Is Nike Ethical and Sustainable?

Nike holds the top spot as a shoe brand, but have its sustainability practices kept pace?

Last Updated on June 1, 2023

Nike’s global recognition is unparalleled, everyone knows the brand. But as consumers are becoming more eco-conscious, we need to know how ethical and sustainable are its practices. 

Beyond footwear, Nike also has performance activewear that pushes boundaries. The brand’s strategic collaborations with celebrities and athletes also elevate its influence, while its extensive sports sponsorships further solidify its presence on a global scale.

I think it’s safe to say that even if you’ve actively chosen not to purchase from the brand, there’s a high probability that you have at least one best selling trainer from Nike tucked away in your shoe collection, maybe even part of your everyday wardrobe.

Photo of Nike Shoes from their Summer Essentials Lifestyle Shoes Collection

Today, it is widely recognized that the fashion industry has a significant negative impact on the environment.

Nike, like many other brands, utilizes materials such as cotton and polyester in the production of their products, both of which have the potential to contribute to environmental pollution.

So, let’s take a look at the practises behind the brand.

If you find this interesting, next look at our sustainability guides to brands like Zara, Burberry, H&M and Mango.

Wear Next may receive a small commission if you click a link from one of our articles onto a retail website and make a purchase.

Is Nike sustainable?

Nike has set ambitious sustainability goals for 2023, including a 30% reduction in carbon emissions, 100% use of recycled polyester, and diverting 99% of manufacturing waste from landfills.

The company is also striving for 100% sustainable cotton and reduced water use in its supply chain. Nike is making progress in these areas, sourcing 48% of its electricity from renewables and reducing water use by 25%. They are also recycling materials and working with suppliers to improve sustainability. 

Nike’s efforts are commendable, but further action is needed to become a leader in sustainable fashion.

Is Nike ethical?

Nike has faced criticism in the past regarding labour conditions in its supply chain. Reports of poor working conditions, low wages, and labor rights violations have been raised, particularly in the early 1990s. 

These issues prompted Nike to implement significant changes and improve labor practices. The company has since implemented a Code of Conduct for its suppliers and established the Sustainable Manufacturing and Sourcing program to ensure responsible manufacturing practices.

Nike has also engaged in initiatives to address social issues, such as promoting diversity and inclusion. The company has collaborated with athletes and activists on campaigns focusing on social justice issues.

Nike’s Animal Welfare Policy

Nike implemented a policy that emphasizes responsible and ethical treatment of animals within its supply chain. This policy covers various animal-based materials used in Nike products, including fur, leather, down, wool, feathers, and animal-based glues. 

Nike requires its suppliers to provide animals with a healthy and humane environment, access to essential needs, prevent cruelty and neglect and use only humane methods of slaughter (although can any slaughter be humane?).

The company conducts regular audits to enforce compliance with these standards and takes appropriate action against suppliers who violate the policy.

READ MORE: The Most Exciting Fashion Collaborations of 2023

Wear Next Opinion

Wear Next believes it’s important to highlight the negative and unjust practises taking place in the fashion industry. We believe ethics and sustainability are important talking points to bring about change and we encourage you to contact fashion brands to demand this.

However, we understand that sustainable fashion isn’t accessible to everybody due to various factors, such as budget and the ability to find confidence-boosting clothes that fit. We will continue to offer you fashion inspiration and guidance to suit everybody and their budget, while also highlighting the unjust systems at play in the fashion industry.

We encourage our readers to shop mindfully and purposefully, ditching impulse purchases as a way to start shopping sustainably. If you want to learn more about fast fashion, we recommend books from this reading list.