Nike Or Adidas? Which one is more sustainable?

In the market for some new sports shoes?  Looking for an ethical and sustainable choice?  Are you confused about choosing between Adidas Or Nike?


Adidas and Nike are the leaders in the sports shoes and apparels industry. There are other well-known and high-quality brands available in the market, but for now let’s take a deeper look at these two.


Nike And Adidas Sustainable Initiatives

Both Adidas and Nike have taken significant steps to reduce their environmental impact. Both started using sustainable materials, sustainable production, and sustainable recycling.


Adidas shoes

Adidas shoes made from marine plastic waste


The company has announced 6 priorities it hopes to achieve by 2020. Reducing water usage, paper usage, and energy usage and using sustainable cotton are among those targets. Adidas also has teamed up with Parley to save the ocean. The company started a line of products using plastics taken from the ocean to produce sports shoes and apparel. Reebok, as a subset of Adidas group, has recently introduced plant-based sustainable shoes that are produced from sustainable materials.


Today, Nike is counted among sustainability leaders in its industry. The company focuses on important stakeholders that will evaluate Nike’s green initiatives, which could enhance the Nike brand and corporate reputation. It is also good to say that The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland recognized Nike and Patagonia for their efforts in reducing waste in their process and products. Based on the company’s mission statement, being innovative is one of the main characteristics of Nike. In addition to advanced technology focused on improving its products’ performance and quality, the company is also innovative in terms of sustainability. Nike tries to develop new ways of production and materials to reduce its impact on the environment. Some examples of Nike’s sustainable initiatives include FlyKnit and ColorDry technologies. Nike is also active in recycling and investing in future technologies to preserve the environment.

Nike flyknit shoes uses less materials for less waste


Ethical Initiative

Sustainability is about more than the environment. Both companies are looking at the ways they impact society and communities around the world.


Adidas is investing in various programs to address some of the major social issues. A good example of these is the “Sport needs a space” campaign in which Adidas tries to empower people, improve health and inspire action. Adidas is also active in providing support for refugees, developing relationships with organizations that help bring supplies into affected area by natural disasters, empowering women, and providing support for some activities related to fighting breast cancer, getting kids active by providing free preschool activities.


Nike has been through the fire. About 20 years ago, many people were protesting outside of Nike stores and the media painted Nike as the villain amid child labor and sweatshop allegations. As a result of this negative publicity, the company started to demonstrate transparency by publishing CSR reports annually from 2005. Nike implements programs to empower women and address other social issues like equality. Nike’s “Community Impact” is also active in getting kids active and creating positive impact in local communities.


Publicity initiatives

Adidas and Nike are the main competitors in this market, but they handle the marketing and promoting differently.


Adidas seems to be proud of its sustainable initiatives. For example, there was a soccer match between two famous European teams, Real Madrid and Bayern München, and Adidas as the sponsor of their Jerseys decided to provide the products that were produced with plastics collected from the ocean. That was a wonderful way of demonstrating of its sustainability. Moreover, Adidas has introduced some specific environmentally friendly products and advertised them without any fear of adverse impact on customers’ perceptions of quality.

Adidas sustainablility report

Adidas sustainablility report


Nike does not want to advertise its environmentally friendly activities.  I am not sure why they are taking the quiet road but it may be because of negative impact on consumers’ perceptions of quality. The other reason might be because of the bad reputation of the past workforce scandal. If Nike claims that it is going green there might be backlash.



Nike or Adidas? Adidas.

This may not be the obvious answer because Nike’s initiatives are more effective, but Adidas’ focus on promoting their initiatives will raise consumer demand for green products. Which one is more sustainable?  Nike might do better and invest more in sustainability programs than Adidas, but I would rather buy a pair of shoes that is known to be environmentally-friendly. The impact that these huge companies can have on the market is remarkable. If a consumer demands environmentally friendly products, companies will launch more and more of these types. Therefore, the market might finally accept that green is cool. It’s all about the consumers and what they want.  So, in my view, the best way to make a change in this market is by demanding green products. As Adidas accepts that there is a market for the environmentally friendly products and proudly advertises their own products, I recommend buying the products that are clearly recognized as environmentally-friendly ones, such as Parley shoes. Or a sports jersey that is produced from recycled materials. We should be proud of using green products.

Nike Adidas
Environment A B
Ethics B B






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About the Author

Iman is an environmentalist. With one masters in business management and soon another one in sustainability management, he is all about incorporating the benefit of the natural environment and ethics into business activities. His focus is on green marketing and consumer behaviour which he has done much research on. In addition to being a researcher, he is also very interested in sports especially basketball and volleyball.

3 thoughts on “Nike Or Adidas? Which one is more sustainable?

  1. your ending conclusion is missing the main point of sustainability by miles in opinion. Communicating that your sustainable while your efforts are minimal and less effective relates for me to the all famous green-washing. I would buy the clothes of a company that is addressing its issues more effectively. Good perceptions in this piece, but ending conclusion terribly wrong.

  2. Pingback: Searching for Planet-Friendly Fashion? -

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