On Ethics And Sustainability: Why Nike Should Just Do It.

by Simba 7 min read

With the fashion industry becoming more aware of their impact on the planet and its communities, the words ethical and sustainable are more than just jargon now. Although it can be quite difficult to know which clothing brands are actually virtuous, the leading sports brand Nike has jumped, skipped, and run in the right direction. The importance of staying fit and healthy inspired us to invest in the best sporting apparel. Still, the significance of caring for the environment and being a responsible member of society has led us to wonder: How Ethical & Sustainable is Nike?

What Makes Clothes Ethical?

Based in Beaverton, Oregon, NIKE Inc. aims to broaden our physical capabilities by creating innovative sports clothing and equipment. With a diverse global team that designs the most sustainable products, their goal is to stay focused on generating a positive impact on the communities where they live, work, and play. Since it has become more apparent that the fashion industry is fast damaging the planet, Nike has turned to such green measures, minimizing waste and preserving the environment.

Ethical clothing is the designing, sourcing, and manufacturing of garments for the welfare of the people and their communities, all while decreasing its environmental impact. While there are numerous ways to produce clothes that are ethical’, specifically resolving commercial, social, and environmental issues are required.

Here are a few key factors that make ethical brands ethical:

  • Provides fair wages and working conditions.
  • Supports workers’ rights and sustainable livelihoods.
  • Utilizes eco-friendly components and fabrics.
  • Limits harmful chemical and pesticide use.
  • Minimizes the use of water.
  • Addresses energy efficiency and waste reduction.
  • Promotes sustainability standards.
  • Protects animal rights.
  • Recycles.

An ethical fashion brand ensures that it affects the planet, its people, and animals positively. Nike has always treated their workers fairly, used resources properly and with the utmost care, and adopts zero to very few animal products, practically shaping the brand into a healthy and sturdy vegan.

What Makes A Sustainable Brand?

From the sourcing of fabrics to its actual production, there are a plethora of ways that the fashion industry impacts our society and the environment. Sustainability is as much about the process as it is the result, wherein both the manufacturers and their consumers should work in conjunction for it to be properly achieved. It refers to materials obtained by the brands from environmental friendly-resources to making certain that consumers go for products that make use of sustainably grown crops and recycled materials.

When it comes to fashion, being environmentally conscious traditionally meant that you buy clothes from thrift shops or donate your slightly used clothes to stores that offer second-hand clothing to reuse or resell. Today, people give more attention to a clothing brand’s sustainability practice, and this drives brands towards:

  • Using recyclable fabrics that are sourced from ethical supply chains
  • Cutting back on the environmental effects of chemicals in producing the fibre used in manufacturing.
  • Lowering the number of discarded garments in landfills.

As a sustainable fashion brand, Nike has done an awesome job of making an inclusive social impact on local communities. Combined with innovation, Nike’s tried and tested techniques in producing state-of-the-art sports apparel has empowered and supported the most deeply rooted individuals in keeping their production line green and local.

How Ethical And Sustainable Is Nike?

Not long ago, Nike was synonymous with improper manufacturing and sweatshops. In this day where every man, woman, and child probably owns a pair, it comes as a surprise that the brand was once cited for poor working conditions and low wages. Regarded as one of the most respected and reliable sports brands, Nike has since then increased its factory audits, raised the minimum age of their workers, and has significantly improved its production monitoring efforts.

Thanks to heavyweight endorsers such as Michael Jordan and Manny Pacquiao, Nike has strongly transformed its image from being corrupt and immoral to a recognized leader in sustainability. Lauded, as one of the most sustainable footwear and apparel companies for their amazing social and environmental performance, Nike has fast become the world’s top-selling activewear brand.

To provide athletes with a world where it is safe to play and enjoy sports, train, and realize their full potential, here are the steps that Nike is doing to promote ethical and sustainable clothing.

Sustainable development goals at Nike

  • Nike is a member of the UN Climate Change and Fashion Industry for better production transparency.
  • The brand formed a global sustainability team to promote their crop production and recycling efforts better.
  • Collaborated with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation on Circular Fibres Initiative to seek help on how to reduce waste.
  • They installed a sustainability program for their head offices worldwide which includes recycling and composting plans.
  • Nike is currently working together with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition for an advanced understanding of how it is to be a trustworthy sustainable brand.

Materials Used in manufacturing at Nike

  • Although not yet significant, Nike now uses recycled materials on some of their products.
  • A Reuse-A-Shoe program called Nike Grind, where up to 32 million pairs of Nike’s have so far been collected, uses old, ground shoes to build community spaces.
  • Nike created Flyleather, which is fashioned out from 50% recycled leather from discarded floor fibres.
  • PFC-based finishes will be phased-out by 2021.
  • By opting to use sustainable cotton, the brand has saved up to 32 billion litres of water.
  • They conform to the Materials Sustainability Index to keep track of a product’s energy, waste, and chemical use.

Manufacturing Practices at Nike

  1. While currently at only 75%, Nike is aiming to source 100% renewable energy across all of the company’s operations by 2025.
  2. A few years back, the company recycled or turned 99.9% of footwear manufacturing waste into energy.
  3. Nike allows incentives to its suppliers to improve their sustainability performance.
  4. They recycle more than half of the waste in their footwear factories.
  5. The brand is currently looking into alternative packaging where shipments can be more environmentally friendly.
  6. Nike complies with the Footwear Sustainability Index and the Apparel Sustainability Index.

As the world’s largest manufacturer of athletic shoes, apparel, and equipment, Nike has dedicated itself to promoting the safety and well-being of people and the environment. They may have had troubling issues in the past but what’s important is that at present, their practices live up to their principles.

We at Spendow collaborate with numerous charities and leading brands like Nike as well as various donors to create a fundraising solution that brings together the advantages of eCommerce with traditional fundraising. As a result, over 2,000 leading brands and retailers donate a percentage from their transactions to a charity of their choice with no hidden or additional cost. Visit our website Spendow to learn more about how we can further promote ethical and sustainable brands, creating a community of dependable and eco-friendly firms.


Although there might still be a way to go, most people would agree that Nike’s practices have undoubtedly improved. With efforts in promoting their label as a sustainable and ethical brand, along with an abundance of promising environmental measures, there is simply no reason for us to doubt that this athletic apparel giant can just do it.