Archive for April, 2010

Leadership from the Leather Working Group

The Leather Working Group (LWG) is a multi-stakeholder group which seeks to promote sustainable environmental business practices within the footwear leather industry.   As a founding and active member of the LWG, Timberland has participated over the past several years in the Group’s efforts to make tanners better aware of best practices and resources, and to help them improve the environmental impacts of their own operations and products.

When the environmental issue of deforestation in the Amazon came front and center about a year ago, the LWG once again proved invaluable in convening its stakeholders to influence positive change in the leather industry.  The LWG  environmental stewardship protocol (which many LWG brands use to assess their suppliers) now includes a section on hide traceability … which will ultimately ensure that the origin of the materials with their supply chains is known and traceable all the way back to the plant where the hides originated.

In Earthkeeper-speak, this all means that the LWG takes the issue of deforestation (as we all do) very seriously — seriously enough to include in their assessment protocol the requirement that suppliers must be able to trace the origin of their leather, all the way back to the cow.  It may sound simple enough, but in fact this level of traceability is tougher than finding a needle in a haystack … and when you consider that cattle grazing is a primary cause of Amazon deforestation, it’s way more important.

We’re proud of the LWG’s efforts to be a part of an important problem-solving effort — not just for our industry, but for the global environment.

To read the Leather Working Group’s recent press statement regarding hide traceability in Brazil, click here:

Leather Working Group press apr26

We Came, We Saw, We Got Good and Dirty

One of the reasons Timberland is a Great Place to Work is because of the opportunities we have to go out and do good things in our communities and for our environment … as a team, on company time.  Here’s a flavor of the positive impact (and fun) we had last week on Earth Day:

All This Fun and a Paycheck, Too!

Outside Magazine’s annual Best Places to Work list is out … and we’re pleased as could be that Timberland ranks #31 (shout out to our brothers and sisters at SmartWool, too – they’re #18)!

Outside’s list recognizes 50 companies that best enable employees to balance productivity with an active, eco-conscious lifestyle.  We’re honored to be included in this year’s round up along with the likes of Patagonia, Nau, Seventh Generation and Clif Bar.

With  a free on-site fitness center to keep us active, 40 hours of paid time off to invest in our communities and the opportunity to create great green products for other outdoor-lovers, we feel pretty lucky to be here … and mighty proud of the recognition.

You can view the entire Best Places to Work list on Outside Magazine’s website … and stay tuned for an Outside TV segment highlighting Timberland as well as several of this year’s other Best Places to Work.

Happy 40th (B)Earthday!

We’re honoring the 40th anniversary of Earth Day this year with 140+ community service projects across the globe – planned and executed by 7,600 eager and enthusiastic Earthkeepers.  That’s one mother of a celebration!

Here are just a few of the ways in which we’re pulling on our boots to make a difference around the world:

  • In the Dominican Republic, nearly 600 Timberland employees and more than 800 community volunteers will join forces to plant 18,000 trees in the communities of Sajoma and Santiago (that’s more than 12 trees per person!).
  • Working with the local chapter of the National FFA Association, 100 volunteers in Newfields, NH (close to our corporate headquarters) will design and plant a sustainable landscape at the historic town library and construct raised garden beds to enhance a community garden.
  • As part of our ongoing (9 years and counting) commitment to reforestation in China, 200 volunteers will plant 600 trees in Beijing.  The Earth Day tree planting will serve as a warm-up for when we plant our one millionth tree in China’s Horqin Desert in August.

In 40 years’ time, Earth Day has gone from radical environmental protest to mainstream movement engaging millions … but at the same time, the threat of critical impact from global warming is greater now than ever.  While it’s good news that more and more people are actively engaging in Earth Day, even more important is active engagement on a constant basis.  Here’s how you can help:

Stay tuned for photos, videos and first-hand accounts from our Earth Day events worldwide!

Local Community Engagement – What’s Your Idea?

Green Mountain Coffee and Ashoka’s Changemakers have come together to find and help fund the most innovative ideas that strengthen and improve communities in Maine, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut or Massachusetts.

Why do we think this is a cool idea? At Timberland, we’re committed to engaging with the people and environment where we live and work. We want our business impact to leave a positive footprint, and our employees often lead community service projects in our own backyard – whether it be near our New Hampshire-based Headquarters (like this week’s upcoming Earth Day activities) or in offices, stores, and other locations around the world.

It makes sense – as an outdoor company, our mission is to equip people to make their difference in the world. And that’s why through programs like Timberland’s Path of Service, all full time employees get 40 paid hours to give back to the community – in ways that are meaningful to them.

Green Mountain Coffee and Ashoka’s Changemakers Revelation to Action competition embodies the same principles that we espouse. This week is the last week to submit ideas for the competition. Nominations are eligible for grants (that will total $50,000 when combined, in addition to other prizes).

I’ve agreed to be a judge for this competition because it’s aligned with Timberland’s values, but also because it allows everyday citizens to get engaged in their communities – and that is what Earthkeeping is all about. Submissions will be judged according to criteria that prioritizes innovation, social impact, and sustainability. The most innovative projects that inspire others to help make their community a better place to live will win.

So what are you waiting for? Do you have a great idea? Or do you want to help decide which projects are worthy? Use your voice to help me and my fellow judges Bill McKibben, Newman’s Own Michael Havad and Brown University’s Alan Harlam decide which local New England projects should win.

And don’t forget, Timberland’s Earthkeeper community also provides lots of opportunities for everyday citizens to help companies make responsible decisions. Visit our Voices of Challenge dialogue to have your say it comes to Timberland’s climate change, product stewardship, workplaces, and community engagement programs.

Beth Holzman
CSR Strategy & Reporting Manager, Timberland

Letter From a Quiet Workshop in Haiti

Following his first post-earthquake trip to Haiti in January, Billy Shore (Timberland board member and founder and executive director of Share Our Strength) shared his experiences and observations with us here on the Earthkeeper blog.  We’re honored to share the following update from Billy on the heels of this week’s journey back to Haiti:

We returned to Haiti this week, on the three month anniversary of the earthquake, to try to keep some of the promises implicit in our first visit. Once again, Timberland CEO Jeff Swartz made it possible for us to bring a delegation that met with everyone from the Minister of Health to the World Food Program. There’s more to tell than will fit here. Not all of it is hopeful.  But one moment was and I wish you’d have been there to see it.

At a crowded intersection in downtown Port au Prince stands a building not damaged by the earthquake. On the wall is a painted sign that says Handicap International. In front of the building the chaos of the capital plays out as cars race by and people swarm through the streets while others stand waiting for the packed minivan buses known as tap-taps.  Inside the building it is also crowded but very, very quiet.

The first two rooms on the ground floor are unlit and dusty, with work tables and machines and electric cords snaking across the floor. A few lanterns are hung from the ceiling. This is one of only two workshops in Port of Prince responsible for making prosthetic limbs for the several thousand new amputees recovering from the trauma sustained when crushed by falling buildings.  A dozen artificial limbs in various states of construction are leaning against a wall, as if dancers on prom night taking a rest. Technicians at lathes stare at blueprints and specifications to make sure the next limb will fit the next body.

We are being led through the building by Antoinne Engrande, a 35 year old from France who came here after spending two years working with victims of mines in Sierra Leone, and before that Iraq and before that the Mideast.  There is not much he hasn’t seen, but he says this is the worst.  The waiting list for limbs numbers more than one hundred some three months since the quake.

In the back is a sunlit open courtyard with benches that line the perimeter. There sit at least a dozen Haitians: men, women, boys and girls who have lost one or both legs in the earthquake.   Some have family members with them who seem to hang back as if realizing that they will never truly understand that one their love one is going through.
An elderly woman in a green dress is being coaxed forward to take her first steps on her temporary prosthetic device. A somewhat angry young man in his early thirties is sitting and waiting for a technician. A beautiful dark haired girl of thirteen or fourteen sits in a clean red dress sits with her eyes cast down toward the ground as she gently rubs the jagged scar at the stump of her right leg.  A young boy of about eight is in a chair and having the stump of his leg eased into the soft socket of the artificial limb.  He is wearing a Star Wars t-shirt whose bold logo suggests that anything is possible though it is far from clear that he can lay claim to such optimism. I don’t know his name but let’s call him Skywalker.  Another dozen amputees sit in chairs waiting and staring into the distance.

Gripping a set of parallel bars a middle aged woman who lost her leg almost to her hip is trying to bear weight on her new device.  Success will be partly a challenge of technology but mostly a matter of trust.

Even before the earthquake Haiti had almost no capacity to handle rehabilitation after amputation. The technicians and therapists working with the patients are volunteers brought in from El Salvador which is home to a prominent prosthetic training school. They speak neither French nor Creole spoken throughout Haiti. Their patients are having the most important conversations of their lives through pantomime and hand signals. But what they lack in language they make up in tenderness.  One young woman whispers something soothing to the girl whose face seems more stricken than her injured body. A volunteer from Australia gently taps Skywalker’s stump to probe for and be able to protect the areas where he will feel the most discomfort.

I’ve come to visit with former Senator Bob Kerrey who lost his right leg in Vietnam and has been active ever since in helping build prosthetic clinics in places that have none.  He is talking to the young man in his thirties and it is not clear that he is getting through to him. I see Bob do something I’ve only seen him do once in the 26 years we’ve been friends. He pulls up the cuff of his right pant leg and shows the man that he too has a prosthetic limb.  It’s not clear whether the gesture has its intended impact but across the room, the young girl who has been sitting sadly sees this out of the corner of her eye and becomes suddenly animated. Her hand shoots out, flutters and grasps to grab the attention of the therapist with whom she cannot speak. She points toward Bob, insists that the therapist look to, and for the first time that day her face breaks out in a huge grin.

Meanwhile eight year old Skywalker is now being lifted up to take his first step since he was injured months ago. He is trying to be brave but he winces a bit with the pain of using new muscles. No less than four technicians are kneeling around him, one helping him balance, another assessing his step, another whispering encouragement. He tries again and his eyes fill with tears. There is bravery and determination in this action that most of us take for granted. My memory flashes back to Neil Armstrong taking that first tentative step on the moon. I think about what a powerful a moment that was, and how it was nothing compared to this.

I’ll write again soon to tell you more about the conditions here and the progress we are making. Some problems, like those here in Haiti, are so complex that they almost defy response.  They leave us feeling almost helpless with options that are not governmental but personal, not strategic but instinctual.  They reinforce the often underestimated value of just a little tenderness.   More than anything they remind us that of all the challenges that still lie ahead, sometimes the greatest courage of all lies in taking that one first step.

Billy

Single Earthkeeper Seeks Same …

Green has become a factor in so many aspects of our everyday life: organic food, energy-efficient cars, shoes made with recycled materials.  But how important is green when it comes to choosing a mate?  According to a new study (conducted by Timberland), it might matter more than  you think.  Among our survey findings:

No one loves a litter bug (well – almost no one).  54% of men would think twice before starting a relationship with someone who litters. Others would wonder if a woman was worth dating if she doesn’t recycle (25%), leaves the lights on when not at home (23%) or drives a gas-guzzler (20%).

Green girls are keepers. One in four men think “green” women make better life partners (24%) or friends (27%) than those who aren’t as environmentally responsible.

Date night ain’t for couch potatoes. Grab your hiking boots and a shovel — 41% of men would be more interested in an “adventure” date like hiking or rock climbing or a service-focused date like tree planting than a more traditional “dinner and a movie” date.

Click here for additional survey results and then tell us — how important is green when it comes to your own dating and mating?  Is littering a deal-breaker, recycling a must-have?  Share your thoughts here.

Headed Back to Haiti

Early next week, Timberland President and CEO Jeff Swartz will return to Haiti for the second time since January’s earthquake. Jeff will travel with a powerful team of individuals representing a variety of industries and specialties, united in their desire to contribute to supporting Haiti and its people – both today, and looking into the future.

Among those joining Jeff next week:

Bill Shore, founder of Share Our Strength
Cat Cora, founder of Chefs for Humanity
Stephanie Dodson, co-founder and director of Strategic Grant Partners
Former Nebraska Governor and Senator Bob Kerrey
Winifred Danke, executive director of the Prosthetic Outreach Foundation

Hunger, prosthetics and economic development are three very different but very real needs that have emerged in Haiti in the wake of the earthquake, and the team traveling to Haiti next week will work to assess those needs and help create actionable, sustainable solutions to each. Specifically, they’ll be meeting with NGOs and Haitian government officials providing prosthetics and rehabilitation for injured Haitians, visit schools with the World Food Program and hospitals where Partners in Health are working, and see first hand the progress being made through agricultural initiatives being implemented by our partner Yele Haiti and Chefs for Humanity.

Stay tuned for an update from Jeff next week after his return; until then, please join us in thanking this group for their commitment to creating a positive impact for Haiti and its people.

Doing More to Make Less Impact

It always feels good when you stick to your diet … which is in essence what we’ve done to reduce Timberland’s greenhouse gas emissions (which includes Timberland owned and operated facilities and employee air travel) by 36% over our 2006 baseline.  Even better, we’re on track to reach our goal of a 50% emissions reduction by the end of 2010.

How did we get to the 36% reduction?  Primarily through increased energy efficiency at our retail locations, renewable energy procurement at our distribution facilities and decreases in employee air travel.  Here’s the skinny:

Retail: Timberland is the first company to achieve the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Retail certification for mall-based stores. All new Timberland® stores in North America are built to LEED specifications, and we achieved energy savings by installing state-of-the-art LED lighting in nearly all of our US stores.

Distribution Facilities: By the end of 2009, we sourced approximately 12% renewable energy globally. We use primarily solar power in our Ontario, CA, distribution center and a full 100% wind power at our Enschede, Netherlands site. And in 2009, our Danville, KY distribution center began purchasing locally-produced renewable electricity.

Employee Air Travel: By asking employees to consider alternatives to travel and prioritizing alternative options (including the use of virtual presence and Web conferencing), we’ve been able to reduce the amount of air travel employees use.

Proud as we are of this progress, we realize we’ve still got a long way to go.  Since a large portion of our emissions come from within our supply chain (which we don’t directly control), we’re working hard with our suppliers to help them assess their own energy consumption and implement energy-efficiency strategies.

A press release further detailing our emissions reduction and other highlights of our CSR performance can be found on the Timberland website.

Jeff Swartz, Matthew Bishop Talk Sustainable Business

Our own Jeff Swartz had the opportunity to sit down with the Economist‘s US Business Editor Matthew Bishop at the Corporate Citizenship conference last month.  Their conversation ran the gamut from Jeff’s choice of footwear to competitive collaboration to the business imperative for a sustainability strategy.  We think it’s an exchange worth watching … if for no other reason than to see a NH bootmaker wearing a suit jacket (not an every day occurrence):