Issues in Earthkeeping
Even with the best of Earthkeeping intentions, you’re bound to hit a few roadblocks. We know this from first-hand experience, as a large company whose business takes us into many corners of the world. Our value chain runs long and deep: a blessing when it comes time to design and produce quality product at a reasonable price in an acceptable timeframe … less of a blessing when it comes to influencing meaningful environmental change.
For more than 20 years, we’ve been committed to active environmental stewardship, including a long history of combating climate change through partnerships like the Business for Innovative Climate and Energy Policy (BICEP), and taking responsibility for our product supply chain through strong code of conduct and transparency programs. One thing we’ve learned for sure, no matter how good our efforts and intentions, no one company can “go it alone,” and so we’re grateful for the work of NGOs such as Greenpeace who recently surfaced an environmental problem deep within the Brazilian leather supply chain. The issue is deforestation in the Amazon Biome – of particular concern to Timberland, as the deforesting is by farms that may ultimately provide cattle and hides to our leather supply chain. This is not in any way acceptable to us.
For more than 20 years, our approach to supplier relationships has been one of active, mutual engagement – where we discover opportunities to improve the dignity of workers, to conserve precious natural resources, to create profit and sustainable social change. We have an unflinching commitment to work with our value chain to address failures and we seek sustainable change, not short terms gestures, from suppliers with a real commitment to action. When we discover failures – and we do — we work zealously to address the problem. If we don’t find partners willing to make substantive efforts to change, we change partners. We’ve lived these principles consistently through time all over the world, and as a result have seen many positive improvements in human rights and environmental practices in our supply chain.
Our principles apply in the Amazon as they do everywhere else in the world. We’re working closely with our supplier in Brazil to ensure they have an action plan in place that addresses their commitment to an immediate moratorium on deforestation in the Amazon Biome, and of course refraining from sourcing products from indigenous or protected lands or entities that engage in slave labor. This will include implementation of a traceability policy and monitoring to ensure adherence to these principles. We’ll work similarly with all other Brazilian companies that provide leather for our products, including those made by third parties under license from Timberland.
In the spirit of not going it alone, we will also continue our active involvement as a member of the Leather Working Group to address this issue on an industry-wide level – constructive collaboration that we believe is the most effective way to bring about meaningful change and policies.
Roadblocks aren’t all bad, if they cause you to reaffirm your principles and more tightly focus your efforts. More than ever, we believe in this thing we call Earthkeeping … and we’ll keep looking for opportunities and innovations that help us to do it better.