Just yesterday, Nike unveiled its latest proprietary footwear cushioning innovation: Joyride, and already Gizmodo has hit back with an opinion piece on its Earther column, criticizing the sports brand for contributing to plastic pollution.
In case you missed it, here’s a little recap of Joyride. The system consists of various pods lining the underfoot, each holding thousands of TPE beads which Nike claims can expand in all directions — dubbed multi-dimensional displacement by the Beaverton. The system is aimed to provide more comfort to athletes and mitigate the harshness of running on certain tough surfaces, making the whole experience more enjoyable and energy-conserving.
While the new tech seems quite ground-breaking, Gizmodo contributing editor Andrew Liszewski was not at all impressed, saying that "the new design comes at a time when beads and plastic pollution are an ever-growing concern." He continues to explain that the small foam beads can cause quite a big problem for the environment, giving examples of micro-beads used in various face washes and toothpastes or body scrubs, and once they enter water sources, they’re practically impossible to clean out.
Liszewski shares the same worry about the TPE beads Nike is now using. While the author of the article understands that the beads are contained in the shoe, which won’t be washed into the water streams, "shoes eventually wear out, and when disposed of there’s always the chance that the wear and tear of garbage disposal will result in these beads spilling out and finding their way into streams, rivers, and lakes because they’re so small and light." He also points out that Nike has made no mention that the TPE beads were made using recycled or biodegradable material, which in itself also contributes to a global problem we’re experiencing now.
Gizmodo reached out for a comment from Nike, which responded with the following statement:
“Nike is committed to creating a more sustainable future and protecting the future of sport. Like all athletic footwear, Joyride can be recycled through Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program and transformed into new products. We have also been actively exploring the source of microfibers and working with the sporting goods industry and other industries to understand the issue and identify long-term scalable solutions.”