Nike Takes a Big Step Forward for Sustainability: Selling Used Shoes

You can now shop used Nike shoes in-store as part of its bid to reduce production and create less waste.

On the heels of several recent sustainable collection launches, Nike is now stepping in a slightly different direction with its environmental commitments. But it’s a notable one in the fight against climate change: Nike is now selling used shoes. The athletic wear giant says it has begun reselling used shoes in select stores in an effort to reduce waste.

Currently, eight Nike stores are taking back used shoes that can be refurbished and resold at discounted prices. It makes the brand’s footwear—some of which, like its iconic Air Jordans that can sell for thousands of dollars—more affordable. That’s a win in the current economic crisis. But the bigger takeaway is the Oregon-based company’s effort in normalizing shopping secondhand—a trend taking flight with platforms like Depop, The RealReal, and the Vestiaire Collective.

In a recent collaboration with The RealReal, sustainable designer Stella McCartney praised secondhand as the real epitome of luxury, by giving an item an extended life. “As a designer, I think it’s the biggest compliment for your designs to have an afterlife—to me, that is luxury,” McCartney said.

Nike Takes a Big Step Forward for Sustainability: Selling Used Shoes
Nike’s sustainable Crater Impact | courtesy

Last fall, Nike launched its first sustainable maternity-wear collection. Earlier this month it launched its first eco swimwear collection. Last week, the brand launched its newest footwear collection, Move to Zero, a sustainable-focused range working with circular design principles, upcycled, and renewable materials.

The brand has set a 2025 deadline to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent. But it also wants to up its waste refurbishing to ten times its current output in that same time period.

The new program will have some restrictions; shoes must be returned within 60 days of initial purchase and must meet certain quality standards for the buy-back. But others that don’t meet quality standards will be either donated or recycled for materials.

Current styles in the program include VaporMax, Air Max, and React. Nike says it plans to add children’s shoes this summer and expand the program in the coming weeks. By the end of April, the number of participating stores is expected to double, with more coming by year’s end.

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