Nike’s Sustainability Lawsuit: Are Their Promises All Lies?

A turtle swimming around held back by plastic.

Did you know Nike actually publishes its yearly progress toward its 2025 sustainability goals? Nike made a big deal announcing they wanted to be net zero (zero carbon emissions) by 2050- and I wanted to see whether they were actually doing good to their word.

And then- whadda ya know. I happened to stumble across a 47-page lawsuit that claims Nike’s sustainability promises are all bullshit.

Let’s take a look.

The Greenwashing Lawsuit

  • A 47-page lawsuit was filed claiming that Nike uses false advertising around their recycled materials.
  • “In fact, of the 2,452 Nike ‘Sustainability’ Collection Products … only 239 Products are actually made with any recycled materials,” the complaint notes
  • Over 90% of the items in Nike’s “Sustainability” collection are not “made with recycled fibers” as advertised.
  • They actually mostly were made of “virgin” synthetic materials that are known to be harmful to the environment. And the products that did contain recycled material were mostly made with recycled polyester and recycled nylon.
  • Newsflash: these are actually plastic! Definitely not renewable. They sit in landfills for hundreds of years and do not reduce our carbon footprint.
  • These plastic-based materials like polyester are not biodegradable or recyclable. They require loads of energy for extraction and processing and are derived from nonrenewable resources.
  • This recycled polyester is made from plastic bottles that are shredded and then spun into yarn. BUT- it’s very, very hard to recycle clothes made from this material; they usually end up in landfills. Instead, if the bottles were recycled into other bottles, they could be recycled many more times.
  • These materials actually shed microplastics. Which can make their way into the ocean and seriously harm marine life.
  • Each cycle of the washing machine can release more than 700,000 plastic fibers into the environment.
  • Microfibers make up 85% of human-made debris on shorelines around the world.

Big. Freaking. Yikes.

But really who’s surprised? There’s lots of money to be made by taking advantage of consumers who want to do the right thing.

Forget Nike. Don’t give your money to companies who are willing to lie to you for a quick buck.

P.S – Something you might want to know: Nike has also been exposed for using sweatshop labor

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