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Timberland’s Swartz Says Shoe Manufacturers Need Green Standard

Shoe companies have yet to adopt the greenest methods for making, transporting and selling shoes, even though the technologies are readily available, Jeffrey Swartz, the chief executive of Timberland, said in a New York Times interview.

Swartz said the industry will only make environmental progress if companies agree to an industry standard for greenness and use their combined clout to get their suppliers to meet it.

But even though Timberland has taken a proactive approach to green issues, Swartz said he’s reluctant to make the first call to his counterparts: “Our competitors are so much bigger than we are, and that makes me reluctant to place the call.”

He would like to see the industry decide on a plan of action for reducing energy use and emissions in manufacturing, and then approach the major global shoe manufacturers with it. “We need to go as an industry and say, ‘We’ll invest with you to explore greener energy,'” Swartz said.

In addition, Swartz said that the industry hasn’t positioned environmental attributes as aspirational. “The result is that people may think of green shoes as things that they should buy, but not necessarily as things that they want to buy,” Swartz said.

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