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Steps in the Right Direction: How Timberland Aims to be Net Positive by 2030

In a move the company said is meant to address the environmental impact of the fashion industry, Timberland on Tuesday revealed a goal for its products to have a net positive impact on nature by 2030–giving back more than it takes.

VF-owned Timberland said given its outdoor heritage and longstanding commitment to protect the environment, the brand is turning to nature for inspiration, driving innovation through regenerative agriculture and circular design.

In pursuit of its net positive vision, Timberland has set two specific, measurable goals to achieve by 2030. They are that 100 percent of products be designed for circularity and all natural materials will be sourced from regenerative agriculture.

“The environment today is in a degraded state,” Colleen Vien, director of sustainability for Timberland, said. “As a footwear and apparel brand, we are part of the problem. For decades, Timberland has worked to minimize 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. We are incredibly excited about this journey, and hope to inspire the industry as a whole to work together and change the trajectory of our collective future.”

Through circular product design, Timberland strives to achieve zero waste, working toward zero impact. By sourcing all its virgin natural materials through regenerative agriculture, the brand believes it can push past net zero and have a positive impact on nature.

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On the front end, products will be made using materials such as plastic bottles, and scrap leather and wool that would have otherwise gone to waste. Products will also be designed to be recyclable at “end of life,” so they can be disassembled and made into something new.

In addition, Timberland has set a goal for all natural materials used in its products to be sourced through regenerative agriculture by 2030. The company noted that regenerative practices mimic nature, allowing, for example, animals to roam and graze in their natural patterns, giving the land a chance to rest and heal. They also ensure a variety of crops, replicating the diversity found in nature.

These practices enable the land to pull carbon out of the atmosphere and efficiently store it in the ground, rebuilding the structure of the soil and leading to healthy, hydrated, fertile ground and ultimately, net positive impacts for the land and the farmers.

Timberland is also working to build a robust regenerative leather supply chain in the U.S., Australia and Brazil. The brand recently announced a partnership with the Savory Institute to fund research into the tangible benefits of regenerative agricultural practices. This fall, Timberland launches its first collection of boots made using regenerative leather, with plans to scale up significantly in the coming seasons. This leather was sourced from Thousand Hills Lifetime Grazed regenerative ranches in the U.S. through sourcing partner Other Half Processing.

Beyond leather, Timberland is working with pioneering regenerative farmers to pilot new regenerative rubber, cotton, wool and sugarcane supply chains in pursuit of its 2030 goals.

“In and of itself, nature is balanced–ecosystems work together in perfect harmony,” Vien said. “Modern civilization challenges this state, but as we’ve seen time and again, nature has the innate power to restore and regenerate itself when given the chance, and 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.”

As a founding member of the Leather Working Group (LWG) in 2005, Timberland, which is owned by VF Corp., helped drive the adoption of industrywide environmental best practices at tanneries around the world. Today, Timberland sources almost exclusively from tanneries that achieve a gold or silver rating from the LWG.

Timberland also raised the bar for responsible design when it introduced the original Earthkeepers boot in 2007, made with recycled PET linings and recycled rubber soles. In 2010, the brand followed up with its first foray into circular design with the Earthkeepers 2.0 boot designed to be fully disassembled for recycling at the end of its life. This fall, Timberland reintroduces the Earthkeepers platform as its ultimate expression of eco-innovation.