Earlier this year, Timberland was included in an “Outdoor Gear Special Report,” published by Ethical Consumer, a group in the UK who defines itself as the “leading alternative consumer organization.” Their gear report reviews and rates more than 60 outdoor companies on their environmental and supply chain policies and provides readers with “best buy” advice based on their research.
The report was critical of a range of companies, including Timberland (who I rated well in my review). According to Timberland, “the Ethical Consumer report includes several inaccuracies and incomplete or outdated information … not to mention ratings based on the opinions and judgements of editorial staff, rather than validated third parties”.
As they note in their response, as”interest in and demand for eco-products increases steadily, so too does the number of lists, awards and entities attempting to qualify such products on their environmental attributes” but that is is not always easy, thorough or impartial. It does highlight the difficulty of really being able to get to the core of a companies commitment (or lack of) on environmental and workplace issues. Clearly, those companies who are serious about reducing impact and ensuring good conditions in their production facilities will make information available, and the best of them will ensure there is third party verification of their claims. In writing her response, Beth Holzman from Timberland mentions the EcoIndex, which is an environmental assessment tool designed to advance sustainability practices within the outdoor industry. The index is a really useful site for anyone interested in the search for greener and more ethical outdoor gear.
You can find Timberland’s response, plus find links to the original report here.