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Timberland CEO Calls for Green Shoe Labels

Timberland CEO Calls for Green Shoe Labels

Jeffrey B. Swartz, CEO of Timberland, told the New York Times, "Ask people what they know about the human rights or environmental track record of the brand they just bought, and they walk away. People buy on the basis of product attributes, not brand attributes."

September 29, 2007 —

Jeffrey B. Swartz, the chief executive of Timberland, believes that the athletic shoe industry has made strides in combating child labor—but has fallen behind on the environmental front.  In an interview in the New York Times on Sept. 29, 2007, Swartz  casts some of the blame on consumers, who “may think of green shoes as things that they should buy, but not necessarily as thing that they want to buy.”  Swartz believes that more explicit labels with rating on environmental impact might make a difference.

“If we all make the tags bold and colorful, shoppers will notice them.  And if they are on all shoe boxes, it will become automatic for shoppers to compare green tags among brands, just like they compare price and color.

“When that happens, we’ll all be fighting to have the best tag. No car company wants to be known for the worst gas mileage, and no shoe company will want to be known for the least environmental friendly shoes.”

In unusual candor for a chief executive, Swartz admitted that he and other CEOs are not  doing enough to offer more environmental information about products to consumers, and put the blame on himself personally for not calling up other executives to begin the process of change.

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