Oft-villified sneaker behemoth Nike has introduced five new styles that tread a little lighter on the earth. Part of a new line called Nike Considered, the casual shoes and boots are part of the company’s effort to examine ways to reduce waste, eliminate toxic substances, and follow their image consultants’ advice to atone for that whole small-children-working-in-sweatshops-in-foreign-countries thing:

Among other changes, the Nike Considered shoes are largely made with materials found within 200 miles of the factory, to cut down on fuel consumption in transporting them. The leather comes from a tannery that recycles wastewater to ensure that no toxins are released into the environment, and it is pigmented using vegetable dyes. Hemp and polyester are used to make the shoe’s woven upper and shoelaces. The midsole is cut to lock into the outer sole, lessening the need for adhesives in constructing the shoe. The shoe’s outer sole includes recycled rubber.

If not for that ubiquitous swoop on the Nike Considered site, it might be confused for one run by Patagonia, what with its outdoorsy feel and forward-looking taglines:

consider effort, consider rewards, consider passion, consider feeling, consider consequences, consider waste, consider design …

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Wait, did they say “consider design”? Perhaps they should re-consider. Have you seen these shoes? Apparently Nike is using Prius-logic, hoping hip greens will want to show off their commitment to eco-friendly choices, but these shoes may take quite a bit of commitment: two of the models, the Considered Boot and the Considered Mule Shoe, include a macramé-ish woven design that may be a bit too Daniel Boone even for fashion savvy Prius drivers. I hate to be negative about what could be a step in the right direction, but I’m not the only one who thinks greens should start taking inventory of their wardrobe choices.

Barneys associate buyer Monique Soulet says, “The design of the shoe is definitely a conversation piece.” The question is, where is that conversation going? If these shoes don’t do well on the market, will that be encouragement for Nike and other apparel designers to continue to go green? Perhaps that’s something to consider …