Nike Stands up to Illegal Leather

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Nike at footasylum
Nike has joined other global brands for a moratorium on illegal Amazon leather.

Nike is one of a handful of global footwear giants who have made a stand against the supply of illegal Amazon leather. Nike has joined Adidas, Clarks and Timberland, demanding suppliers stop sending them leather from illegal ranches in the rainforest. The leather impacts drastically on the ever-depleting rainforest, as illegal ranchers clear the forest in order to create land for grazing cattle.

Nike Unknowingly Accepted Unsustainable Leather

The ecological pressure group Greenpeace raised awareness of the issue in a published report that highlighted that shoe companies, including Nike, were accepting the illegal leather unknowingly. There are legal ranchers and illegal ranchers at work in the Amazon – the illegal ranchers are said to clear rainforest with fire to create the conditions for cattle farming. Greenpeace said the leather from both legal and illegal ranches were frequently mixed up on exportation from Brazil, making it impossible for shoe companies like Nike to differentiate between what's legal and what's not.

Greenpeace Exposes Illegal Leather Trade

For sport brands like Nike that take their ethical image seriously, making the stand was a crucial move to create positive corporate pr. The Greenpeace report said the illegal leather used by brands like Nike, was “criminal” and “dirty” with the illegal leather “laundered” through the supply chain. The Greenpeace report that triggered Nike, Adidas, Clarks and Timberland to join a moratorium against illegal leather, took three years to research. The pressure group undertook undercover investigative work to examine company records and government papers as well as to visit the illegal ranches in the rainforest. Greenpeace than contacted shoe companies such as Nike directly to inform them of their findings.

Nike Signs Policy Document

Nike has now signed a policy document that insists all suppliers can certify that they are “...supplying leather for Nike Inc. products from cattle raised outside the Amazon biome.” The shoe giant Timberland added that they were grateful Greenpeace exposed the depth of the problem within the Brazilian leather supply chain. And Adidas added that support was crucial across the footwear industry to use only sustainable methods to stop deforestation. Nike said a system of governance was needed that ensured all leather consignments were easily traced back to their source. It's estimated that a fifth of the Amazon has suffered deforestation since 1970, resulting in the loss of crucial habitat and biodiversity, and impacting drastically on greenhouse gases and man-made climate change.

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