Timberland: Built Locally and Thinking Globally
By Beth LaMontagne Hall / Fiddlehead Contributing Writer
You can find evidence of Timberland’s commitment to sustainability before you even step foot inside the company headquarters in Stratham. In the parking lot are electric vehicle charging stations and preferred spots for those who carpool or drive energy-efficient cars.
Solar panels and an organic garden are located on the campus, as well. The food produced there is available for sale to employees – the proceeds going to New Hampshire Food Bank and other organizations that assist people facing poverty. Inside, the commitment continues with composting and “centralized waste receptacles” – no one has waste baskets at their desks anymore, only recycling bins.
Established in 1955, the company known for its iconic work boot, has become an enormous outdoor lifestyle brand, selling shoes and apparel around the world, with 7,000 full- and part-time employees and more than 260 retail locations. While Timberland boasts an impressive footprint in the retail and apparel market, it has continually focused on its goal of being the largest, most sustainable outdoor lifestyle brand on Earth.
“At our HQ in Stratham, we have implemented many initiatives over the years to reduce our waste and energy consumption and encourage employees to live more sustainable lifestyles – both at the office and at home,” said Colleen Vien, sustainability director for Timberland.
This includes the company’s commitment to sustainable sourcing of materials. By 2014, 79 percent of Timberland footwear used recycled, organic or renewable materials. Ninety-nine percent of Timberland’s footwear leather is sourced from tanneries earning high marks on key environmental metrics as rated by the Leather Working Group.
Since 2009, Timberland has utilized more than 185 million plastic bottles through the use of recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) in its footwear.
Beyond its environmental initiatives, Timberland sets itself apart with a commitment to local engagement and service. To encourage this engagement, the company’s Path of Service program offers employees up to 40 paid hours each year to volunteer in their communities, opportunities of which employees take advantage. Last year, Stratham’s 415 employees gave 10,582 hours of service, 64 percent participated in a service event at least once and 40 percent of employees used all 40 hours of service.
Employee engagement at Timberland doesn’t just mean volunteering for a day of service, but having the opportunity to select the kinds of organizations with which they will work.
“We invited employees to vote for the pressing community issues they wanted to see addressed through service. With a resounding response, four topics bubbled to the top,” said Vien - food insecurity, veterans’ affairs, addiction/rehabilitation and homelessness. “Most of our projects since then have addressed one of these issues.”
These include projects and donations to Families in Transition, Manchester YWCA, New Hampshire Food Bank, Gather NH, Avesta Housing, Habitat for Humanity, Teen Challenge NH, Honor Flight NE, Manchester Veterans Affairs, Crossroads House and Chase Home for Children.
Celebrating Earth Day this year, Timberland offered employees a series of service events in April and May. During the week of Earth Day, Timberland hosted a number of events at the Stratham headquarters aimed at educating employees and encouraging them to use environmentally conscious behaviors, said Vien. Guest speakers talked about sustainable farming and reforestation and employees visited the Greener Living Fair or enjoyed a sustainable seafood buffet from the One Fish Foundation.
In May, once the ground has thawed, employees will participate in environmental service projects throughout the Seacoast and Manchester area, from working on a home with Habitat for Humanity in Rochester to creating a community garden at Families in Transition in Manchester. All six projects were selected to meet pressing community needs while working to green and grow the community. The company is expecting more than 300 people to participate in these initiatives alone.
“Service is truly at the heart of Timberland culture, and something our employees get quite excited about here at headquarters,” said Vien.