woman wearing green lululemon leggins
30 Jun
woman wearing green lululemon leggins

How Ethical Is Lululemon?

Is Lululemon as dedicated to active sustainability as it says? How ethical is Lululemon? This article is based on the Lululemon rating published in January 2022.

Is Lululemon ethical or sustainable? That’s a bit of a stretch

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, the 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 as we answer the question: how ethical is Lululemon?

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, including recycled materials. While it has set an absolute target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated from its owned operations and supply chain by 60% by 2030, there is no evidence it is on track to meet its 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 Vendor Code of Ethics 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. It received a score of 41-50% in the Fashion Transparency Index, and to top it all off, it sources its final stage of production from countries with extreme risk of labour abuse. It has also been linked with sourcing cotton from the Xinjiang region in China at risk of using Uyghur forced labour and has taken insufficient steps to remediate.

Animal welfare

Lululemon’s score for animals has recently risen to “It’s a Start”. While it does not use fur, angora, leather, 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 wool and exotic animal hair. It traces some animal products to the first stage of production.

Overall rating: Not Good Enough

So, how ethical is Lululemon? 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 front, we’d like to see less talk and more action.

Note that Good On You ratings consider hundreds 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.

See the rating.

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

Good swaps

“Good” and “Great” alternatives to Lululemon

Boody

Rated: Good

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-3XL.

See the rating.

Shop Boody.

tentree

Rated: Good
women wearing black sports bras by tentree

Canadian brand tentree believes big change starts small. Small as in bringing your reusable bag to the grocery store, making fewer, more thoughtful purchases, and choosing to purchase sustainably when you do. The brand plants ten trees for every item purchased to help regenerate ecosystems and provide planting jobs in communities around the world, and has already planted over 65 million trees.

All tentree’s products are created with an Earth-First approach, meaning they're made in fair, safe working conditions, and constructed using only sustainably sourced and recycled materials. tentree’s super comfy fabrics and easy wardrobe staples 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.

Tripulse

Rated: Great

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 to 3XL.

See the rating.

Shop Tripulse.

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

Offers

A pregnant person reclining on the sand wearing a black maternity activewear set by dk active.

dk active – Maternity

Maternity activewear for those that struggle to find suitable exercise clothing to accommodate their growing bump. Buy one maternity item, get one 30% off with code GOODIES. (Ends: 31 MAY)

Checkout code: GOODIES
Shop now
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)

Checkout code: GOODIES
Shop now
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
Shop now
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
Shop now

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: Great

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.

Shop Nube @ Curate.

Sage Larock

Rated: Good
woman wearing ethical leggings by sage larock

Made in-house by a small team in LA, sustainable luxury brand Sage Larock produces timeless swimwear and activewear that is sure to turn heads. Its stunning pieces are made from an Italian recycled plastic fabric that is high-quality and long-lasting—and a percentage of profits from each sale goes to support marine conservation non-profits! Sage Larock stocks sizes XS-L.

See the rating.

Shop Sage Larock.

CasaGIN

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

CasaGIN is a positive place, designed for those looking for a sustainable and conscious lifestyle where you can find products capable of conveying well-being and harmony. Find most items in sizes S to XL.

See the rating.

Shop CasaGIN.

Discover 6 sustainable alternatives to Lululemon leggings

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 3,000 brands. To support our work, we may earn a commission on sales made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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