Pour Some Raw Cane Sugar On Me: Timberland’s New GreenStride FW21 Collection Fashionably Tackles Sustainability
Sustainable fashion for hiking the hills or concrete jungle is a truly magical move
The ‘90s are back and so is going off-the-grid, so it makes sense that Timberland boots are making a statement. Cue the Mos Def!
Last night, Timberland took over the abandoned Bowery station at Kenmare for an immersive art showcase of their new FW21 GreenStride collection out this October, featuring the new GreenStride™ Solar Ridge Waterproof Hikers,GreenStride™ TBL® Originals Ultra Waterproof Boots andGreenStride™ Edge 6-Inch Waterproof Boots for men; and GreenStride™ Ray City 6-Inch Waterproof Boots (my personal favorite) and GreenStride™ Edge 6-Inch Waterproof Boots for women.
I know what you’re thinking. WTF does this have to do with food, travel, witches, and/or cannabis when events like Hall of Flowers are going on, Meow Wolf opens, and so many other things to talk about beyond a few pairs of shoes? Nothing. And everything. (Though, we did hit some flower from Massachusetts’ Nature’s Remedy and a Vessel vape before sashaying into the event—the sleekest and smoothest vapor pen battery I’ve tried in ages).
What’s particularly noteworthy about these shoes is that they’re made with 75% natural cane sugar, recycled plastic, and responsibly sourced rubber on footbeds made of 70% bio-based material. To me, that’s magical weed witchery and something everyone should be doing.
After all, you can’t be someone who worships nature without caring about the larger global impact of our industries on the planet. You rarely see such levels of commitment in the releases I receive about fashion, so I often barely bother because, really, who needs to know about another $15,000 Panerai watch no one can afford?
Considering how much waste is generated by the fashion market with 90% of shoes still end up in landfill where they’ll sit for over 1,000 years, this is a huge win for the industry to tackle sustainability issues head-on from a form-meets-function perspective.
Most fast fashion continues to be made in sweatshops that continues the cycle of poverty, and the fashion industry continues to be responsible for at least 10% of the global carbon emissions—more than international flights and maritime shipping combined, according to statistics published by the UNEP and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Here are some more;
Every year the fashion industry uses 93 billion cubic meters of water — enough to meet the consumption needs of five million people.
Around 20 % of wastewater worldwide comes from fabric dyeing and treatment.
Of the total fiber input used for clothing, 87 % is incinerated or disposed of in a landfill.
The fashion industry is responsible for 10 % of annual global carbon emissions, more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. At this pace, the fashion industry’s greenhouse gas emissions will surge more than 50% by 2030.
If demographic and lifestyle patterns continue as they are now, global consumption of apparel will rise from 62 million metric tons in 2019 to 102 million tons in 10 years.
Every year a half a million tons of plastic microfibers are dumped into the ocean, the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles. The danger? Microfibers cannot be extracted from the water and they can spread throughout the food chain.
Companies like Traid in the UK have addressed these issues head-on, but textiles can often prove challenging to recycling.
Recycling companies sort rejected donations by style, climate, cultural suitability and quality. Once sorted, items are packed into bales, usually weighing 40–50kg, and are shipped out across Europe, Africa and Asia. It is a market that fluctuates with geopolitics: Ukraine, for example, was a key destination for secondhand exports until the conflict with Russia.
Once they have arrived, bales of clothes or shoes are sold wholesale to warehouses, who sell them on to local sellers. They typically break the bales down into smaller packages weighing 5–10kg, which are sold to stallholders in markets and villages. At the Owino market in Kampala, Uganda, one of the largest secondhand clothing hubs in Africa, there are so many stalls that local safari companies offer visitor tours. The contents of each bundle is a lottery: sometimes a market trader will earn enough money to cover rent and food for the month; sometimes they make nothing.
This deluge of secondhand clothing has been partly blamed for the collapse of East Africa’s own clothing and shoe factories, which thrived until the 1980s. The leaders of the East African Community (EAC) decided to take action, announcing that they would ban used clothing imports in 2019; but the US government, at the behest of angry recycled clothing exporters, argued that the ban violated previous trade agreements. Some countries in the group, including Kenya, backed away from the ban, so the export of unwanted shoes from the US continues. Rwanda, however, held strong and raised tariffs on used US clothing and footwear. They were suspended from the African Growth and Opportunity Act trade agreement as a result.
While mixing materials creates a hurdle when it comes to recycling, mixing colours adds similar difficulties, and using metal as shanks or decorative studs is a calamity, because it is so difficult to shred. “The way shoes are designed and manufactured at the moment doesn’t take into account their end of life,” says Shahin Rahimifard, professor of sustainable engineering at Loughborough University. “The inclusion of metal components makes recycling much more difficult. We are calling for a ban on the use of metal.” Some of the problems brands are creating are deeply worrying. Put a slice of ethylene vinyl acetate, used in the shock-absorbent midsole often found in trainers, into landfill and it will still be there in 1,000 years.
Sustainable, responsibly sourced materials with a fashionable slant? Count me in. As someone with City Girl feet firmly itching to do some weekend hiking, I was definitely romanced by the Ray City line featuring Timberland’s iconic waterproof work boot style with a platform for shorties like me. Glowing reviews for lightweight wear with comfort, durability and style mean these are investment shoes worth holding onto rather than tossing—but have a stronger chance of being recycled.
Beyond the opportunity to see the MTA transformed into a subterranean gallery (complete with spooky haunted house vibes for Weed Witching season), the campaign tapped global changemakers Chinese-American multimedia journalist and “climate optimist” Sophia Li, co-host of the new show, All of the Above; Jon Gray, Cofounder of the creative and culinary collective Ghetto Gastro working at the intersection of food, culture, and The Bronx; Flock Together, a London-based POC birdwatching collective; Rickey Y Kim (aka RYK), a Los Angeles-based creative who aims to evoke the heart of things to discover the “why”; and artist/designer Olivia Rose who describes herself as a Botanical Sculptor—responsible for a stunning Timberland sculpture made of succulents.
Here’s a look at the new collection.
Timberland’s new GreenStride collection will be available at Timberland specialty stores, wholesale accounts and timberland.com beginning today with the launch of the GreenStride Solar Ridge, followed by the other styles in October. For more information about Timberland’s commitment to make products responsibly, protect the outdoors, and strengthen communities around the world, visit the brand’s responsibility site.
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