Posts within ‘Rantings of Responsible Bootmakers’

Update From the Amazon

So when 65,000 new friends introduce themselves to your e-mailbox in a week, endlessly resending a form letter written by Greenpeace accusing your company of being part of the deforestation of the precious ecosystem called the Amazon rainforest, what would you do?

To understand Greenpeace’s assertion that our business practice directly leads to deforestation in the Amazon, you’ve first got to know that it is cattle ranching that is causing the deforestation — ranchers cutting down the forest in order to allow livestock to graze. That livestock is raised primarily for tailgate hotdogs or your mom’s meatloaf recipe — not for leather.  Leather is a co-product of beef which accounts for less than 10% of what a farmer gets paid for his cow.  The hides that result from raising cattle for food become the raw materials which Timberland’s suppliers turn into leather for our footwear.  Further facts — we source about 7% of the leather for our products from Brazil — obviously, a small percentage of our overall need.  And finally, in our industry, best practice for diligent brands that focus on the social/civic aspects of their value chain audit and manage processes and materials back to the tannery — but not all the way back to the cattle production process.  To accurately assess our role in the issue requires working backward up the supply chain, through the tannery who is our supplier, to another company, the beef processor in Brazil, in order to know where the cows grazed.

Given that we don’t have “trace-ability” in the value chain back to the cow grazing in the field, it would have been infinitely easier, when Greenpeace first brought the issue to our mailbox, to simply stop doing business with our Brazilian supplier.  No more leather from Brazil, no more issues with tracing hides which may have come from cows grazing in deforested areas of the Amazon rainforest.  We’re only talking about 7% of our production — so cut and run, right?

Tempting, but not the right thing to do. Disengaging would have solved OUR problem — no more headaches or emails from angry activists — but would do nothing to solve the problem of deforestation.  Even as we fumed at the way Greenpeace had approached this issue we asked ourselves, what is the responsible thing to do?  Do we walk away and let the beef processors sort this out with Greenpeace, or do we risk further ire, by staying in the conversation and engaging the leather tanner and the beef processor to solve the real environmental challenge?  What would you choose to do?

We decided to stay engaged.  We pressed our Brazilian leather supplier, Bertin, for a plan that would answer the challenge posed — demonstrate that the cattle grazing in the field were not contributing to deforestation.  Find a way to ensure trace-ability back into the value chain — now.  For a brand with only the leverage of our small percentage of overall Brazilian leather purchases, we tried.  And to Bertin’s credit — they have engaged with us to the same end.

Three months later, real progress to report. Bertin has made great strides in its commitment to supporting the deforestation moratorium, including meeting face-to-face with both Timberland and Greenpeace to better understand the problem and discuss proposed improvements.  Last month Bertin publicly announced their official Amazon cattle moratorium (meaning they will no longer source cattle from protected areas of the Amazon) and is working aggressively to meet traceability targets to ensure the origin of all the cattle they source is acceptable and not contributing to Amazon deforestation.

Prodded by Greenpeace, and encouraged by Bertin’s willingness to make real change, we have bent our efforts to address the issue of Amazon deforestation on an industry level, working with other members of the Leather Working Group (LWG) – a multi-stakeholder group which seeks to promote sustainable environmental business practices within the footwear leather industry.  The LWG recently proposed creating an HWG (Hide Working Group) [I’m not making these acronyms up!]  to create an assessment process specific to hide traceability – similar to the process the LWG uses to work with tanneries on environmental issues within the tanneries themselves.  Bertin has indicated that they will engage in the HWG, as will other tanneries and many brands, including some of our arch competitors like Nike and Adidas.

It’s easy to provide a neat summary of progress against a complex issue in a few short paragraphs; the work behind the words has been much more challenging, demanding tons of time, effort and resources — from the CEO and a whole group of activists within the company. For its part, Greenpeace has done an outstanding job gathering data, creating a complete and compelling case for the issue, and mobilizing its tens of thousands of supporters to call for action from brands like ours on an issue they care about.  Their effort has driven change into the system.  We applaud their activism, even as we wish next time—and there will be a next time, in the complex global value chain — they would seek to engage brands like ours before they pull the “let’s confront ‘em” lever.

As for our supplier, Bertin – now one of the world’s leading producers and exporters of animal products – to implement concrete changes in its own policies and processes in such short order is nothing less than impressive.  We’re proud to partner with an organization that views environmental responsibility as critically and urgently as we do.

Business can be a force for positive environmental change … collaboration yields more powerful outcomes than the effort of one … learnings reinforced by our experience to date on the Amazon deforestation issue.  We’re not closing the book on this topic yet – we’ll continue to monitor progress through regular reports from Bertin and through our work with the LWG and HWG, and we’ll continue to share milestones and challenges with you here on Earthkeepers.

CEO thanks Greenpeace for full frontal email assault?  Next thing you know, world leaders will actually come up with a meaningful global agreement at Copenhagen…

Jeff Swartz
President & CEO, Timberland

Our Newest Earthkeeper Hero: Wyclef Jean

If a tree grows in the forest but no one is there to see it … do you still get credit for planting it?

Not according to Timberland’s board of directors, who for a long time have provided the not-so-gentle feedback that everything we do to make the world a better place matters very little if our consumers don’t know we’re doing it.  They’re not advising that we stop acting as a responsible corporate citizen, mind you – just that we need to work harder to connect our civic values with our business goals.  Fair enough feedback, which encouraged us to seek meaningful partnerships with credible voices to help tell our corporate responsibility story in a way that resonates with consumers.

Fast-forward to today, when we’re thrilled to announce a creative collaboration between Timberland and Wyclef Jean – a social entrepreneur, a humanitarian and an Earthkeeper Hero of the highest degree who has invested incredible time and effort in rebuilding and reforesting his native Haiti.  Wyclef also happens to be a Grammy Award-winning musician with fans and followers all over the world – the kind of “voice” that adds considerable volume to our story — but our collaboration runs deeper and richer than some rent-a-celebrity endorsement deal.  We’ve spent a good deal of time over the past year getting to know Wyclef and learning more about his passion for social and environmental justice — and sharing our beliefs and values with him — and we’ve come to the mutual realization that we’ve got the ingredients here for something that could be pretty powerful, and pretty good.

Central to this partnership is our shared interest in reforestation; Timberland is involved in tree-planting programs all over the world, and working with Wyclef’s Yele Haiti Foundation, we’re going to build a tree nursery in Gonaives, a city in northern Haiti devastated by Hurricane Hannah in 2008.  Once up and running, the nursery will be managed by local farmers and trees will be sold (generating revenue with which to buy more trees) or used to reforest the hillsides surrounding the city.

As for telling the story in a powerful way to consumers, we’re going to start with what we know best: building boots.  Beginning next month, consumers will be able to purchase products from Timberland’s Yele Haiti footwear collection – made from recycled and organic materials and featuring design elements we collaborated on with Wyclef himself.  For every pair sold, $2 will be donated to Wyclef’s Yele Haiti Foundation to support the reforestation efforts.  I’m psyched about the collection; it’s a perfect proof point to a conversation we’ve been having for some time with consumers about the fact that you don’t have to compromise – you can buy a pair of good-looking shoes with a good fit at the right price and also help save the world.  The Yele Haiti footwear will allow consumers to do just that.

There are lots of other good ideas wrapped into our partnership with Wyclef – t-shirts designed by Haitian art students that we’ll sell (with a portion of the proceeds going to Yele Haiti); exclusive Wyclef music downloads on our website; other tree-planting events in the US and Europe.  Our hope is that cumulatively, all of these activities will raise our voice on the importance of community building and environmental stewardship, in Haiti as well as the rest of the world … and that by incorporating all these diverse elements – a boot, a shirt, a new music single, a tree-planting event – everyone who comes into contact with the Timberland / Wyclef Jean collaboration will find something to love, something that resonates, something that inspires them to take action with us.

Timberland makes boots, Wyclef makes music – and that wouldn’t change with or without this partnership.  But together we can make money, both for our businesses and for people and communities in need.  And we can make a difference.  This — the intersection of commerce and justice, collaborating for sustainable impact – this is Earthkeeping at its best.  We’re happy to share it with you.

Jeff Swartz
President & CEO, Timberland

Remembering

Eight years ago today, this was a different world.  Instead of a grey day in New Hampshire, it was a bright blue morning in New York City.  We were in mid-town, a group of Timberland execs, some of our customers, and a few business partners, finishing up a sales meeting. All about selling boots.  To conclude the conference, we had scheduled a day of community service.  Yeah, I know, golf is the usual corporate thing–but a) I suck at golf, b) golf courses are environmentally unfriendly, and c) we actually believe that part of running a for-profit business is being actively invested in the communities you work and live in.  So eight years ago today we were in New York, heading off to service.

Early this morning I was re-reading the note that I wrote at the end of that day.  After a day in which our world changed forever, the same group of Timberland folks were on a bus we bought (it’s a long story, but it was hard to get out of New York City that night), flying along some parkway in Connecticut, silent and sad.  Below is part of what I wrote to our global community as a small group of us rumbled home toward our families:

As we stood on 5th Avenue this morning, and saw the flames and smoke from the World Trade Center, as we waited to board buses to take us from the safety and security and comfort of midtown Manhattan to the one of the bleakest neighborhoods in urban America—as we stood there, our hearts melted.  And our fears multiplied.  And our hearts raced.

But we went, from midtown to the Bronx.  And by the time the ride was over, the news was clearer, and the emerging clarity did just the opposite of what it usually does—instead of feeling more confident as we knew more, we felt less comfort, more nausea.

When we got off the buses, I told everyone what we knew, and asked the 125 men and women assembled what was in their hearts.  Should we stay, and do the planned day of service at the Clara Barton School in the Bronx, or should we try to find a way out of New York, away from the horror and the fear?  And in small quiet groups of people, the decision was made, to stay, and to serve.

And so a small group of people, on a small concrete patch in the Bronx, responded to hatred with love today.  They met anger with kindness.  They exacted revenge—but the revenge of sweat in good purpose, rather than the revenge of blood spilled in rage.  While we called our families, and consoled each other, and reeled at the news, we stood together, and we served together.  We showed a group of children that there are competing models for how the adult world can work.  There is the model of destruction, and hatred, and despair, and by contrast, there is the model of creation, and community and even congregation—different people, committed to the common goal and good. (Clara Barton’s) Principal Parker told us that he would always remember today for the evil that was done, and he would never forget today for the goodness that was wrought.

Our hearts grieve with all who have lost, and our prayers, from our different traditions and faiths and personal points of view are united in gratitude to those brave men and women who struggle to protect us, and care for the hurt, and rescue the injured.   May all who are grieved be comforted.  May each and every broken body and heart and mind be mended, completely and speedily.  And may each of us find within ourselves the strength to affirm what is expected of us—to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly, with our God and with our fellows.

Eight years ago, we promised the kids at that school that we would return and serve with them, every 9.11 until every one of them had graduated from the school.  Eight years ago we promised…and today, we showed up, again.  Even though none of the kids in the school today were Clara Barton students that first 9.11; all of those students have grown up and moved on.

Funny; the kids have moved on, but we can’t.  So, we keep going back.  For the same reason we stayed that first day; each of us had his/her reason, but together we needed to stay.

In these days, riven with fear, characterized by polarity….what’s a bootmaker, or a bricklayer, or a candlestick maker to do? When we’re not sure….we get up from our desks, and we go out into the world, and we serve.  We do what we can to repair the tears and gashes in the civic space around us, and while we are serving…we shore up our own souls, strengthen ourselves for the journey of adult living in a crazy world.

As the song says…love is love, and not….fade away.

We remember.

Jeff Swartz
President & CEO, Timberland

Possibility in the Pumpkin Patch

I know I should be pondering strategy or making another tough CEO choice, but at the moment, it is summer in NH (short season up here) and out my window, the Timberland victory gardens are bursting out of the ground.

About 3 years ago, a group of employees who happen by coincidence to be residents of New Hampshire and citizens, besides being marketing executives or customer service operators, decided to tear up a big patch of the corporate lawn.

They didn’t ask for much; just permission to desecrate the green lawn arranged in best ugly office-park style around the building that we lease as our corporate headquarters.  Things at Timberland work in mysterious ways — I’m not sure who said it was okay to tear up the lawn, but the next thing you know, we’ve got hammered-together raised beds of vegetables arranged in neat array on the lawn next to our day care center.  And during the winter, the beds sit there, forlorn and shivering.  But come summer, if you are at the window early enough, you can see the action flowing.  Seeds being sown.  Citizen servants from sales and finance, puttering about.  And then, boom — vegetables.  There’s a cart in the front where the employee entrance is, where the volunteers hawk the fresh produce — zucchini as long as my arm, Swiss chard by the basket, and just this week the first ripe tomatoes.  Every penny goes to the local food pantry; given all the downsizing and pain in the economy — some of which has rippled in our building — the food pantries are struggling to keep pace.  And so our team tends the raised beds.

I don’t miss the sound of the lawn mowers from the maintenance crew.  I don’t miss the carbon emissions from those engines nor the cost of operating them.  And some mornings, when it is hard to feel okay in this economy and this world, the sight of Timberland folks weeding and harvesting is the strength I need to do my bit to make things work again.

But more than our small example — I wonder.  What would keep victory gardens, run by employee volunteers on company time, from filling food pantry larders all over our office park … all over our state?  How much civic energy could be channeled, painlessly, from civic purpose and corporate pride and joy, just by raising up victory gardens in office parks across the country?  Stop mowing, start growing.  Don’t need the Congress, even the UN can’t mess this up – it doesn’t require mad skills or deep strategy — just a little bit of employee pitch in, and who knows?  During World War II, victory gardens produced 40 percent of the vegetables consumed in America – 40 percent! – and 20 million gardens helped to empower and reward people in a time when they desperately needed it.  America is hungry again — figuratively and physically.  For just a tiny bit of oomph, good for the company, good for the community … stop mowing and start growing.

I’d be hard pressed to find a better view.

Jeff Swartz
President & CEO, Timberland

Water is Way More Complicated Than I Thought

Two weeks ago, I announced here on Earthkeepers a new ban on bottled water at Timberland headquarters buildings globally.  I was psyched about the announcement, even more excited about the action.  You know what I’ve learned over the last 2 weeks?  It’s really exhilarating to want to run a more sustainable business … but to actually do it is really freaking hard.

Get rid of the bottled water – simple ask, right?  How hard could it be?  Little did I know.  First there’s a supply issue to contend with – our facilities team reports a 4-week supply of bottled water already in house and we don’t want to be wasteful, so can we continue to offer it until the supply runs out?  Sure, okay … makes sense.  Then the vending machine folks chime in, what about the plastic soda bottles in the vending machines?  Are we getting rid of those, too?  Wow.  Okay, sure.  No more plastic bottles in the vending machines.  But hold on, says the guy in charge of our dining services – we don’t have nearly enough glasses and cups to accommodate the increased demand from people who would otherwise be drinking bottled water.  We’re gonna have to add more dishwashers, or buy more glasses … yikes.  All I wanted to do was get rid of the bottled water, now I’m buying new dishwashers?  How come it’s never as easy as you think it will be to get something done?

That was the noise from our internal community – but we had a lot of valuable feedback from external folks, too.  Many of you rightfully pointed out that the bottled water debate is a lot more complex than I indicated in my previous post, and that it does in fact serve a good purpose – critical, even – in many areas of the world.  Chief among the arguments we heard:

  1. Tap water isn’t a completely “no cost, no effort” option – it costs money and energy to sufficiently treat public water so that it is safe to drink, and more money and energy to deliver it to people and businesses.
  2. In some instances – in crowded public places, on long trips, when you’re out in the middle of nowhere – it’s not realistic to expect clean, drinkable tap water will be readily available.

All this information made me realize that bottled water is about as hard to understand as it is to get out of our buildings … and also made me glad for the engagement with people who care enough about this issue to share their thoughts (even if their thoughts were, “Jeff you’re being stupid.”).

I have a better appreciation now for when and where bottled water is necessary, and I certainly believe that plastic has its place in the world, for all sorts of good uses.  But I hold on to the notion that in the corporate world, where tap water is clean and reuseable containers are (soon to be) plentiful, we can do better than bottled water.  And so we forge ahead with our plans to give the bottle the boot from our corporate offices, hopefully in the next few weeks.  I’m excited to see idea translate into real impact – however small – despite the few good headaches we endured in the process.

I’m also excited about the real-life Earthkeeping dialogue this project produced; we shared a big idea, you were interested enough to want to talk about it, we came away smarter and more evolved in our thinking.  That’s the power of engagement – bigger, better, smarter outcomes.  I’m appreciative of the effort from those of you who joined in.

I realize getting rid of bottled water doesn’t negate our environmental footprint as a company (if only …), nor does it solve the climate crisis.  But I’m of the mind that taking even one small step in the right direction is better than staying where you are … and that low-hanging fruit is there to be picked.

Now don’t go too far … my To Do list also includes removing all paper products from our headquarters cafeteria, save post-consumer paper napkins.  This could get ugly.

Jeff Swartz
President & CEO, Timberland

Board Dinner Meets Taco Night; Hungry Kids Benefit

Part of the regular governance of a publicly-traded company on the New York Stock Exchange is … board meetings.

Part of the regular cycle of board meetings is … board dinners, usually the night before.

Last night, Timberland’s board met for dinner at Andy Husbands’ restaurant — Tremont 647 in Boston.

$2 tacos are a Tuesday night phenomenon in the South End at Andy’s place — but because of the Hell’s Kitchen show, Tuesday tacos moved to Wednesday night.  Even though I can’t eat it (the kosher kid brings his own delicacies…), I figured the Board would enjoy some local cool cuisine.  So, they started with tacos.

Quickly enough, we ended up with the regular menu.  The Board is cool, but the cuisine was … hot … and so, back to the menu.

Andy came in to say hello.  As a TV star part of Gordon Ramsay‘s Hell’s Kitchen, Andy is a pretty hip celeb these days.

But not for the cuisine, not for the celebrity shoulder rubbing — not for those reasons did I take the Board to Tremont 647.

No, when Timberland’s shareholders pay for the Board’s dinner, they insist that we not just feed our desire for a good mea l– they insist that we use their funds to high purpose, the purpose of commerce and justice. So, when we schedule a business dinner, we host them in a restaurant affiliated with Share Our Strength (SOS) – a national nonprofit organization focused on ending childhood hunger in America.

Share Our Strength restaurants support the effort by donating a portion of their profits to SOS, or participating in one of the organization’s fund-and awareness-raising events … Andy and his team at Tremont 647 do both.  Andy has been actively engaged with SOS for years, and his restaurant has hosted SOS’s Boston Operation Frontline program for more than a decade — providing space and support for more than 5,000 people to receive nutrition education, food budgeting strategies and cooking skills.  In the real world, that kind of teaching is infinitely more valuable than anything Gordon Ramsay could dish out.  Hell’s Kitchen is a clever TV concept, but a high-brow restaurant delighting its clientele and serving to end childhood hunger — this is, Heaven trumps Hell.  Period.

The intersection of commerce and justice lives at Tremont 647.  With equal attention and passion, Andy serves Tibetan Momo Dumplings and serves the needs of children at risk for hunger … and from the comfort of our table, we fill our heads with business talk while helping to fill the bellies of kids who don’t have enough food.  The work of changing the world doesn’t always feel like work; in the right company, in the right atmosphere, it can be downright delicious.

Jeff Swartz
President & CEO, Timberland

Banning the Bottle

So, a town in Australia decided to ban bottled water.  Was all over the Twitter universe, everyone merrily tweeting away to applaud the leadership.

On its face, a pretty cool snippet; a group of concerned citizens, in one small town, deciding “we can, we will, here we go.”  And as a consequence, they eliminate a huge and unnecessary element of modern “convenience,” namely “bottled water.”

On every level, the idea in the developed world of “bottled water” is absurd.  We live in countries, in Europe, Asia and North America with water processing infrastructure that ensures that our taps flow abundant and clean water to us, for no apparent cost and with no effort.  But that is not enough–no, we need 12 oz sports bottles for our lunch boxes at school, and refrigerator cases at work and at the ballpark full of 16 oz bottles.

Huge business, and the range of options is staggering–from socially aware water (see Ethos at Starbucks) to value water (at Wal-Mart).  In the middle, huge businesses at Coke and Pepsi among others, selling us…convenient water.

Never mind the convenience of the tap.

Never mind the convenience of buying, once in your life, a Nalgene bottle, and refilling it as frequently as you would like, for free, from the myriad of taps at your disposal anywhere in the developed world.

No, let’s indulge in bottled water.

Numbers:

  • In dollars, the bottled water business is reported to be anywhere from $50 to $100 billion each year.
  • In bottles, the number of PET water bottles used in the US each year is 50 billion (200 billion worldwide!) — and only 25% of those are recycled!

Come on.

So, the town in Australia says, no more insanity–no more bottled water in town.  Not sure how they will enforce the ban–sheriffs armed with water pistols loaded from the tap, ready to blaze away at the miscreant with the Dasani bottle?  But the Aussies are at least doing something.

I have an idea.  Call it barmy, mate–but as my first order of business in the office today, I’m gonna ban bottled water at Timberland headquarters buildings globally.

I don’t need a referendum, doesn’t matter if Congress doesn’t like it, the UN can spew its noxious vapors in some meaningless debate as per usual–I am the CEO, and if I can’t fix this stupidity–save our employees’ money, cut our waste stream, stop validating the insanity of “business as usual;” if I can’t do this much, then maybe the cynics and the skeptics are right.

Will report back from where the rubber meets the road.  Real change begins not with rhetoric, but action.

Jeff Swartz
President & CEO, Timberland

Mr. Swartz Goes to Washington

Yesterday afternoon, I found myself in an unusual place for a Thursday afternoon–at the White House, in a suit.  Not sure I shouldn’t have dressed in Timberland jeans and boots; would have been a whole lot more comfortable.  The setting was a small group of CEOs–principally, utility and power company execs, big hitters all of them, a total of 7 “business leaders” meeting with heavyweights in the Administration, at their request, to discuss ways to advance climate and clean energy legislation.  No, not joking–power company execs and the Administration, talking cap and trade.  Despite the fact I was wearing a suit, you could tell the difference between the big boys and the bootmakers; their DC lobbying staffs seemed as big as our sales force is–nationally.  But a certain amount of “gee whiz, what are we doing in the room with these big guys” aside, I was proud to be at the table.  For 20 years, we’ve been working at building a business model that says we can earn real profit for shareholders, while living a passion for preserving the place where we and our consumers love to recreate.  Sustainability is the current language–we called it, “running a responsible business that serves the outdoors.”  Call it what you will–it was good to be at the table.  While the numerous and serious utilities represented around the table might have money to lose in this environmental battle, what we have at stake is our entire livelihood.

It was an impressive group and an important opportunity … and served as an interesting case study of the chaos of democracy.  We spent too much time on discussion about The Bill before the House, and how to get it passed, and then how to get it through the Senate.  A fascinating civics lesson, a wild opportunity to see how government really works–I listened to one power exec explain that while they were sure glad to be working to get this bill passed, they wanted to make dead sure the Administration knew that what they wanted in return was the government’s support for new nuclear plants.  Hmn.  Horse trading in a fancy room at the White House.  For what it is worth, while they talked “deal,” and I listened intently, I also spent some time staring at the fancy chandelier.  Full of incandescent light bulbs.  At the White House.  Do we need nuclear plants? Maybe, maybe not–I’m a bootmaker, not a policy maker–but I know with certainty, if the White House would change the light bulbs, and install low flush urinals in the men’s rooms (I visited–antique plumbing, and paper towels to dry your hand!), they would model a more real world kind of leadership.  The very best solution to energy policy is…use less.  Conserve more.  Change the darned light bulbs in the chandelier.  If everyone would do what they can do, then–maybe less horse-trading legislative support for a complicated law that may or may not work, in return for nuclear plants that may or may not be good for the world…

I made no friends with the powerful power folks when I got to speak for a moment; when the political leaders asked what we thought of the legislation, I told the truth–that the law got watered down big time by horse trading, to a 17% reduction in carbon emissions, and now involves giving away a ton of “get out of jail free cards” to the worst polluters.  I pointed out the inconvenient truth–that over the last 2 years, compelled not by policy but by common sense, led not by theory but by a desire to run a more profitable and sustainable business, Timberland has cut our carbon emissions by 27%.  Hmn.  They keep talking, and we keep cutting, saving money, building more sustainable products.  Our approach wasn’t mandated or designed by committee, it was the result of a sound business model coupled with passion for the outdoors and desire to preserve our business.  It’s not nuclear power plant science, it’s just good bootmaking business.

In the end, I went home optimistic sort of, and resolute for sure.  The good news is, the imperfect process of democracy is the greatest form of vibrant political discourse known.  And it works.  We are going to get climate change legislation, which is imperfect as heck but hey–we know that perfect is the enemy of the good, and we also know, you have to be in the game if you want to compete.  So–this law is better than nothing.  And the law is really just a clarion call to say–time to get to work.  We have to make backroom legislative deal-making Washington-born policy consumer relevant.

Imagine.

Consumers /citizens want to do the right thing.  They count on their elected representatives to make good policy, and they expect brands and businesses to play fair and do right.  And then they can live the lives we all want.  And when it comes to climate change, that is what they want–simple and clear ways to buy the goods and services they desire, in a fashion that won’t destroy their planet.  Legislation putting the real price of carbon into the economy is a step in that direction.  But only a step.  Now, brands have to get into the game–to help consumers make the easy and good choices they want and expect.

Bootmaker goes to Washington, learns a lot, leaves with the optimistic sense that the government is trying to do its bit, leaves also with a renewed and reinforced understanding that government is necessary, but not sufficient.

Calling all CEOs.  You can reduce your costs, increase your profits, delight your consumers and your shareholders.  And, help preserve our environment.

Jeff Swartz
President & CEO, Timberland