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Is Nike ethical and sustainable?

The Good Shopping Guide gives Nike, a global fashion and sports brand based in the US, a low ethical rating. Unfortunately, this brand receives a low Good Shopping Guide Ethical Score in our Ethical Shoes & Trainers Ratings Table and has not yet met our minimum Ethical Benchmark. This brand has several areas to improve upon before it would likely qualify for our Ethical Accreditation.

For more information about the ethical issues involved in the shoe sector, see our comprehensive industry guide to Shoes & Trainers.

In what areas does Nike perform poorly for its sustainability and ethics?

As a brand that stocks real-leather products, vegans and vegetarians may want to avoid this brand. But more generally, Nike does not score well for its Animal Welfare policies; ​​Nike has a Materials Policy which confirms the brand permits the use of kangaroo skin. Nike has been criticised by various animal welfare groups for this.

Nike is also infamous for its many Human Rights infringements. There are too many to address in this short article however, here are some examples of Nike’s controversial business practices…

Over 1 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minority ethnic groups in the far-western region have been rounded up, imprisoned, and forcedly indoctrinated by the Communist Party of China as part of its imprisonment campaign. A coalition of more than 180 human rights organisations is urging merchants and clothing companies to quit supporting the Chinese government’s abuse of human rights by using forced labour in the Uyghur Region. Nike is one of the companies that coalition members accuse of not doing enough to recognise and end business ties with forced labour associated with the Uyghur Region.

In the Xinjiang region of China, where Uyghur minorities are purportedly subjected to forced labour in “re-education” camps, a number of well-known corporations have been linked to violations of human rights. The camps, which the Chinese government refers to as vocational education centres, are allegedly required to combat terrorism in Xinjiang and “guarantee its smooth economic transition.” According to an ASPI investigation, 80,000 Uyghurs who had previously attended re-education camps had now been placed in factories all throughout China as part of the so-called “Xinjiang Aid” programme. The Haoyuanpeng Clothing Manufacturing Co., one of these so-called “Xinjiang Aid” firms, promotes strategic alliances with Nike, adidas, and Puma as well as Fila.

In what areas does Nike perform well for its sustainability and ethics?

As such a huge multinational with such a massive environmental impact, we expect Nike’s Environmental Report to be thorough and comprehensive. Good news for ethical consumers; it is! Nike’s targets include: using only renewable energy in owned or operated facilities by the end of FY25 and reducing overall waste while continuing to reduce trash from the manufacturing of shoes by totally eliminating landfill use. Another positive from this report is that Nike also provides an explanation of how they are measuring and aiming to achieve these targets.

How can the Nike brand improve its Ethical Rating?

The Good Shopping Guide’s score results from 15 ethical criteria in relation to Nike. To reach our Ethical Benchmark and qualify for our Ethical Accreditation, Nike has several issues to deal with, including its Human Rights and Animal Welfare violations.

If your shoes and trainers brand values ethics and sustainability, why not check out The Good Shopping Guide’s Ethical Accreditation? Increase customer and investor confidence and stand out from the greenwash.

Ethical performance in category


GSG score


GSG category benchmark


Ethical Rating


  • Environmental Report


  • Nuclear Power


  • Sustainable Materials


  • Fossil Fuels



  • Animal Welfare


  • Vegan Options



  • Armaments


  • Code of Conduct


  • Political Donations


  • Ethical Trading Schemes


  • Human Rights


  • Human Rights+



  • Ethical Accreditation


  • Other Criticisms


  • Other Criticisms+


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