Brand: Timberland

Timberland Classic Yellow Boot
Timberland’s iconic classic yellow boot.

Website: www.timberland.com

Website with social and environmental policy information: http://responsibility.timberland.com/strategy/policies/

Verdict: Environmentally friendly, Ethical, Recycled Materials, Organic Cotton, High Quality, Made in America

Timberland is a leader in creating ethical and eco-friendly boots, shoes, socks, and active outerwear. They use recycled plastics and natural materials in their boots, and make efforts towards supply chain transparency on their website.

Transparency: Fairly Transparent.

What They Are Doing Great: 

  • They make efforts to use recycled plastics in their footwear instead of virgin plastics, recycling millions and millions of plastic bottles each year.
  • Some items are made from organic materials, such as organic cotton, and they have set goals to increase the percentage of their clothing that is made from organic cotton each year.
  • They make and track goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pollution including:
    • They have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 50% since 2006, as of 2015 (on Timberland owned and operated facilities only, this does not include suppliers).
    • They aim to use 30% renewable energy in their owned facilities by 2015.
    • Reducing the amount of volatile solvent-based adhesives used in their footwear production by researching water-based adhesives.
    • Phasing out use of PVC in products.
    • Are attempting to have Tier 1 Supply factories (factories that supply directly to Timberland, not the factories that supply to the Tier 1 suppliers) meeting level two (of three levels) of the Global Social Compliance Program, which means the factories have set environmental goals and are working towards improvements.
  • Packaging is made from recycled materials and water based inks.
  • They give employees paid time off for volunteering.
  • They support tree-planting initiatives in countries like Haiti, which need reforestation.
  • They ensure fair treatment of animals that supply their products by:
    • Not sourcing wool from Australian sheep, and requiring non-mulesing certification to accept wool from New Zealand.
    • Sourcing leather hides from cattle that are raised for food and banning hides from countries or regions where they have learned of animal husbandry concerns.
    • Their down is certified by the International Down and Feather Laboratory and they are working to implement the Responsible Down Standard to ensure they are not sourcing down from animals that are plucked while living.
  • Although they don’t use low impact dyes, the CHEM-IQ Program has the goal to remove the worst 10% of chemicals used in manufacturing each year, and has been implemented in factories across Turkey, Mexico, L.A., and China.
  • They prohibit purchasing cotton from Uzbekistan, and are collaborating with other industry partners to participate in the Better Cotton Initiative and will begin reporting on their use of more responsibly sourced cotton in 2016.

Room for Improvement: 

  • More products could feature natural, eco friendly materials like organic cotton.
  • They developed and discuss their Green Index Rating System on their website, and it measures environmental impact and assigns a score for each product, but none of the product pages share this rating openly with consumers.
  • The portion of the website regarding environment and safety is in some places not updated since 2012.
  • Tier 2 Supply factories and their suppliers should also be monitoring and striving to achieve Level 2 of the Global Social Compliance Program and should be tracked for Greenhouse Gas Emissions, as the Timberland owned facilities are. (Potentially this is happening but not addressed on their website)
  • See also the unanswered questions, below. These questions are about topics not covered in the literature on the Timberland website, but which are important in determining the ethics and sustainability of a company.

Unanswered Questions: 

Emailed Dec 27 2015 to ask some questions and they replied Jan 20 2016 with great and comprehensive answers which have been reflected in the information above.

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