Is Lululemon as dedicated to active sustainability as it says? How ethical is Lululemon, really? Sadly calling Lululemon ethical is a bit of a stretch, and we rate the brand “Not Good Enough”. 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?
Lululemon claims sustainability as one of its core principles, but its environmental impact is “Not Good Enough”.
Lululemon only uses some eco-friendly materials, including recycled materials. While it has set a science-based target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated from its owned operations and supply chain by 60% by 2030, it is unclear whether it is on track to meet its target. There is no evidence it has taken meaningful action to reduce or eliminate hazardous chemicals, nor that it has 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, it doesn’t reflect any meaningful action. For a global brand such as Lululemon, there is no excuse not to do its part for the environment.
Regarding workers, Lululemon falls short again, with a “Not Good Enough” rating. It discloses some policies to protect suppliers and workers in its supply chain from the impacts of COVID-19, but the good news ends there.
Lululemon’s supply chain is not certified by labour standards that ensure worker health and safety, living wages or other labour rights. There is no evidence the brand implements practices to support diversity and inclusion in its supply chain, 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.
Lululemon’s score for animals is “It’s a Start”. While it does not use fur, angora, leather, or exotic animal skin, there is no evidence it has a policy in place to minimise the suffering of animals. 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 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.
Luckily there are numerous ethical activewear brands that have our full support, which you can see below.
“Good” and “Great” alternatives to Lululemon