Archive for July, 2010

Earthkeeping in Poland

On June 8, 54 Earthkeepers in Poland from Timberland and Marketing Investment Group headed out to the forest, the garden and the mountainside to wish Mother Nature a happy belated Earth Day. By breaking up into 6 groups and serving at a number of different service sites, the Earthkeepers in Poland were able to fix up trails, restore infrastructure and fences, clear out illegal dumping sites, protect a bridge and help with flood cleanup. All of this dedicated work took place at the nursery-garden Falsztyn, Homole Gully/Pieniny Mountains, White Water Preserve, Black Water Preserve and the Jaworki Forest.

At the Homole Gully/Pieniny Mountains service site, 5,400 liters of rubbish, pipe, bathtub pieces, and linoleum were collected, sorted and prepared for recycling. And at the White Water Preserve, 480 liters of rubbish was removed from the green landscape.

In total, the Timberland Poland team members completed 500 hours of service. We applaud the Earthkeepers in Poland for their hard work in celebration of our shared planet.

Crossing the Pacific in a Plastic Bottle Boat

Three cheers for the crew of the Plastiki, a 60-foot catamaran made from over 12,000 recycled plastic bottles:

Photo courtesy of AFP.com

The Plastiki just completed a 4-month journey across the Pacific Ocean, traveling from San Francisco, CA to Sydney, Australia … all in the name of plastic pollution awareness.

Along the way, Plastiki crew members endured rough weather and giant waves, and sailed by the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” formed by millions of pounds of plastic debris that have clustered together in the water.

Last spring, we shared the story of a similar vessel – JUNKraft – that sailed from California to Hawaii to raise awareness for the same environmental issue.  In the 2 years since JUNKraft made its journey, the “garbage patch” has continued to grow … indicating that there’s still more work to be done in controlling and reducing the plastic pollution problem.

Sailing the seas to create awareness is good … even better would be to sail the seas to create positive impact.  Anyone have a design idea for a plastic bottle boat equipped with a vacuum attachment?  If you’re going to make the journey, might as well pick up some trash along the way.

News Flash: Climate Legislation Lacks Leadership

Page 3 of this morning’s Wall Street Journal announces, “Senate Halts Effort to Cap CO2 Emissions.“  I am outraged … but not surprised.  Not in the least.

I was in Washington yesterday, on business unrelated to climate legislation — I was invited to a Congressional briefing on the role of private enterprise in rebuilding a devastated Haiti.  That’s a topic for another blog post … but it almost doesn’t matter why I was there, since the experience is so often the same regardless of the focus.  Too many so-called “leaders” posturing and posing and blowing hot air in form of prepared, approved, predictable remarks.  Too many politicians that have been entrusted to lead, to put the best interests of their states and their constituents first, instead doing predictably nothing to fulfill their duties or address any interest that isn’t their own, or that of their party.  Senate Democratic leadership shelved their cap-and-trade effort?  The most astonishing part about that news to me is that the effort ever made it this far.

The article could have stopped there, one paragraph in, but goes on to offer half a page of familiar excuses from climate legislation opponents for why cap and trade is to be feared and avoided like a deal with the devil.  I can see them — did see them, yesterday, our principled “leaders” — wringing their hands and shaking their heads and trying to work up expressions of earnest concern: “Cap and trade would kill jobs!  Cripple our industries! Put us at a disadvantage to Chinese rivals! Force higher costs for consumers!” From Congress and the President — instead of legislation, instead of engaged democracy, we get the EPA setting guidelines in a backroom somewhere.  This is not the way to make America energy independent, or to ensure that American business is sustainable–financially and environmentally.

Washington can – and will – continue on the path of pretense, working hard to appear to be working hard on the crisis facing our natural environment, while actually doing nothing — except making cheap headlines, by demonizing “fat cat bankers” or “scurrilous CEOs,” which earns a cheap laugh from the press, and maybe even earns votes from the manipulated masses. Is this what the greatest democracy in the history of humankind is reduced to — toxic rhetoric from the left and the right?

In the meantime, thank goodness for the creative power of the private sector.  The solar industry will continue to expand (especially in China, where that government has decided that clean energy is a priority).  And despite the absence of a clear policy, or even any real policy on sustainability, private enterprise, maligned by this administration regularly, will continue to reduce their emissions and lower their energy costs. It is good business, common sense, and competitive advantage to lower your environmental impact.  No wonder our “leaders” in Washington don’t get it.

Timberland has reduced our carbon emissions by almost 40% against our 2006 baseline–lowering costs, making our business more profitable and more sustainable. We are a mid-size business competing in the global economy, and we are doing what our “leaders” say can’t be done — we are being competitive, and we are building sustainability into our business model.

Would a clear government policy on carbon help — the way a minimum wage or CAFE standards help industry? You bet.  But as the Wall Street Journal article demonstrates clearly — if you’re waiting for leadership from the Beltway Denizens on climate change, settle in.  Rhetoric aplenty … leadership, not a whit.

Someone let me know when there’s actual news breaking about principled leadership regarding climate change from this administration … in the meantime, I’ve got a responsible business to run.

Jeff Swartz
President & CEO, Timberland

Share Your Strength for Childhood Hunger

Earthkeeping means caring for our planet … but it also means caring for the people who share it with us.  And leading the pack when it comes to caring for America’s children and their struggle with hunger is Bill Shore, Timberland board member and the founder and executive director of Share our Strength.

Billy was interviewed yesterday on NPR’s program Talk of the Nation, as part of the program’s coverage of the issue of childhood hunger – a critical issue impacting millions of children in the United States, and one President Obama has pledged to end by 2015.  You can listen to the entire program here:


How to help?

  • Support your local food bank in their efforts to get nutritious food to the families in your community that need it.  (Timberland’s front-lawn “Victory Garden” produce is sold to our employees and proceeds go to the NH Food Bank … employees love the fresh veggies and the food bank appreciates the support!)
  • Email your Senators and Representative in support of the Child Nutrition Bill, critical legislation that will further the efforts to end childhood hunger in America.

Save the Date: Timberland Talks Product Labeling

Since 2008, Timberland has hosted quarterly calls with our stakeholders to discuss topics and issues that are key to our efforts to become a more responsible, sustainable business.  Lend your voice to the discussion and share your feedback on our next quarterly call, focused on product labeling:

DATE: Tuesday August 3, 2010

TIME: 12:00 to 1:30 PM EST

SUBJECT: Enabling consumers to make responsible purchasing decisions by providing them with standard, comparable data about the  environmental impacts of the products they buy.

SPEAKERS: Jeff Swartz of Timberland and David Labistour of Mountain Equipment Co-op

Please register for the event by emailing csrinfo@timberland.com.You’ll receive a response within 24 hours that confirms successful registration.

Be sure to sign up by July 29 to receive additional information about the call and call-in details! These materials will be sent by July 30.

Can’t attend?  That’s okay – we’ll be posting the results of this call and continuing the discussion on our stakeholder calls web page.  And if you’re interested in learning more about Timberland’s social and environmental issues, activities and impacts, visit Earthkeeper.com.

Timberland Helps Local Scouts Spring Into Action

On Thursday July 15, Timberland had the privilege of hosting 43 Cub Scouts from the Daniel Webster Council for an afternoon of educational dialogue and arts and crafts. To the Cub Scouts’ surprise and joy, at the end of the day, they were awarded the “Spring into Action” patch:

“Doing well and doing good” was the focus of the opening conversation. It was discussed how we at Timberland believe in the power of people to transform their communities and make a difference in the world – that we ALL have an opportunity to make it better.  It was illustrated how Timberland does just that – from the 40 hours of paid community service per year each employee is encouraged to utilize, to making shoe components from recycled tires and water bottles – which was a jaw-dropping fact, I assure you.  We spoke of silver-rated tanneries and solar and wind powered factories.  We spoke of LED light bulbs and carbon footprints.

The Scouts were asked to think about how this “doing well and doing good” platform translates to their lives.  That the Earth is in need of our help – and every little bit we can do makes a difference. That we all need to be Earthkeepers.

The Scouts also played “TIMBO” – Timberland’s version of Bingo.  Board squares consisted of items that could be recycled.  Prizes were given to the first couple of Scouts with TIMBO – but also rewarded to the child that could guess what all the words had in common.  We also all learned what an aseptic is (the airtight container that is used for sterilized packaging so that freshness is preserved – like with milk or juice – and it’s recyclable).

The next order of business focused on the importance of wildlife conservation.  The Scouts painted birdhouses, and were provided bags of birdseed to fill them with. As some of the Picassos were still finishing up their birdhouses, other Scouts started working on the next project – pet rocks.  The focus here was that there are fun ways to repurpose nature – even something as simple as a rock is transformed when two eyes are applied.

Lastly, we made God’s-Eyes.  The relevance here was a nostalgic one.   Not to date myself…but don’t we all remember making these when we were a child?  Life wasn’t so complicated back then – heck, email didn’t even exist!  The point was that they are just as much fun to make today as they were back then.   The Scouts were amazed that it was so easy to make something so beautiful.  (An added bonus — anyone who knows 29 year Timberland veteran George Belanger would have paid money to see him making one.)

After a little snack, we circled up and awarded the Cub Scouts their “Spring Into Action” patches.  I thought it quite fitting that there were lug prints on the patch – to remind the Scouts of their time at Timberland – and to reinforce that we all need to do our part and be the best Earthkeepers we can be.

Timberland volunteers will long remember this day, and we are all thankful that the company has enabled us to have events such as this.  It was all about the kids on Thursday, but planting the seed of environmental consciousness with today’s youth was personally a very rewarding experience, and I believe a very sound investment.

Kati Lynes
Timberland Sales Planning Manager

Turning Trash into Sustainable Treasure

There are plenty of media reports today about the lack of progress in Haiti … and it’s true that 6 months after the country was rocked by a devastating earthquake, there are still too many people suffering and too many critical needs that continue to be unmet.  But there are also many organizations working hard to help Haitians get back on solid ground and, importantly, prepare for the future.

Earthship Biotecture designs and builds self-sufficient houses that:

  • are constructed using natural and recycled materials (such as cans, bottles and tires),
  • heat and cool themselves naturally via solar and thermal dynamics,
  • collect their own power from the sun and wind,
  • harvest their own water from rain

“Earthships” have been built all over the world – and just a few weeks ago, a small team from Earthship Biotecture traveled to Haiti to start a project there.  What started as a reconnaissance mission turned into full-fledged construction, with the following Earthship built in just four days:

The entire building was constructed from garbage found within a mile of the build site; 40 Haitians from the nearby tent city helped to build the earthquake and hurricane-resistant structure, and learned the skills they’ll need to replicate the construction on their own.

The Earthship Biotecture team will return in October to integrate Earthship systems into the structure (water harvesting, solar / wind power, heating and cooling, etc.).

To learn more about the good work Earthship Biotecture is doing, both in Haiti and in other parts for the world, please visit their website.