New Suit Comes for Nike’s ‘Misleading’ Sustainability Marketing

A Nike consumer is accusing the brand of greenwashing in a new lawsuit.

In a complaint filed Wednesday in a District Court in Missouri, plaintiff Maria Guadalupe Ellis claimed that Nike uses “deceptive and misleading” statements when marketing its sustainability collection. Specifically, the suit claims that Nike “deceives consumers into believing that they are receiving products that are ‘sustainable,’ ‘made with recycled fibers,” and can reduce one’s carbon footprint in a move to “zero carbon and zero waste.”

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Nike is taking advantage of consumers increasingly interested in eco-friendly products while failing to deliver on its promises in this realm, the suit alleges.

“[The plaintiff] would not have purchased the products if she had known that they were not sustainable, not made from sustainable materials and not environmentally friendly,” the suit read.

The complaint also cited the United States Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) “Green Guides” meant to help prevent companies from making deceptive claims.

FN has reached out to Nike for a comment.

The suit comes as awareness and interest in eco-friendly fashion surges, especially among Gen Z and millennial consumers. To win their favor, companies are increasingly marketing their products as sustainable, though the qualifications for using that term are still vague and the footwear industry has no uniform standard in place.

The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America created a shoe sustainability guide in 2021 about environmentally preferred materials (EPMs) to give benchmarks and goals for companies looking to reduce their environmental impacts.

Last year, Walmart and Kohl’s were respectively fined $2.5 million and $3 million in civil penalties by the FTC after being hit with allegations that they “falsely marketed dozens of rayon textile products as bamboo.” H&M has also been accused of “greenwashing” in lawsuits after using the controversial Higg Materials Sustainability Index, which it no longer uses to communicate sustainability claims with the public.

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