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Unveiling Athleta’s Sustainability Journey: A Deep Dive into Ethical Practices

Athleta, a brand under Gap, Inc., is actively venturing into sustainability, reflected in its ‘it’s a start’ environmental rating. This journey involves embracing eco-friendly materials and establishing science-based targets to combat climate change. However, certain aspects, like labor standards, demand closer scrutiny of the brand’s ethical practices.

Key Takeaways:

  • Athleta, owned by Gap, Inc., is on the sustainability path with an ‘it’s a start’ environmental rating.
  • The brand focuses on eco-friendly materials, including recycled options, but textile waste reduction efforts need improvement.
  • Athleta sets science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions but lacks clarity on progress.
  • Water security efforts earned Athleta an ‘A’ in the CDP questionnaire, showcasing responsible water management.
  • Labor standards fall short, with none of Athleta’s supply chain certified for worker rights and safety.
black women posing for ATHLETA brand photoshoot

Navigating Athleta’s Journey to Sustainability

Water Security and Management

Athleta earns accolades in water management, securing an ‘A’ in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) water security questionnaire. This accomplishment reflects the brand’s dedication to sustainable water practices within its supply chain.

Labor Standards and Transparency:

Athleta faces a notable gap in labor standards, receiving a ‘not good enough’ rating. The absence of labor certifications addressing worker rights highlights an area demanding improvement for the brand’s ethical stance. 

The Fashion Transparency Index, scoring between 41-50%, suggests moderate transparency. While supplier policies, audits, and some production stage information are disclosed, crucial aspects like living wage assurances are lacking.

Animal Welfare

Athleta’s animal welfare practices fall short, receiving a ‘not good enough’ rating. Although the brand maintains a basic formal policy, using materials like leather, wool, and exotic animal hair raises concerns. Notably, there’s a need for enhanced transparency in tracing animal products back to the initial production stage.


Is Athleta a sustainable brand?

Yes, Athleta is actively pursuing sustainability through environmental initiatives and eco-friendly material choices, emphasizing a commitment to reducing its environmental impact. While the brand demonstrates dedication to combating climate change, areas like labor standards and animal welfare need improvement for a higher sustainability rating. 

Athleta’s ongoing efforts and focus on ethical practices signal its journey toward becoming a more responsible and sustainable presence in the industry.

Is Athleta actively working to minimize textile waste during manufacturing?

Athleta’s current environmental efforts focus on material sustainability, including recycled options. However, evidence of active measures to reduce textile waste in manufacturing is yet to be established.

Is Athleta doing to combat climate change?

Athleta has set science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from its operations and supply chain. However, the transparency on progress toward these targets remains unclear.

How does Athleta manage water use in its supply chain?

Athleta excels in water management, receiving an ‘A’ in the CDP water security questionnaire. This reflects the brand’s commitment to responsible water usage.

Is Athleta’s supply chain certified for labor standards?

Unfortunately, none of Athleta’s supply chain has certifications ensuring worker health, safety, and living wages. This area requires improvement for ethical labor practices.

What is Athleta’s transparency level in its supply chain?

Athleta scores 41-50% on the Fashion Transparency Index, indicating disclosure of supplier policies, audits, and some information about production stages. However, further transparency is needed, particularly regarding forced labor, gender equality, and freedom of association.

Does Athleta ensure payment of a living wage in its supply chain?

There is currently no evidence to suggest that Athleta ensures the payment of a living wage within its supply chain, pointing to an area for improvement.

How does Athleta address animal welfare in its products?

Athleta’s animal rating is ‘not good enough’ as it uses materials like leather and wool. However, it refrains from fur, down, or exotic animal skins. Improvements in transparency regarding sourcing are needed.

What are the focus areas for Athleta’s sustainability improvement?

Athleta’s sustainability journey shows positive steps in material choices and emissions reduction. However, critical areas for improvement include labor standards, ensuring living wages, and enhancing animal welfare practices.


While Athleta showcases positive strides in its sustainability journey, including eco-friendly materials and emission reduction, it faces labor standards and animal welfare challenges. The brand’s commitment to continuous improvement is evident, and with further enhancements, Athleta has the potential to lead the industry in ethical and sustainable practices.

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