Nike’s Sustainability and Ethics Track Record: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

Our third installment in the series- it’s time to review the big boy: Nike. Here’s the 5-minute rundown:

Worker Treatment

🚫 No Bangladesh Accord: Nike hasn’t signed this vital safety initiative after the Rana Plaza tragedy that killed thousands of workers.

🚫 Blocked independent monitoring: They cut access for the Workers Rights Consortium in 2017, raising concerns about transparency.

🚫 Living wage issues: Despite progress, garment workers still struggle to afford basic needs in some regions. Nike has even been exposed for using labor from Chinese concentration camps.

🚫 Over 300,000 workers at major supplier factories in Vietnam, China and Indonesia- all countries notorious for dangerous working conditions with no worker protection and low pay.

✅ Increased transparency: Recent Fashion Transparency Index scores show some improvement, though still not perfect.

✅ Has established strict codes of conduct and allows inspections of factories.


🚫 “Greenwashing” lawsuit: Nike faces accusations of exaggerating eco-friendly claims in certain products. I covered this more here, and it’s pretty damning.

🚫 Off-track on emissions: Despite goals, current progress suggests they might miss their carbon neutrality target by 2030.

✅ Sustainable materials rising: Increased use of recycled polyester and organic cotton, though still needs improvement.

✅ Self-reports that 71% of all Nike footwear incorporates some recycled materials.

👀 Nike aims for carbon neutrality by 2050 and zero waste with 10-year plan to divert 100% of footwear manufacturing scrap from landfills.

Animal Product Usage

🚫 Extensive leather use: While exploring alternatives like Flyleather, animal-derived materials still dominate.

🚫 Down and wool sourcing concerns: Lack of clear traceability raises ethical and animal welfare questions.

✅ Partnering with animal rights groups: Collaborations with PETA and WWF show commitment to animal welfare improvements.

✅ Investing in vegan alternatives: Nike is actively developing plant-based and recycled materials like Regrind rubber.

✅ Fur-free: Nike went fur-free in 2007, setting a positive example for the industry.

Altruism Score:

5/10: Disappointing
Nike scores a "dissapointing" altruism score on our rating scale.

Nike shows initiative, especially around tracking and reporting around ESG (to be fair, they kinda have to since they’re a public company)- but it’s still terribly far from being ethical.

Its recurring and continuing controversies shows that unfortunately, even things are trending in the right direction, it might be a while before I’d ever recommend purchasing from Nike.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *