Waist up shot of someone with vitiligo wearing a purple Puma activewear set.
09 Feb
Waist up shot of someone with vitiligo wearing a purple Puma activewear set.

How Ethical Is Puma?

Is Puma ethical? Sportswear giant Puma may be improving its sustainability targets in recent years, but it still has work to do across the board to achieve a higher rating.

NOTE: This brand’s rating is under review and subject to change. The article will be updated soon to reflect any changes in scoring.

Is Puma ethical and sustainable?

There are three major sportswear manufacturers: Nike, Adidas, and Puma. We’ve already touched on Nike and Adidas’ sustainability practices, so it was high time we took a closer look at Puma.

Puma was officially founded in Germany in 1948, but the story starts a little bit before that. In the 1920s, brothers Rudolf and Adolf Dassler founded “Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik” (Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory) in their hometown Herzogenaurach, Germany. The two brothers fell out and went their separate ways: Adolf created Adidas, and Rudolf launched Puma (mind-blowing, right?).

More than 60 years later, Puma has grown significantly. Like Adidas, the brand has relentlessly pushed sportswear forward by creating innovative gear recognised and endorsed by some of the world’s most accomplished athletes.

But how is Puma doing on the sustainability front? How is it impacting the planet, people, and animals? How ethical is Puma?

Let’s take a look.

Environmental impact

We rate Puma’s environmental impact “It’s a Start”. Puma uses some eco-friendly materials, including recycled materials. It has also set a science-based target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated from its operations and supply chain, and it is on track to meet its target. However, while Puma has also set a deadline to eliminate hazardous chemicals by 2025, the progress is unclear. Plus, there is no evidence it minimises textile waste when manufacturing its products.

Labour conditions

Puma’s labour rating is also “It’s a Start”. Its supply chain auditing is accredited with the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and applies to all of the final stages of production, which is a good start. That being said, we found no evidence Puma implements practices to encourage diversity and inclusion in most of its supply chain, nor that it ensures payment of a living wage, which is a big red flag for us. Puma did, however, disclose policies and safeguards to protect suppliers and workers in its supply chain from the impacts of COVID-19.

Animal welfare

Finally, when it comes to animal welfare, we rate Puma “Not Good Enough”. The brand has a formal animal welfare policy aligned with Five Freedoms and some implementation. And while Puma does not use exotic animal hair, fur, or angora, it still uses leather and exotic animal skin, as well as down certified by the Responsible Down Standard. It states it uses wool from non-mulesed sheep, but there is no evidence on how it is enforced.

Overall rating: It’s a start

We rate Puma “It’s a Start” based on our thorough research and methodology. The brand has taken some steps in the right direction by using more eco-friendly materials, and if that’s important to you, it might be worth having a closer look at the brand. However, the lack of diversity and inclusion policies, and more importantly, the lack of evidence the brand pays its workers a living wage, is worrying. A brand that wants to be sustainable needs to take a holistic approach to its operations, taking into account its impact on the planet, people, and animals, and not just focus on better materials.

See the rating.

Note that Good On You ratings consider 100s of issues, and it is not possible to list every relevant issue in a summary of the brand’s performance. For more information, see our How We Rate page and our FAQs.

If you’re into sportswear or need sports gear, but want to shop more in line with your values, here are a few of our favourite sustainable alternatives to Puma.

Good swaps

Sustainable alternatives to Puma

Veja

Rated: Good

Veja is a French brand designing ecological and fair trade footwear, and is also a sustainable fashion pioneer. The brand uses eco-friendly materials, like GOTS certified cotton and vegetable-tanned leather! Veja pays its co-operative cotton growers and rubber tappers between 30% and 100% above the world market price. By not advertising, Veja is able to invest more money into strengthening its ethical practices. You can find Veja shoes in women's EU sizes 35-46, and men's 35-47.

See the rating.

Shop Veja.

Shop Veja @ LVR Sustainable.

Shop Veja @ thegreenlabels.

Shop Veja @ Outerknown.

Shop Veja @ Threads 4 Thought.

Shop Veja @ Labell-D.

Shop Veja Kids second hand @ Retykle.

Flamingos’ Life

Rated: Good

Flamingos' Life creates sneakers for men and women 100% animal-free. The brand uses eco-friendly and PETA vegan approved materials, including upcycled materials. Find the range in sizes 36-46.

See the rating.

Shop Flamingos' Life.

dk active

Rated: Good

Offers

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dk active – Maternity

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Someone in the middle of a step up workout in front of plants wearing black and white striped activewear designed by dk active.

dk active – Extended Sizes

A diverse selection of plus size activewear designed to keep up with you, no matter what activity you’re doing. Buy one from curve collection, get one 30% off with code GOODIES. (Ends: 31 MAY)

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A low angle shot of four people against a white sky wearing various baby pink activewear by dk active.

dk active – Bottoms

Whether you need leggings for a sweaty Pilates session or pants for a chilled Sunday coffee, you can find your perfect fit here. Buy one bottom, get one 30% off with code GOODIES. (Ends: 31 MAY)

Checkout code: GOODIES
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Someone posing against a rock wall wearing white and grey snake print activewear by dk active.

dk active – Tops

Refresh your activewear wardrobe with dk active's range of ethical, Australian made gym tops. Buy one top, get one 30% off with code GOODIES. (Ends: 31 MAY)

Checkout code: GOODIES
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dk active is an Australian high-performance brand supporting everybody seeking an authentic edge in life. It uses renewable energy in its supply chain to reduce its climate impact, and reuses all of its offcuts to minimise textile waste. It is also a PETA approved 100% vegan brand! Find the products in sizes XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop dk active.

Etiko

Rated: Great
person wearing blue and white ethical sneakers by Etiko

Etiko is an Australian designer of organic, eco-friendly, and fair trade clothing and shoes. The brand constantly sets the bar for upholding and campaigning the human rights of people working in traditionally exploitative industry supply chains. Find the clothes in AU sizes 8-20, and the shoes in UK sizes 3-13.

See the rating.

Shop Etiko.

Womsh

Rated: Good

Fashion and sustainability 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 eco-friendly fabrics like organic cotton. Find most shoes in EU sizes 35-42, and clothes in XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop Womsh.

Shop Womsh @ Curate.

CARIUMA

Rated: Good
yellow sustainable skate shoes by Cariuma brand

CARIUMA is a 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.

MANDALA

Rated: Good
Someone doing a yoga pose wearing grey ethically made yoga wear by MANDALA.

MANDALA is a German yogawear brands which stands out for a conscious and positive lifestyle. The brand believes stylish yoga collection is just as important as fair working conditions and an environmentally friendly production.

See the rating.

Shop MANDALA.

Ognx

Rated: Good
Someone doing a yoga pose outdoors wearing sustainable activewear by Ognx.

Ognx is a German brand with the long-term goal of enriching your everyday life with high-quality products.

See the rating.

Shop Ognx.

Ambiletics

Rated: Good
Someone wearing dark blue animal print activewear by Ambiletics.

Ambiletics is a sustainable sports and yoga label from Munich. The brand is convinced that every (purchase) decision makes a difference. In the fashion sector in particular, far too little attention is paid to origin and production. Ambiletics wants to change this, so its motto is: MAKE IT MATTER.

See the rating.

Shop Ambiletics.

Adidas (Pre-Owned)

Rated: It's A Start

Adidas is one of the largest sportswear makers in the world. The company has set some good environmental and labour standards, including an absolute target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated from its own operations.

See the rating.

Shop Adidas Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

 

We love these sustainable brands listed above, but they may not meet your specific needs right now. Maybe they’re out of your price range or don’t stock your size. If you really need something and a product from Puma is the best option, then you shouldn’t feel guilty about buying it. “It’s a Start” means just that—the brand is making a start. And if your options are Puma or a fast fashion brand we avoid that is making little to no effort for people, the planet, and animals, Puma is a clear winner. Progress over perfection.

You can also reach out to brands who you think need a little nudge in the right direction. If enough customers demand change, brands that truly care about their impact will have no choice but to respond in kind. Check out the “Your Voice” function on the app or slide into their DMs on social media to let them know what you think.

Editor's note

Feature image via Puma, 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. Use our directory to search thousands of rated brands. To support our work, we may earn a commission on sales made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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