07 Feb

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 gets an ‘it’s a start’ rating for our animal friends. It does not use fur, leather, angora, or exotic animal skin. It uses down feathers accredited by the Responsible Down Standard, which is a plus, but it also uses 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 a solid Code of Conduct, 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 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

Made from organically grown bamboo, Boody is a clothing brand that supports the trend for all things green & ethical.

See the rating.

Shop Boody.

Girlfriend Collective

Rated: Good

Girlfriend Collective creates minimal, luxury women’s activewear made with certified fair labour, certified by the Social Accountability Standard International SA8000. The brand uses recycled polyester as well as low-impact non-toxic dyes and is fully Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified.

See the rating.

Shop Girlfriend Collective.

 

Organic Basics

Rated: Great

Organic Basics offers high quality sustainable fashion basics for men and women in organic materials. 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.

See the rating.

Shop Organic Basics.

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 2,000 brands. To support our work, we may earn a commission on sales made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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