Is Chaco an Ethical Brand? Let’s Take a Closer Look

Is Chaco an Ethical Brand? Let’s Take a Closer Look 1 -
Is Chaco an Ethical Brand? Let’s Take a Closer Look 1 -

Is Chaco an Ethical Brand? Let’s Take a Closer Look

My friend Sara recently asked me if Chaco sandals are made ethically. As an outdoor enthusiast herself who tries to support responsible brands, she wanted to know more before purchasing her next pair of Chacos.

“It’s a fair question,” I told her. “We want to feel good about the brands we buy from.”

I explained that I’d done some research into Chaco’s ethics. While they seem to care about certain causes meaningful to their customers genuinely, some aspects of their manufacturing and transparency apparently still need work. Let’s take a closer look together at what I found.

Evaluating Chaco’s Sustainability Practices and Ratings

Is Chaco an Ethical Brand? Let’s Take a Closer Look 2 -
Is Chaco an Ethical Brand? Let’s Take a Closer Look 2 –

“Well, Sara, the first thing I checked was Chaco’s rating on Good On You.” I pulled it up on my phone to show her. “This site rates brands on how ethical or sustainable they are. As you can see, Chaco earns only an ‘Not Good Enough’ overall.”

“Aw, really?” said Sara. “But I love how durable their sandals are! And don’t they plant trees for conservation?”

“They do have some good initiatives that way,” I agreed. “But let’s break down these ratings a bit…”

  • Environmental Impact: 2 out of 5. I explained they use few eco-friendly materials or processes to reduce impacts. “Though they have a goal to cut greenhouse emissions 30% by 2030, which is something.”
  • Labor Practices: 1 out of 5. “This one is more worrying,” I admitted. “They don’t publicly show steps to pay fair living wages or support diversity in their supply chains.”
  • Animal Welfare: 2 out of 5. “Yeah, they still use some leather,” I noted. “But no fur at least.”

Sara nodded slowly. “Hmm, it seems like they could do better caring for both people and the planet.”

Appreciating Chaco’s Community Values and Charitable Giving

“For sure,” I agreed. “And we should acknowledge some of their positives too. Like how Chaco works to preserve rivers and public lands in the U.S.,” I showed Sara their Five Thousand Miles of Wild campaign. “Their brand values connect with getting outdoors – they aren’t all talk.”

Sara smiled. “That does sound nice. Maybe I’ll feel better wearing their sandals hiking by a river then!”

We laughed. “Could be!” I said. “But for really eco-friendly brands, we might also check out options like The Artful Mitten or Bleed, too…”

Considering Chaco’s History and Recent Changes

“Chaco also started out as a scrappy brand,” I explained. “Crafting durable sandals for raft guides and climbers back in 1989. Customers loved that outdoor, adventurous vibe.”

Sara nodded enthusiastically. “Yeah, and now they make cute boots and stuff too! I noticed some around campus.”

“True, they’ve grown a lot since their small beginnings. But did you know Chaco actually got acquired by a huge corporation in 2009?” I asked.

Sara’s brow furrowed. “No way – which one?”

“Wolverine Worldwide.” I pulled up an article on my phone. “They own a bunch of big shoe brands, like Merrell, Saucony, Sperry…”

“Uh oh,” said Sara. “Did that change things for Chaco?”

“In some ways, yes…” I kept reading the details. “It seems they moved production overseas to China after that. And relocated the brand away from Colorado, where it started.”

I glanced back up at Sara. “So we need to keep that context in mind evaluating Chaco now versus 30 years ago.”

Pushing Chaco for More Supply Chain Transparency

“Definitely important context,” agreed Sara. “Do we even know much about their supply chains or factories now?”

I shook my head. “Unfortunately, no – that’s another area Chaco falls short on. They got a really low grade for transparency about their manufacturing and partners.”

Sara crossed her arms. “Well, that’s no good! We want to feel confident about the full story of how our gear gets made.”

“Exactly,” I agreed. “It holds Chaco back from being a truly ethical brand. That behind-the-scenes info should be accessible for conscious customers like us.”

Comparing Chaco’s Ethics to Alternative Brands

“When you stack Chaco up against some other outdoor brands,” I went on, “their ethics don’t shine too brightly.”

I showed Sara a few alternatives. “Like check out values-driven companies such as The Artful Mitten. A fellow woman-owned brand right from Colorado that earns outstanding ethical marks for sourcing and transparency.”

Sara nodded, studying them. “Those are super cute mittens too! And way more eco-friendly materials.”

“Right?” I smiled. “Just one example, but it shows there are brands making apparel more ethically than Chaco currently does.”

Making Our Voices Heard as Conscious Consumers

“So where does that leave us?” asked Sara.

“Well,” I said, “we still have power here as customers! Our dollars and voices can steer brands like Chaco to keep improving.”

I pulled up a consumer campaign I’d found online. “See, here’s an initiative advocating they commit to 100% renewable energy by 2030. Through group action and raising awareness, we can push better practices.”

Sara nodded firmly. “I’m totally down to get involved there. Hand me a pen – where do we sign up?”

Laughing, we sat down together to compose a blog post on ethical shoes. I smiled, grateful to have a thoughtful friend like Sara help make companies a little more responsible, one step at a time.

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