Timberland: The Brand Trying to Save the World One Sustainability Practice at a Time

Clothing manufacturers are not known for having responsible manufacturing processes or sustainability practices.  This was more than highlighted in 2013 when over a thousand people died when the Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed in Bangladesh.  Timberland, however, is the exception to the rule.  The company has been taking action against climate change since 2003.

Timberland and Sustainability

Timberland states on its website quite clearly that it is pursuing the noble goal of zero waste.  Where it differs from many brands is that it also posts how well it is doing. 

For example, one goal is to have a ‘95% Diversion Rate’ by 2020.  In 2014 it has achieved 54%.

It is also very self critical and honest about its sustainability practices.  In 2011 the brand hit the headlines for revealing that it had fallen short of its 5-year/50% emissions reduction goal.  Timberland also published an explanation which in did not try to blame someone else.  It was just an honest account of why the target has not been hit. 

Timberland’s High Rigorous Sustainability Standards

In April this year, Timberland unveiled bolder targets that promised to go much further than their endeavours to date.  What catches the eye is how Timberland is trying to incorporate recyclable materials into their product range.  Currently, anywhere form 32-42% of Timberland products are made from recyclable material.  By 2020 the company wants to increase this to 50%. 

They are not stopping there, however, and are currently trying to build in sustainability into their supply chain.  Cotton, for example, is a material that is loaded with sustainability issues.  Around 10% of the world’s pesticides are used to grow cotton, damaging ecospheres, often in poorer countries.  The cost to grow cotton organically is often too high for many corporations. 

Timberland, however, has decided to only use cotton that has signed up to the Better Cotton Initiative, and as much as possible, source cotton from US farms. 

Timberland knows it isn’t perfect, but it is doing its best to create a zero waste sustainable company.  It is also showing other companies how to do it.


Tripple Pundit
The Sustainable Trade Initiative
The Guardian