“These boots are made for walkin', and that's just what they'll do, one of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you” – Lyrics from Nancy Sinatra’s song, These Boots Were Made for Walkin’
Yes, that song is timeless, but in case all the reports and headlines have not sunk in, we don’t have a lot of time to curb our collective impact on the plant – including our obsession with footwear, which doing its part to walk all over the planet, and not in a good way.
And by that we mean that the soles of these boots take a big step away from the use of synthetic materials that are contributing to pollution across the planet. According to Timberland, these soles are made with 75 percent combination of sustainably sourced sugar cane and responsibly grown rubber.
“When people think of boot culture, they think of Timberland,” said Drieke Leenknegt, global vice president of marketing for Timberland, in a public statement. “With this campaign, we celebrate our latest boot innovation through highly visual, even artistic creative that inspires ‘Adventurous Doers’ to pull on their GreenStride boots and get outside. To bring it all to life, we’ve given a platform to the game changers of today, who take steps every day to move their communities, and the world, forward.”
Timberland and its competitors share one mounting challenge: They compete within a consumer base that loves the outdoors and at the same time, demand footwear and apparel that can help them conquer mountains, trails and just about everything else in the great outdoors. The problem, however, is that this ongoing love and obsession with the great outdoors means many of these products leave their own impact on the planet. Whether their needs include shoes offering both cushioning and traction, or a waterproof layer to protect hikers from the elements, the reality is that skiers, climbers and cyclists are driving a manufacturing process and supply chain that keep polluting the very outdoors where these items are made.
More consumers are now aware of their effects on the environment, and Timberland along with other outdoor gear companies are responding in kind. The results have included backpacks made out of plant-based materials instead of synthetics; internal programs launched to further circular design; and promoting platforms that encourage customers to buy and sell their used gear online.
And on the social side of sustainability, many of these outdoor apparel companies are finally realizing they’ve been appealing only to white people for the most part; REI, for example, has awakened to the reality that open spaces across the U.S. have long excluded people of color by design, and is striving to right that ship.
Timberland, meanwhile, has built upon its legacy of emphasizing a kinder and more sustainable supply chain, whether that involves more focus on regenerative agriculture or procuring more raw materials, and generating positive social impact, across Haiti.
Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010, and became its Executive Editor in 2018. He's based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas. He's worked and lived in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, and has traveled to over 70 countries. He's an alum of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California.