Written By: Ashoke Mohanraj
Dear Mr. James,
A few weeks ago, in my socio-ecological systems class or professor asked us what we envisioned for the future. I eagerly raised my hand and told him I wanted to make “environmentalism” cool. The example I gave was if you were to wear a pair of sustainable sneakers on the basketball court imagine how much Nike’s stock would go up and how many more kids would be demanding a pair of sustainably made sneakers. He asked me how I was going to do that, and I jokingly responded, “reach out to Lebron James and see what happens”.
To the outside world, environmentalists are kind of losers. We’re the weird, radical outcasts who spend our free time picking up garbage and protesting to save the turtles. The reality is that climate action is not nearly as exciting as a brand new pair of Lebron 15’s, and as a basketball fan myself I can completely understand why that’s the case. That’s why we need you. Leaders like yourself with an immense amount of cultural influence have the potential to create widespread change, as we’ve already seen you do in the form of social activism.
Environmentalists need help reaching the general public and to do that, we need to make environmentalism more accessible and culturally accepted and what better way to do that than with sneakers. I want to exemplify that sustainability doesn’t have to compromise style or self-expression but can instead coexist to create the socio-ecological change we need to combat the issues revolving around fast fashion.
Fast fashion is second only to oil as the worlds largest polluter and has equally high social costs. The fast fashion industry emits 1.2 billion tons of CO2 per year which is about 5% of global emissions. That’s more than the emissions crated by air travel and international shipping. Companies have already started to combat this issue by developing shoes made out or recycled ocean plastics, but none of these shoes have yet to go mainstream. I believe that you have the potential to create the first.
I know you’re a busy guy, but I was just wondering if this is something you would be willing to pitch to Nike in order to develop a sustainable sneaker that could be released on Earth day. I don’t expect this sneaker to save the world or anything, but I know that it can be a platform for change to promote environmental activism through smart yet appealing fashion choices.
You’re a 3x NBA champion and a timeless social justice champion. Why not have it all and be a sustainability champion?
You need a shoe fit for a king. Let’s make you one. How does “King of the Jungle” sound?
Raps in 6.