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This Outdoor Brand Just Became the World’s First Climate Neutral Footwear Maker

Icebug, a Swedish outdoor footwear brand, has completed the implementation of the United Nations Climate Neutral Now initiative—making it the first fully climate neutral footwear brand in the world.

Using a strategy that combined proper greenhouse gas reporting, internal emission-reducing programs and the purchase of UN-certified emission reductions (CERs), the company was able to reach climate neutral in February, meaning it has taken measures to reduce C02 emissions to a minimum and compensated for anything remaining by taking additional climate protection measures.

“Climate action is urgent and requires everyone in society to participate. We are glad to see Icebug take a leadership position in pushing the climate agenda within its operations, and by supporting emission reduction projects globally,” said Niclas Svenningsen, manager of global climate action for the UN.  “Through such actions, reduction at home and support for others to reduce further, we can accelerate the movement towards the Paris Agreement goal of a climate neutral global society.”

Icebug said the most difficult part of the project was learning how to successfully measure its greenhouse emissions in order to purchase the correct amount of CERs to account for any errors in its reporting process. Due to its commitment to reaching climate neutral in early 2019, the brand ended up buying 30 percent more than it needed.

Icebug strives to give its consumers “the world’s finest athletic traction footwear” while broadening its environmentally-friendly approach to business.

Icebug CEO, David Ekelund, said the company dove headfirst into becoming climate neutral without necessarily considering the cost, saying “the climate crisis can’t wait for us to become perfect.”

“When we made the decision, we plunged into the unknown. We didn’t know if it would cost 20 cents or 20 euros per shoe, but we felt we had to take action,” Ekelund explained. “Our prior actions towards emission reduction certainly helped speed up the process, but we want other companies to know that becoming climate positive was easier than we thought.”

Icebug says it released 3,637 tons of greenhouse gas between Mar. 1, 2018 and Feb. 28, 2019 and paid for 4,755 tons of C02 reductions on Feb. 21. Prior to that, Icebug began limiting the resources it used in its boots and outdoor footwear uppers to both reduce the impact of its sourcing practices and to employ only the most sustainable materials.

For Fall 2018, Icebug began to source only recycled polyester and implemented more sustainable dyeing techniques that limit water and resource consumption. The brand also says that it strives to use as many Oeko-tex and Bluesign textile materials as possible. For its Fall/Winter ’18 collection, Icebug said its uppers were composed of 97 percent Bluesign-approved textiles.

The brand is also planning an even more sustainable collection for Fall/Winter ’19. In the meantime, Icebug hopes that its example will push others toward a climate neutral future.

“As a society, we still have a lot of work left to do to reduce emissions. Simply offsetting is not a free card to continue business as usual. We want the maximum effect, and that can only be achieved if others follow suit,” Ekelund said. “Now it’s time for companies to step up and take responsibility.”

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