Making shoes with better materials—organic cotton, recycled PET, recycled rubber—is a great step towards reducing our carbon footprint as a business. But at Timberland, that’s exactly what we see it as—a step.
Our main goal as a responsible company is to create “Cradle-to-Cradle” products. But what exactly does that mean? A term created by McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry, cradle-to-cradle means that we’re striving to design, produce and sell products that are made with the smallest possible footprint and never get thrown away. Our shoes will be repairable and eventually, every material in all of our boots, shoes and sandals will—when they’ve reached the end of there useful lives—be able to be recycled.
Timberland’s Design for Disassembly (DFD) shoes are part of our Earthkeepers® line, which represents our best attempt at reducing environmental impacts through good design and pursuing our cradle-to-cradle goal.
Timberland’s DFD boot significantly improves on earlier all-leather Earthkeepers® boots by using fewer materials and more recycled content. In fact, comparing these boots with the same number of original Earthkeepers® boots, we save approximately 500 metric tons of carbon emissions. This reduction represents the same amount of energy and heating we use during a three-month time period at our global headquarters in New Hampshire.
For a sample size run of 40,000 boots, the original Earthkeepers® boots used about six metric tons of recycled content, whereas the second-generation DFD boot incorporates almost 12 metric tons of recycled or renewable material.
Our DFD boot has the potential to be recycled to a much greater degree than other footwear, based on its design, keeping even more materials out of landfills. And if the boots are returned to Timberland, we estimate being able to recycle at least 50% of the materials in our own factory in the Dominican Republic.
While we’re not where we want to be yet, every season our designers and value chain team get closer, discovering and developing new ways to design and build footwear in better, more sustainable ways.
One of the best parts is that consumers are on board. Earthkeepers® products have become a big part of our growth strategy, and consumers are buying responsible products, which is contributing to Timberland’s bottom line results.
This makes it that much easier for us to continue down this path. Every purchase is a vote by the consumers that says they want greener products. Our goal is to give them the most environmentally conscious products possible.