At the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, elite athletes will sleep on beds made of cardboard. Olympic medals are being constructed out of recycled electronics, such as cell phones. And Nike will be dressing its athletes in uniforms and sneakers made out of recycled polyester and ground-up shoe parts.
It’s part of a broader sustainability push by the shoe retailer as it seeks to reach younger and more eco-conscious consumers.
“Athletes expect us to be committed in this space,” Noel Kinder, Nike’s chief sustainability officer, told CNBC. “They want [what they wear] to perform, and they expect it to be sustainable.”
Nike isn’t alone in its industry with these efforts. Brands ranging from Patagonia to Adidas to Puma to Gap’s Athleta have for years been incorporating sustainability into how they run their businesses.
Retailers have good reason to set such targets: Consumers in Gen Z, born in the years 1995 to 2012, are thinking about the environment as they shop. Sixty-two percent of Gen Z consumers prefer to buy from sustainable brands, according to a survey of more than 1,000 people in December by First Insight. And 73% of Gen Z respondents are willing to pay more for sustainable products, the survey said.