A running singlet made out of soft drink bottles? Unbelievable as it may seem, Nike has created a tank top designed for long distance runners made of 75% recycled soft drink bottles. The singlet, designed specifically to assist runners in warm weather, is also environmentally friendly. Launched in Australia earlier this year at the Host City Marathon, this innovative product will be available to athletes participating in the Olympic Games in September.

The Stand-Off Distance Singlet combines efficacy with sustainability: it is designed to keep a distance runner cooler in warm/hot weather whilst remaining as environmentally friendly as possible. By using nodes in the fabric most of the singlet surface is kept away from the skin and holes in the fabric allow air to circulate as the runner moves.

‘Many products achieve their environmental friendliness at some cost to their performance,’ noted Rick MacDonald, Nike designer. ‘We’ve been able to make a product that is not only environmentally friendly but it actually performs better.

‘We started by looking at knit fabrics and just couldn’t find something that would work,’ noted MacDonald. ‘Then we learnt about a company, Polymer Group, Inc., and its revolutionary MiratecÒ fabrics. The more we learnt about their processes, the more we realised that it could digitally reproduce structures not otherwise possible using conventional knitting or weaving and it could also use recycled materials to achieve what we wanted.’

In fact, it takes about one and a half of the standard two-litre soft drink bottles to make each singlet. The Miratec process also uses about 43% less energy than conventional methods.

Since white reflects the sun, which also helps keep runners cooler, the product only comes in white. That also means the product doesn’t use any dyes, which can be harmful to the environment. Further, the garment is put together using ultrasonic welding, eliminating the need for thread and reducing the energy needed to create the product.

Australian marathoner Lee Troop, who tested out the singlet in this year’s Host City Marathon in April agrees that the Stand-Off Distance Singlet is in a class of its own.

‘It’s a great innovation,’ said Troop. ‘It has a snug vest-like feel to it which means it doesn’t bounce around on the body. What’s even more impressive is how the singlet’s made – it’s environmentally friendly and enhances my performance.’

Although the singlet is not currently available to consumers, Nike product developers are looking into a commercial version of the singlet for the future.

For further information contact Sophie Blue (02 9818 0949, 0416 006 821), Ty Jernstedt (02 9818 0957), Donna Tout (02 9818 0913) or Claire Sharpe (02 9818 0948, 0412 064 384) at Professional Public Relations.

Source: Australian Olympic Committee