Is Nike Ethical? 4 Sustainable Alternatives—Updated for 2022

As a 90’s kid, I grew up seeing two sides of Nike. Their clothes and shoes were everywhere; the newest Nike footwear always topped my friends’ Christmas lists and served as a status symbol. And yet, the 90’s were also a time when Nike’s sweatshops, use of child labor, and horrific human rights violations flooded the news. This negative image of Nike was widespread and long-lasting, launching years of large-scale protests and boycotts.

So what about now? Is Nike ethical? Does Nike still use sweatshops and child labor?

Nike has worked hard in the past 20 years to clean up their act regarding labor violations and environmental impact. This is certainly something to celebrate. Even the smallest initiatives taken by a massive company can make an impact.

But Nike still has a way to go. They fail to trace all of their supply chain or guarantee a living wage for all workers. While we hope they continue to make strides in their labor and environmental policies, there is no shortage of ethical activewear and athletic brands that are already doing right by people and the planet! If you’re looking to move away from Nike for now, here are 4 DoneGood approved brands that you can start with:

Saola

Athletic shoes are Nike’s bread and butter, so if you’re looking for a high-quality alternative, be sure to check out Saola; they carry a variety of vegan sneakers for men and women. And beyond vegan, Saola goes the extra mile in those running shoes to make sure they're doing good for people and the planet. Their shoes are made from planet-friendly cork, algae foam, organic cotton, and recycled plastic bottles and they're ethically made in Vietnam.

Brand Values: Eco-friendly, gives back, organic, vegan, uses recycled/upcycled materials, cruelty-free

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Yoga Democracy

Yoga Democracy offers fun and colorful yoga pants, bras, and tops for women and girls with an active lifestyle! Yoga Democracy understands the importance of doing good for people and the planet. Their fabrics are made from recycled fibers, using water-saving techniques, and, instead of outsourcing, all of their products are ethically and locally made in the USA. 

Brand Values: Empowers workers, eco-friendly, gives back, vegan, toxin-free, made in the USA, uses upcycled/recycled materials, member 1% for the Planet

Use code YOGADEM20 and get 20% off your first purchase of Yoga Democracy items.

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Seek Dry Goods

seek dry goods

Nature-inspired activewear and gear for outdoor-lovers and adventurers—that’s what you’ll find at Seek Dry Goods. They believe in offering high-quality, responsibly-sourced lifestyle goods for your active lifestyle. Seek Dry Goods gives back with every purchase and they share stories of their own adventures—even tips from their process of turning a cargo van into a camper! 

Brand Values: Empowers workers, eco-friendly, gives back, organic, made in the USA, uses upcycled/recycled materials, woman-owned, member 1% for the Planet

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Groceries Apparel

Groceries Apparel has all kinds of casual and trendy apparel for men and women. So if you like Nike's street wear, we have a feeling you'll be into Groceries' hoodies, tees, joggers, and leggings. Groceries Apparel is all about keeping things simple and transparent. They use recycled and sustainable fabrics, dye their clothes with upcycled vegetable dyes, and share photos of their LA-based factory where their base pay is $17/hr. 

Brand Values: Empowers workers, eco-friendly, vegan, organic, made in the USA, uses recycled/upcycled materials, toxin-free

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Erin King
DoneGood Contributor

Writer, editor, and all-around language enthusiast who uses her love of words to help others.

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