Posts Tagged ‘earthkeeping’

Postcards from California

Timberland Earthkeeper Sandy McDowell sent this short update from her week-long community service sabbatical in West Oakland, CA:

We arrived in California on Saturday and met the rest of our crew.  On Sunday, we did a tour of the California Missions and saw all of the murals that are historic to the area.  We then went to West Oakland and got some history on our project and work for the week ahead.

Today (Monday) was the first day of work.  We weeded and planted in Wildcat Canyon Creek, then moved on to West Oakland and planted bamboo to help with the ecosystem.  Tomorrow we start with City Slicker Farms (a local organization focused on meeting the immediate and basic needs for food security by creating high-yield urban farms and backyard gardens).  Having a awesome experience so far!


Keeping Good Company in California

For the third year in a row, Timberland is proud to join forces with “In Good Company,” a coalition of companies dedicated to volunteerism.  As part of the program, candidates  from each of the companies participate in a week-long community service sabbatical in an area of need, working with local residents and nonprofit organizations to create positive impact where and how it is most needed.

For the first two years, In Good Company volunteers left their footprints and their impact in the city of New Orleans.  This year, sabbatical recipients will convene in the San Francisco neighborhood of West Oakland – a neighborhood that suffers disproportionately from asthma, diabetes, obesity and other environment-related issues.  Over the course of their week-long service experience, volunteers will help to create sustainable food solutions, green neighborhood homes and work on environmental restoration issues to make life a little easier for West Oakland residents.

We’re pleased to introduce the two members of Team Timberland who head out to West Oakland this weekend to begin their week-long service sabbatical and will be sharing their experience with us here on the Earthkeepers blog:

Courtney Baumann lives in Austin, TX and has been a sales manager at Timberland’s retail outlet in San Marcos for over seven years. Her passions include working with plants and playing with her pet turtle. Four years ago, Courtney started a recycling program at her mall, which continues to be a success!

Sandy McDowell is a fifteen year Timberland veteran, currently serving as the assistant manager at the Timberland store in Grove City, PA.  An “empty nester,” Sandy and her husband grow organic food and sell it at a low cost to their local community.

We’ll be hearing more from Courtney and Sandy over the course of their week in West Oakland – stay tuned.

Community Gardening in China

Last fall, discouraged by the plot of abandoned wasteland in front of her apartment in China’s Guangdong Province, Xiao Qing decided to do something about it.  Qing, an employee at Dongguan Zerong Bag Co. Ltd. (a factory Timberland contracts with), cleaned up the plot of land and planted white radish.  While her initial planting didn’t yield great green results, the experience was rewarding and inspirational enough that Qing reclaimed another abandoned lot, and then another.  Over time her “garden” grew to include spinach, lettuce and celery … and her efforts attracted other community members interested in sharing in her land transformation.

What started as a simple, one-plot patch of white radish is now a lush, green community garden enjoyed and maintained by numerous community “farmers” who have fostered a friendship in and around a flourishing vegetable garden.  These farmers watch over each other’s crops, share seeds, and help each other with sowing, weeding, watering and harvesting.

Growing community and veggies at the same time … that’s good Earthkeeping.

Xiao Qing’s community garden

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.

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

Preserving Past and Future

Last month, 25 Earthkeepers from Timberland spent the day preserving landscape and history at the Minute Man National Historical Park in Concord, MA.

The park pays tribute to the opening battle of the American Revolution, and park grounds are preserved in 18th century tradition.  Some of the park’s fields are still actively farmed through the park’s leasing program, but many areas have become overgrown with brush and invasive plants.  In support of the park’s efforts to restore much of its agrarian landscape and evoke colonial times, when most of the land was used for grazing livestock, Timberland volunteers installed fencing and built an animal shelter for cattle and pigs – favorite “attractions” for park visitors.

Our thanks to the folks at the Minute Man Historical Park for their efforts to preserving events from the past, and land for the future.  To learn more about the park, please visit their website.

Up In Smoke

So, how about another CEO blog on the debacle of “health care reform” in the tortured, partisan nation of America?  Nah… I am gainfully employed running our business, so no time to indulge in the practically pornographic vitriol perfuming the civic square from the Left and the Right; I get paid to deliver sustainable results for our shareholders, a mix of financial profit and civic accountability.  Which is why the overwrought, dishonest “debate” about health care pisses me off so much—if the demagogues on both sides bleat less and seek real solutions more, maybe we could deliver health care for citizens in a sensible fashion.

Here’s a simple case in point.

At our company, turns out that health costs spiral most viciously for two populations—the employee who lives a self-indulgent unhealthy lifestyle (the overweight, outta shape exec) and the employees (cigarette smokers) who buy into the load of crap that Phillip Morris sells (like the idea that smelling like an ash tray is sexy).

Hey, this is New Hampshire on the line, so live free or die—but this is also Timberland, Stratham NH 03855, make your own choice about smoking, but not at work.  We’re not paying for poor choices any more in the form of inflated health costs.  Doesn’t take a politician to figure this one out; don’t need tea parties or white wine spritzer parties- No more smoking at Timberland.

In the scheme of what I can do to run my business more competitively, efficiently and responsibly — this is what consultants call low-hanging fruit.  No more “butt-huts,” no more duck-outside-the-back-door-for-a-quick-cigarette leniencies, no more validating unhealthy choices.  No phony cost saving estimates from politicians—the CEO either reduces health costs, or delivers lower profits and bears that accountability more directly than a mid-term election.  So—no more smoking anywhere on Timberland real estate.

Is this mandate going to upset a subset of our population who don’t agree with my logic or my action?  Undoubtedly.  But I am not pursuing overnight polling–as a CEO committed to the notion of responsibility — for my business, for employees, for the environment — I’ll take my lumps on this one.  Talk is cheap and action is hard – and I’m perfectly comfortable and unapologetic about choosing hard in this case.  Call me names, but don’t call me inert.  Our smoking ban takes effect next Monday – not coincidentally, World No Tobacco Day.

And a smoking ban has to be the beginning, not the end, of this effort to force accountability into the health care system.  Why shouldn’t we eliminate unhealthy foods—the over-processed, nutrition hollow “snacks” that big brands shove at consumers globally—from vending machines and corporate cafeterias at TBL?  We’ve already begun beefing up our health and wellness program offerings, including creating real, concrete, financial incentives for employees to live a more healthy lifestyle.  Exercise and eat healthy, and you pay lower employee contributions to our health plan.  Self destruct on snacks and sodas on your sofa while blowing smoke rings—your choice, but expect to pay for those choices in health premiums at work.

Yeah, I can hear the criticisms—I sound angry at the government for so badly managing “health care,” and I sound pretty worked up about individuals at TBL taking more responsibility for the choices in their life that impact the costs of our health programs.  I know that there is a line between advocating and interfering, between respecting personal choices and doing what’s in the best interest of our business.  How close am I to these lines?

Last summer I proudly announced our corporate bottled water ban, and I got lots of love letters from fellow CEOs in the bottled water business, letting me know that my slot on their holiday card list was rescinded.  Tant pis.

So, with no smoking at Timberland, we square the circle—fire and water.  We aren’t hugging trees here—we’re trying to run a sustainable business.  Feedback appreciated.

Jeff Swartz
President & CEO, Timberland

Mangroves in Malaysia

On Earth Day 2010, Timberland employees and partners in Malaysia spent the day planting mangrove trees at the Kuala Selangor Nature Park — an 800 acre park that provides sanctuary for a wide range of flora and fauna, such as the endangered Silvered Leaf Monkey.  The park also acts as an important stopover for migratory birds flying in from as far as Siberia on their way to Australia.

Mangrove planting is one of the most important Earthkeeping activities at the park, as mangroves act as natural flood retention and also serve as a filter to hold sediment along riverbanks, preventing erosion and helping to reduce water pollution.  Mangroves also provide a safe breeding and nursery ground for birds, young fish, seashells, prawns, mud lobster, crabs and other wildlife.

Our thanks to Earthkeeper Michael, an assistant retail manager for Timberland in Malaysia and an expert mangrove planter, for demonstrating the right way to get the job done:


Ready to Serve

Although our team in Egypt got a jump on the rest of us, for most of the Timberland community tomorrow is Serv-a-palooza – our worldwide, annual day of community service.  For the 12th year in a row, Timberland employees across the globe will be working alongside business partners and citizens to create positive, sustainable impact in local communities.

“Impact” can be vague.  Here’s what it means for us, in Serv-a-palooza terms:

  • 3,800 volunteers at 154 projects in more than 24 countries – committing more than 30,0000 hours of community service.
  • Planting trees, building bridges, constructing recreational parks, cleaning trails and gardens, building compost bins, fences and relationships that matter … 
  • Making life a little better and a little brighter for the camps, parks, social service organizations, environmental agencies and other community partners who will benefit from our sweat and labor, time and tools.

We haven’t maintained our 12-year-and-counting commitment to Serv-a-palooza because we love the publicity, or the community gratitude, or a day off from our regular jobs (although those are all nice perks).  We do it because we can, because one day can make a difference, because being part of something good just plain feels good. 

Stay tuned for post-Palooza reports and photos … and to join us for similar service adventures, register for project updates and invitations on

Just Another Manic Monday

Oh, to be a Timberland Earthkeeper.  Our morning schedule today looked something like this:

1. Host Victory Garden “Open House” to share insight and expertise with local area businesses wanting to start their own corporate lawn gardens.

2.  Harvest and weigh (using super-sophisticated methods) whatever looks ripe for the picking (today’s bounty included herbs, flowers, zucchini, cabbage, green peppers and one odd-looking summer squash).

3.  Haul the fresh produce into our lobby where eager employees gladly exchange donations to the NH Food Bank for a bagful of the best veggies around.

Not a bad way to start the work week.  Our thanks to Ann Caron and her Victory Garden committee for allowing us to videotape them Earthkeeping in action.

(And, just to show you that our volunteer gardeners aren’t the only ones working hard today, the end of the video features some of the crew and equipment working to install our new energy-efficient white roof!)

Those of you who couldn’t make the trip to NH for today’s open house, never fear — we’re always happy to talk to anyone interested in our Victory Garden (or help you figure out how to start your own).  Just let us know the best way to reach you and we’ll be in touch.