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28 Sep

12 More Ethical and Sustainable Alternatives to Nike You’ll Love

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Nike still has a way to go on the ethics and sustainability front with a score of “It’s a Start” overall, based on our analysts’ May 2023 review. Here’s why the conscious consumer is better off looking elsewhere for their activewear needs, and some examples of more ethical alternatives to Nike.

Nike’s not quite there

Even if you weren’t around in the 1990s, you’ve likely heard about Nike’s sweatshop scandals. Since then, the brand has worked hard to transform its tarnished image. So, what’s the impact of Lebron James and Cristiano Ronaldo’s sponsor on the planet, people, and animals today? And most importantly, what more ethical and sustainable alternatives to Nike are there?

Nike has improved, but there is still a way to go. The activewear giant has made a few positive changes to its environmental practices: it is a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, it uses some lower-impact materials—including organic and recycled cotton and polyester—and has set a target to eliminate most hazardous chemicals by 2025, which it’s on track to meet. But while Nike ​​has set a science-based target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated from its operations and supply chain, there is no evidence it is on track to meet that target. We also found no evidence Nike has a policy to prevent deforestation nor protect biodiversity in its supply chain.

When it comes to labour, the brand has been criticised for allowing its suppliers to exploit workers by paying below the minimum wage, enforcing excessive working hours, and failing to provide safe working conditions. We found Nike disclosed some policies to protect workers in its supply chain from the virus during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the brand has a basic policy to support diversity and inclusion in its supply chain. However, while it claims to have a program to improve wages, we found no evidence Nike ensures payment of a living wage in most of its supply chain.

Despite not using fur or angora in its products, which is a step in the right direction, Nike still uses wool, down, exotic animal skin, shearling, exotic animal hair, and silk without specifying sources. It uses some recycled leather in its leather products, and thought it has a basic policy covering animal welfare, no clear implementation mechanisms are in place and there’s no evidence it traces any animal-derived materials even to the first production stage. This lack of transparency is problematic as the welfare of animals and workers is unknown.

If you thought the 1990s sweatshop story was the last scandal involving Nike, think again. In 2018, Nike was sued by two former female employees who accused the sneaker giant of creating a culture of gender discrimination and sexual harassment. The brand says it’s been focusing on female empowerment and inclusiveness in its advertising campaigns, but the women who work for Nike—from factories to headquarters—are left out of the picture.

In 2021, Nike came under fire (again) after a prolific sneaker reseller was revealed to be the son of a long time company executive. Nepotism, much?

Nike was also recently named in a new lawsuit, accusing the brand of deceiving consumers by falsely marketing its sportswear offerings as “sustainable”, and made with “sustainable materials”. Ouch.

Three images side by side of alternatives to Nike, including sneakers by COG and Flamingos' Life and an activewear outfit by CasaGIN.

Overall, we rate Nike “It’s a Start” (based on our review in May 2023). The brand, whose annual revenue numbers in the tens of billions every year, has a few promising environmental measures in place. Still, it needs to do much more and make serious changes in most areas. Nike can certainly afford it.

So, if you love the Nike vibe but prefer to support “Good” or “Great” brands that are beating the sportswear giant at its own game, here are some more sustainable alternatives to Nike for you.

More ethical and sustainable alternatives to Nike

COG

Rated: Good
Close view of someone in shoes by COG.

Based in France, COG is a footwear label that creates more sustainable, vegan shoes from 100% recycled materials, including natural corks, used cotton scraps, end-of-life rubber, and plastic bottles fished out of the sea.

Offered in sizes EU 35-46.

See the rating.

Shop COG.

Shop COG @ Immaculate Vegan.

CARIUMA

Rated: Good
three pairs of eco sneakers by CARIUMA

CARIUMA is a more sustainable Brazilian sneaker brand that wants you to feel super comfortable while providing effortless style in organic canvas, leather, and suede styles.

Find CARIUMA's shoes in US sizes 5-13.

See the rating.

Shop CARIUMA.

ID.EIGHT

Rated: Good

ID.EIGHT is an Italian brand that was born from the meeting between Dong Seon Lee and Giuliana Borzillo, both come from the world of footwear, where they worked and met. Together they have created a more ethical and sustainable collection of sneakers with a refined design. The shoes are made in Italy with lower-impact materials from food industry waste such as apple peels, grape stalks and seeds, and pineapple leaves, as well as recycled cotton and polyester.

Find the shoes in EU sizes 36-46.

See the rating.

Shop ID.EIGHT.

Womsh

Rated: Good
sustainable sneakers made by Womsh

Fashion and responsible production can go together and Womsh is the brand that proves it. Its shoes are entirely designed and manufactured in Italy, and its clothing range is made from lower-impact fabrics like organic cotton.

Find most shoes in EU sizes 35-42, and clothes in XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop Womsh.

Flamingos’ Life

Rated: Good
three pairs of vegan classic sneakers by Flamingos' Life

Flamingos' Life creates sneakers that are free from animal-derived materials for everyone. The brand uses lower-impact and PETA approved vegan materials, including upcycled materials.

Find the range in sizes 36-46.

See the rating.

Shop Flamingos' Life.

Tripulse

Rated: Great
People laughing in sports bras by Tripulse.

Tripulse is a Swedish activewear brand on a mission to create high-performing activewear that protects our planet and its people. The brand believes that fitness, both physical and mental, is the foundation for a good and healthy life and gives people the courage to live the life they dreamed of, to become their best selves, to make bold moves, and to change the world for the better.

Find most items in sizes XS-3XL.

See the rating.

Shop Tripulse.

NIKIN

Rated: Good
Someone gazing out across mountains wearing a beanie, shirt, and shorts by more sustainable brand, Nikin.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to wear their morals, look no further than Swiss brand NIKIN. Not only is a tree planted every time you purchase a NIKIN product, you also get to show your tree pride.

Products are available in sizes XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop NIKIN.

CasaGIN

Rated: Good
woman wearing sustainable teal singlet by ethical brand CasaGIN

Italian brand CasaGIN designs apparel for those looking to foster a more sustainable and conscious lifestyle in their closet and beyond.

Find most items in sizes XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop CasaGIN.

Iron Roots

Rated: Great
Someone in top and shorts by Iron Roots.

Iron Roots is a Dutch sportswear brand that makes all its apparel from plant-based fabrics. Its pieces effortlessly combine more responsible design and functionality.

Find most items in sizes XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop Iron Roots.

Amble Outdoors (Team Timbuktu)

Rated: Good
Someone in clothes by Amble Outdoors.

Amble Outdoors (formerly Team Timbuktu) creates high-performance waterproof raincoats and sweat-wicking activewear, made from recycled plastic bottles in Australia.

Sizes offered in 2XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Amble Outdoors.

1 People

Rated: Good
stylish patterned eco activewear by Nube

1 People is a Danish-designed lifestyle and luxury brand. It blends Scandinavian colour palettes and minimalist design to create effortlessly elegant collections for the conscious-minded. Its pieces are thoughtfully crafted by small family-run manufacturers using lower-impact and certified materials.

Find the collection in sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop 1 People.

Shop 1 People @ Cerqular.

Nike (Pre-Owned)

Rated: It's A Start

Nike is an American sportswear and activewear manufacturer. The brand has good policies to audit suppliers in its supply chain, but it is not taking adequate steps to ensure payment of a living wage for its workers. By buying Nike second hand you're helping keep clothes out of landfills and helping protect workers by slowing down the fast fashion cycle and the relentless demands on low-paid workers in the supply chain.

See the rating.

Shop Nike Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Editor's note

Feature image via Unsplash, all other images via brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world’s most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet and animals. We love to recommend some of the best more sustainable brands, rated "Good" or "Great". We also encourage shopping pre-owned as another great way to reduce the impact of our fashion choices. Use our directory to search thousands of rated brands.

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