A new iPhone app allows designers to check the sustainability of the materials they are considering using in new products, reports Wired.

Some time ago, a team of employees at Nike was given a special project: Cataloging the 75,000-some items found in the company’s vast materials library and giving them each a score based on their environmental impact and long-term sustainability. No one had really done anything like it before, and it ultimately took the team six years to complete. Now, you can flick through their findings on your iPhone … 

Nike wanted to encourage other manufacturers to make use of the data, so put the the Materials Sustainability Index (MSI) on the web. However, the company thought the MSI was more likely to be used at the production stage, by which time many of the material decisions would already have been made. Nike figured designers were more likely to factor in the MSI data if it were available as an app.

“What you want to do is put tools in the hands of designers that are bespoke to their means at the moment of truth, which is the moment of design,” said Hannah Jones, Nike’s VP of Sustainable Business and Innovation. “The app is really tailored to help them make real-time predictive choices around the materials they use.”

We think Nike is right. While we might sometimes wonder why someone bothers to create an app that simply scrapes data from a perfectly good website and packages it in an app, I can see designers playing with a friendly and colorful app in downtime and learning more about potential product materials when they might not bother to visit the site.

The app is a free download from iTunes.