Thursday, 13 September 2007

Ethical athletics

Ethletic is a company which produces shoes and sports balls in a way which is both environmentally and socially responsible.

They are the first in the world to help producers of rubber latex in Sri Lanka. They pay above the going rate in order that the living conditions of the workers are improved. Running water has been provided for the houses on the plantation, which not only eliminates the need to transport heavy loads of water but also improves the quality of the water. A canteen has been built where they can not only eat, but change their clothes and use the facilities.

The plantation has certification from the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) which is an organistion to protect forests and to encourage their responsible and sustainable management.

The balls they produce: footballs, basketballs, volleyballs, rugby balls, hand balls, are all FairTrade certified, meaning that the people who make them are paid a decent wage, sadly unlike many.

There are two websites for Ethletic, one in English, and the other in French, both of which are worth visiting because they have slightly different information on each.


  1. Hi ! I'm in a hurry, so let me write my comment in french... : C'est une très bonne idée, et j'espère que les grands fabricants de chaussures suivront l'exemple un jour pas trop lointain... Et qu'ils n'en augmenteront pas les prix (déjà assez élevés) pour autant, parce que souvent "commerce juste" et "écologie" sont des prétextes utilisés par certaines entreprises pour s'enrichir davantage, en augmentant les prix pour le consommateur final au lieu de réduire leurs marges de bénéfices (attention !, je ne dis pas que ce soit le cas d'Ethletics, je ne sais pas si les 35 £ environ que coûtent ces chaussures est un prix raisonnable par rapport à la qualité, au prix du marché, etc.)

  2. Hi Pablo, thank you so much for your comment-in-a-hurry! I'll translate it for anyone else interested:

    "It's a very good idea, and I hope the large makers of shoes will follow the example before too long... And that they don't raise the (already quite high) price for that, because often "fair trade" and "ecological" are pretexts used by certain businesses to make bigger profits by increasing the price to the final consumer instead of reducing their profit margins (Please note! I'm not saying that this is the case with Ethletics, I don't know if approximately £35 which these shoes cost is a reasonable price when quality, market price etc. are taken into account.)"

    I don't know the answer to your last point either. £35 doesn't seem too high a price but you can't really judge with actually seeing them.

  3. Thanks for the translation, A. !

    What's really a pity -and a shame- it's that long distance runners have to pay about 100€ for suitable running shoes (a very respectable amount if you think that, besides, you have to renew a pair of running shoes every few months) and that we all suspect the conditions under which these shoes are made in developping countries (despite the assertions of press departments of Nike, Adidas, Reebok, New Balance, Assics and all the rest). But we close our eyes, we prefer to think that "there's no choice, I really need the shoes"... Anyway, I'd be happy to pay those 100€ if I knew that I am buying in a context of fair trade...

  4. Pablo, yes I've heard the same about football manufacturing. There was quite a scandal recently in the UK about one particular make.


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