulsky (Senior Director - Labor Partnerships, Sustainable Manufacturing and Sourcing), and Jeremy Lardeau (Sustainability Analytics, Sustainable Business, and Innovation) came to campus and scheduled almost two full days engaging with faculty, staff, student-athletes, and stakeholders at Ohio State.
Buckeyes kicked off the lunch by sharing their personal definitions of sustainability and what being sustainable means to them. From there, Nike representatives provided background on the university’s partnership, and dove right into explaining how Nike incorporates sustainability in all aspects of its business.
“I thought the sustainability presentation from Nike was very eye-opening,” said Blake Leeson (men’s volleyball). Leeson and other Buckeyes wear Nike gear on a daily basis – from shoes and cleats, to jerseys, t-shirts, and sweatsuits - and it was fascinating for student-athletes to learn more about the behind-the-scenes aspects of their gear.
“As a consumer you don’t always know where the products are coming from or even going to for that matter. From the beginning to the end of a product’s life we got to see what Nike is currently doing and we were able to see what their goals and aspirations are for the future.”
Gabe Gemberling (cheer) had a fun opportunity to rank four Nike creations – past and present – in terms of sustainability. After guessing how the Air Force One compared to versions of the Air Max, Lebow and Lardeau explained the materials within each shoe, showed deconstructed parts in vacuum bags, and detailed how Nike is looking to enhance its legendary designs in respect to their sustainability levels.
In all, student-athletes learned how Nike incorporates sustainability into renewable energy used to make products, the materials themselves – such as flyknit and recycled polyester, and ways Nike monitors its performance through policies, manufacturing, and factories worldwide.
“Nike has high sustainability goals,” said Murphy. “Their innovation is the best in their field and they truly care about their footprint as well as their athletes.”