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Timberland Expands Its Green Product Rating, Embraces 'Eco Index'

Earlier this month, the outdoor products industry unveiled the Eco-Index, a product-footprinting tool aimed at retailers.

Following on the announcement of that effort, one of the companies instrumental to its development further expanded its own in-house green label.

Timberland's Green Index, a three-year-old consumer-facing label that outlines the environmental footprint of 14 percent of the company's footwear, will be available for every pair of Timberland footwear products by the end of 2012. The move will be a stopgap measure until the Eco-Index has achieved wide adoption, and will continue to raise shoppers' awareness of the environmental impacts of the products they buy.

"Individual efforts, like Timberland's Green Index, are good options for now, but to truly empower consumers, we knew we needed a commitment from the entire industry," Betsy Blaisdell, senior manager of environmental stewardship for Timberland, said in a statement. "First mover companies only get so far -- collaboration is integral to achieving a consumer-friendly, industry-wide standard, which is why we applaud the launch of the OIA Eco Index as a positive step in the right direction."

Timberland has long been a leader in environmental issues, launching a green packaging initiative in 2006, as well as the Green Index in 2007.

The Green Index measures three areas of product footprints:

• Climate impact: The greenhouse gas emissions from the raw materials and manufacturing of products;
• Chemicals used: The use of toxic chemicals in manufacturing of products and materials; and
• Materials used: The use of organic, recycled or renewable materials used in products.

The data are compiled to give a product an Index score from 10 to 0, with 10 being a high impact and zero being no impact at all.

For additional takes on the outdoor industry's Eco-Index, read Marc Gunther's "Just How Green Are Your Hiking Boots? Industry Aims to Find Out" and Summer Rayne Oakes' "Behind the Apparel Industry's New Eco Index." All of's news coverage of Timberland is available in our archives.

Photo CC-licensed by markkilner.

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