Posts Tagged ‘green consumerism’

I Heart Enlightened Consumers

How heartening!  A recent survey shows consumer interest in green products and expectations for businesses to protect the environment is on the rise!

Yep, you read right. According to a Green is Universal online survey of 1,647 U.S. adults, more than two-thirds (68%) of those surveyed say it’s worth paying more for a green product or service that is from a brand they trustGreen Is Universal is NBC/Universal’s initiative to raise environmental awareness and create positive change.

The fact that these types of “Green Consumer” surveys are popping up more and more frequently underscores our belief that doing good isn’t purely altruistic but holds real business and shareholder value – and that’s only going to increase if the direction in which these survey results are trending are a true indication.

The survey shot onto my radar yesterday during the L’Oreal Sustainable Intelligence Day in New York City (yes, I was sneaking a peek at my Blackberry). L’Oreal, by the way, is the real deal when it comes to walking the sustainability talk; while I was invited to give a presentation on the challenges and rewards of building a brand committed to sustainability, I’m fairly certain that I left the symposium with considerably more insight than I provided.

Just as I read the email which highlighted Green Is Universal’s study, one of the other speakers was referring to a 2008 study conducted by Deloitte for the Grocery Manufacturers Association. She quoted one of the findings of the study that sounded similar yet different to what I had just read on my Blackberry: “A significant minority of committed and proactive green shoppers are willing to pay more for green products, however the larger potential population of shoppers that lean towards green want price and performance parity for sustainable products because it is not their dominant purchase driver.”

Deloitte conducted a direct study of more than 6,000 people while they were shopping at 11 major retailers. 54% of the shoppers interviewed considered sustainability to be one of their decision making factors in purchasing products, and 95% of the shoppers said they “would buy green.” However, a mere 22% actually did buy a green product during their shopping experience.

Very interesting.  95% intent but only 22% action?

Both studies showcased findings which support the notion that consumers have a desire to purchase green products and that they even possess some degree of willingness to pay more for green.  But what the GMA study showed was there is still a significant amount of consumers who actually aren’t willing to throw down a few more green singles for the sake of being green when they get to the cash register.

So where does that leave us? Well, it’s research — we could slice and dice it a million ways and derive multiple conclusions that take us in as many directions. But let’s not get caught up in that today. Today, let’s celebrate the fact that consumers are enlightened and responsible, that they want environmentally-thoughtful products and are willing to pay for them (and that some are even willing to pay more for them!).

And then after today, there’s tomorrow. Tomorrow, companies like L’Oreal, NBC Universal and Timberland need to soldier on so as to capitalize on the opportunity these consumers are giving us.  Our messaging around our products and practices needs to be truthful and crystal clear and difference making – on many levels. Our product design and development needs to lead, inspire and drive innovations that support our commitment to sustainability.  And companies like L’Oreal, NBC Universal and Timberland need to take this news from Green Is Universal to heart and encourage other for-profit companies to do the same.

Take Back the Tap!

In honor of  the first anniversary of Timberland’s ban on bottled water (give or take a month), we give you the Story of Bottled Water by  Annie Leonard.  Annie is the same woman whose Story of Stuff inspired us to take a critical review of our spending and consumption habits, and she’s done it again with this thought-provoking video on the bottled water industry.  Her explanation of “manufactured demand” (a phenomenon not limited to the bottled water industry, by the way) is reason enough to take 8 viewing minutes out of your day.

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’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

Let’s Talk: How to ‘Mainstream’ the Climate Change Discussion?

Since 2008, Timberland has hosted quarterly calls with a diverse set of stakeholders to support our long-term corporate CSR strategy. This level of transparency and accountability helps Timberland elevate a dialogue on material issues for our industry while providing us critical feedback as we chart our path to become a more sustainable organization.  Won’t you join us for the next quarterly call?

Date:  Thursday April 8, 2010

Time:  12:30 to 2:00 PM EST

Topic:  Discuss the challenges of how to make climate change resonate in a mainstream, retail space and how to scale consumer behavior change.

Timberland’s Jeff Swartz
Gary Hirshberg of Stonyfield Farm

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

Be sure to sign up by April 5 to receive additional information about the call and call-in details! These materials will be sent the week of the call.

The results of this and other calls are posted on our reporting web page. This online stakeholder platform will provide a continuation of the discussion through stakeholder comments and discussion after the call.

Sustainability on the Small Screen

Wood Turner from Climate Counts appeared on the NBC 10 News program in Philadelphia yesterday to promote the good work his organization is doing to help consumers make better-informed ‘green’ choices in spending their money.  We’re honored to have been one of the examples Wood used of companies with a notable commitment to climate change!

View more news videos at:

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.


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

Green Stuff We Love for Dad

In honor of Father’s Day … or for any special Earthkeeping guy in your life … check out these green goods to make the most of his day in the sun:

The TING “sling” is a handwoven hammock  made of reclaimed and repurposed seatbelt webbing that otherwise would wind up in the waste stream.






Our Earthkeepers™ X-Band sandals feature organic canvas in the uppers and recycled rubber in the outsole and midsole.  Burnished nubuck leather comes from a silver-rated tannery (one that has received a silver rating for its reduced energy use, reduced waste and quality water treatment).



Burt’s Bees chemical-free sunscreen provides UVA/UVB protection and helps keep skin hydrated without using chemical sunscreen actives like octinoxate and oxybenzone. Instead, titanium dioxide (a naturally-occurring mineral) creates a micro-fine barrier to reflect the sun’s harmful rays from Dad’s most sensitive spots.





When Father’s Day turns into night, Ikea’s Solig solar-powered lanterns keep the celebration going.  These lights run on solar cells that transform sunlight into electricity, requiring no electrical connections and saving energy. 




Green Stuff We Love for Mother’s Day

Earthkeepers love their moms and Mother Earth … here are a few gift ideas sure to please them both:

With the Sabertec Blade attached to her car’s tailpipe, Mom can cut 12 percent of the vehicle’s carbon emissions – and get six more miles per gallon.


While dish detergent wouldn’t normally top our gift list, Method‘s Smarty Dish tablets smell good (pink grapefruit) and are good for the environment (containing no phosphates or bleach).




Reclaimed glass from old car windshields come back to life in the form of this beautiful multi-purpose bowl from Uncommon Goods (beer and wine glasses, too). 


Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t suggest one of our own 100% organic cotton t-shirts, printed with water-based inks. 




 Have another green gift idea you love?  Share it with us.

Good Green Reading: Big Green Purse

Editor’s note: The following excerpt is from Diane MacEachern’s book, “Big Green Purse: Use Your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World.”  We like the book for its organized information (segemented by categories from personal-care products to appliances and electronics), product/company reviews and easy-to-follow suggestions for greener living … and although it targets women consumers and readers, we found most of the content equally guy-friendly and relevant.

From the moment we get up in the morning until the moment we go to bed, we depend on energy to maintain our busy schedules.  Just flick a switch or push a button.  Alarm clocks and coffeepots buzz to life.  Toasters and TVs feed us body and (occasionally) brain.  Hair dryers and dishwashers whir, computers and Cuisinarts stir.

It’s so easy we probably aren’t even aware that we’re using energy, let alone how it affects the planet.  Take electricity.  Creating kilowatts is the leading cause of industrial air pollution in the United States.  Most of our electricity comes from coal, and it leaves its mark not only on our well-lit households, but also in the smog, soot, acid rain, particulate matter, and other air pollutants that cause asthma and have been linked to increased heart disease among women.  When we shift to power-saving strategies at home, we’re standing up for cleaner air and our right to breathe it.

Abating electricity demand also helps moderate global warming. US households produce 21 percent of the country’s global-warming pollution.  That’s more than the entire heat-trapping output of the United Kingdom, according to Phillips Electronics and Environmental Defense.

Read the rest of this entry »

How Green is Your Orange … and Do You Care?

This week’s New York Times article highlighting Tropicana’s efforts to better understand their carbon footprint has sparked an interesting online discussion — questions about the true value of this kind of undertaking, what’s really in it for the company, whether consumers really care.

In my opinion, consumers today don’t care very much about carbon footprints — because we, the companies that make the goods they’re buying, don’t make it easy for them to care.  As Tropicana’s Brian Lembke stated in the New York Times article, without a meaningful point of reference that consumers can easily understand and use to inform their purchasing decisions, carbon data remains a big “so what?”

It falls on the shoulders of responsible brands to explain the so what – exactly what companies like Tropicana are trying to do in analyzing their carbon footprints and figuring out how best to communicate that information to consumers who a) are most often influenced by price in making their purchase decisions and b) hold a healthy skepticism of corporate America’s “true intentions” – understandable considering what we’re seeing in the news these days.  What we desperately need are more companies willing to take that first step to better understand their carbon footprint, and better collaboration within and across industries to create some level of standardization for how to present this information to consumers.  I know of one such collaborative working group within the Outdoor Industry Association, and imagine there are more.

While it’s true that there are countless variables in determining a carbon footprint, I disagree with the premise that a carbon number is meaningless.  Even in imperfect form, such data can be extremely valuable to organizations trying to understand their own carbon footprint and pinpointing areas of their business that are ripe for environmental improvements (such as packaging, transportation … in Tropicana’s case, growing oranges). 

Clearly we’ve got a lot of work to do to get to the point where consumers can compare carbon labels as proficiently as they currently compare retail prices or nutritional information before making a purchase.  But I fail to see the downside in putting forth the effort: if we have access to information that will better inform consumers about how the decisions they make impact the environment, we should make that information available.  If that same information can help companies better design their products, packaging and processes to reduce their environmental impact as well, all the better.  I applaud Tropicana, their parent company PepsiCo and other like-minded companies for leading the way on what I believe will prove to be a revolutionary movement.

Betsy Blaisdell
Manager of Environmental Stewardship, Timberland