How Ethical Is Lululemon? - Good On You
woman wearing green lululemon leggins
07 Feb
woman wearing green lululemon leggins

How Ethical Is Lululemon?

Lululemon is a high-end activewear chain that offers yoga-inspired athletic apparel for most sweaty pursuits. While the brand claims to be dedicated to sustainable practice, does Lululemon really put its best foot forward for people, planet and animals? Or is it a s-t-r-e-t-c-h to call it ethical? Read on to find out what its impact is really like.

Environmental Impact

While Lululemon is a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and claims sustainability as one of its core principles, its environmental impact is simply ‘not good enough’.

Lululemon only uses a low proportion of eco-friendly materials. While it has set an absolute target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated from its owned operations by 100% by 2021, it is unclear whether it has set a supply chain target. There is no evidence it has taken meaningful action to reduce or eliminate hazardous chemicals, nor does it have adequate policies or initiatives on water reduction.

On the sustainability section of its website, Lululemon talks about ways to improve environmental impact. Although this is positive, in reality, it doesn’t reflect any meaningful action. For a global brand such as Lululemon, there really is no excuse not to do its part for the environment.

Labour Conditions

When it comes to workers, Lululemon falls short again, with a ‘not good enough’ rating. It has a Code of Conduct that covers all of the ILO Four Fundamental Freedoms principles and traces some of its supply chain, but the good news ends there.

There is no evidence the brand has any worker empowerment initiatives such as collective bargaining or rights to make a complaint, and it has made little to no progress toward payment of a living wage. To top it all off, it sources its final stage of production from countries with extreme risk of labour abuse!

Animal Welfare

Lululemon once again gets a ‘not good enough’ rating for our animal friends. While it does not use fur, angora, or exotic animal skin, there is no evidence it has an animal welfare policy. It uses down feathers accredited by the Responsible Down Standard, which is a plus, but it also uses leather, wool, and exotic animal hair without stating sources, so we can’t be sure how the animals are treated.

Overall Rating: Not Good Enough

Based on information from our own research, we’ve given Lululemon an overall rating of ‘not good enough’. When it comes to labour, we’re glad to see some level of transparency in the supply chain, but it still falls short. If the brand’s employees aren’t being paid a living wage, it’s simply not good enough to be considered truly ethical conduct. On the environment and animal front, we’d like to see less talk and more action!

Luckily there are numerous ethical activewear brands that have our full support which you can see below!

Good Swaps

Ethical alternatives to Lululemon

Boody

Rated: Good
group of people wearing boody basics and underwear

Made from organically grown bamboo, Boody is an Australian clothing brand that supports the trend for all things green and ethical. Find the range in sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Boody.

tentree

Rated: Good
women wearing black sports bras by tentree

tentree is a Canadian sustainable lifestyle brand that plants 10 trees for every item purchased. The certified B-Corp brand has already helped to remove tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere and reforested over 5,000 hectares of land (that’s equal to 12,000 football fields). But its commitment to sustainability extends way beyond trees. Using recycled, organic, and circular fabrics, tentree cuts down on huge amounts of waste and water usage with every piece. We love it for its super comfy fabrics and easy wardrobe staples that are typically available from XS to XL.

See the rating.

Shop tentree.

Girlfriend Collective

Rated: Great
Two women wearing sports leggings and crop tops in burgundy and green

Girlfriend Collective creates minimal, luxury clothes made with certified fair labour, certified by the Social Accountability Standard International SA8000. The brand uses eco-friendly materials like recycled polyester as well as low-impact non-toxic dyes and is fully Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified. Inclusively sized Girlfriend Collective offers products from 2XS-6XL.

See the rating.

Shop Girlfriend Collective @ LVR Sustainable.

Shop Girlfriend Collective @ thegreenlabels.

Shop Girlfriend Collective.

Organic Basics

Rated: Great
people wearing organic basics basics

Organic Basics offers high-quality sustainable fashion basics for men and women in organic materials. It also recently launched its first sustainable denim collection! The Denmark-based brand puts sustainable thinking at the centre of everything—it only chooses fabrics that care for our environment, and only ever partners with factories that care about their impact. Organic Basics clothes are available in sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Organic Basics @ Rêve en Vert.

Shop Organic Basics @ thegreenlabels.

Shop Organic Basics.

dk active

Rated: Good

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.

Nube

Rated: Good

Nube turns recycled plastic into responsible and fashionable activewear, designed and made in the US. The brand partners with artists and designers around the world to create prints motivated by the environmental crisis that inspire connection and action. This fully woman-owned business uses a closed-loop manufacturing process by recycling all off-cuts created during the manufacturing process. Find Nube products in sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Nube.

Discover more ethical activewear brands.

Editor's note

Feature image via Lululemon. Additional images via the 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 more than 2,500 brands. To support our work, we may earn a commission on sales made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

Ethical brand ratings. There’s an app for that.

Wear the change you want to see. Download our app to discover ethical brands and see how your favourites measure up.