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2 September 2020

Spotlight On: The Giving Tree

By Global Fashion Agenda

How Timberland is going beyond sustainability to help nature thrive

Giving back more than it takes is not something the fashion industry is known for, particularly when it comes to its environmental impact. 

But this can change—and perhaps even be reversed—according to the outdoor lifestyle brand Timberland, whose newest initiative aims to have a net positive impact on nature by 2030.

Since its inception in 1973, Timberland has strived to create products that encourage people to explore the Great Outdoors. Just as the company takes inspiration from nature, it is also cognizant of the impact its products can have on the very environment that doubles as its muse. 

In pursuit of a greener future, the company’s goal to become net positive by 2030 is comprised of two specific measures: 100% of products to be designed for circularity, and 100% of natural materials to be sourced from regenerative agriculture. 

Follow nature and close the loop

Taking its cue once again from Mother Nature, Timberland asserts that in nature, everything has a use and a reuse, and therefore, nothing goes to waste. In other words, it’s a closed-loop. Through innovative circular product design, the company is convinced that it can achieve net positive by 2030. This is combined with ambitious efforts to create products sourced from materials that would otherwise have been wasted, such as plastic bottles, scrap leather, and scrap wood; while at the same time, create products that can be recycled at “end of life,” so they might be deconstructed and transformed into something new. 

“The environment today is in a degraded state. As a fashion brand, we are part of the problem. For decades Timberland has worked to minimise our impact, but it’s time to do better than that. Imagine a boot that puts more carbon back into the land than was emitted during production. By following nature’s lead, and focusing on circular design and regenerative agriculture, we aim to tip the scales to have a net positive impact—to go beyond sustainability and help nature thrive.”

– Colleen Vien, Director of Sustainability at Timberland

Through its second measure to have 100% of natural materials sourced from regenerative agriculture, Timberland is once again mimicking nature. Just as nature creates a balance in which its various ecosystems work harmoniously in tandem, Timberland views regenerative agriculture as a way to put carbon back into the soil. In other words, give back more than it takes. 

Yes, we can 

This fall, Timberland will launch its first collection of boots made using Regenerative Leather. Beyond leather, the fashion company is collaborating with pioneering regenerative farms to create regenerative cotton, rubber, wool, and sugarcane. Timberland hopes that these new and innovative methods can yield products that can help to restore nature. 

“We’ve seen time and time again that nature has the innate power to restore and regenerate itself when given the chance,” said Vien. “We as humans can act as stewards. That’s our vision for 2030—to get carbon back in the soil where it belongs, and ultimately give back more than we take.”

By pushing to go beyond working within planetary boundaries, Timberland has set the bar high and hopefully, it will galvanise other fashion brands to follow suit.