Overall, UGG is an extremely well known brand that has a lot of market influence. The company sights the SDG’s throughout their website, confirming that they know what it takes to live in a sustainable world. There have been many initiatives that have been achieved by the company, which is always great, but that doesn’t mean they are sustainable. The global interconnectedness of the economy incentivises companies to sell their product on all corners of the globe, but the impact of that is unsustainable nd we are already seeing the impacts of being careless with our production and consumption decisions.
All of the fur on UGGs is made from sheepskin. Now some animal activists might be appalled, but all of their sheep fur and skin are a byproduct of animals that are already being killed for the meat industry. UGG makes sure that all of their sheep products come from the byproduct industry rather than being killed for the primary purpose of using the skin. In addition 97.33% of their hides are traceable through the Leather Working Group, an organization that facilitates with tracing the hides through the supply chain. My objection to what UGG slippers are made of has nothing to do with the fact that much of it comes from sheepskin, I actually think it’s great that every part of the animal is used to the fullest extent. The real problem is the rubber and chemical adhesives and dyes. Although rubber can be extracted naturally from a specific type of tree, the majority of rubber is made from petroleum, which is a common type of fossil fuel. Additionally, many of the adhesives used to seal the shoe together are not good for human health or the environment. One accomplishment that UGG has made is that they have removed PFC’s from their supply chain, which is a compound that makes shoes water resistant but also accumulates in the water and does not disintegrate.
UGGs boasts how they only source their sheepskin from countries with the highest animal welfare standards, and claim that they care about the environment. However, their products are manufactured in Australia, China, and other Southeast Asian countries, and then distributed from the U.S to locations all over the globe. All of their manufacturing and transportation processes rely solely on fossil fuels. Their manufacturing techniques require many chemicals and massive amounts of energy, all of which eventually end up in a landfill. UGGs take a long time to degrade because of all of the adhesives, and 100% of UGGs end up in a landfill at the end of their lifecycle. While UGG is trying to reduce the amount of plastic in their packaging, they could just use biodegradable packing peanuts or paper to make sure the shoes are safe. There are many other shoe brands that are stylish, affordable, and also take the Sustainable Development Goals seriously.
In their Ethical Supplier Code of Conduct UGG states that they adhere to all labor and wage laws. Many of their garments are produced in China and Vietnam, which have notoriously low labor and wage protections. They partner with the group that works to empower women within their supply chain, but there was very little information on the actual efforts being made.