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Sustainable fashion: What does it actually mean?


Sustainable Fashion: What does it actually mean?


A story of sustainable shoes  

Here at Timberland, we know a thing or two about men’s and women’s boots. Every pair we produce is built to last and designed to impress. Our brand ethos has always been defined by high quality, timeless style and lasting comfort - but these days there’s something more, too. 

We know the environmental impact the fashion industry can be a heavy one. That’s why we’re working towards a greener future - for us, and of course for you. 

What is sustainable fashion? 

Simply put, a sustainable item of clothing is one that sets out to take a minimal toll on the environment. It’s one that contributes to a low-impact lifestyle. One that not only looks good but makes you feel good too. And ultimately, we can all make efforts to make our wardrobes more sustainable.   

It was back in 1953 when our original waterproof boots were first invented. Since then we’ve designed footwear and clothing for millions of people around the world. Over the decades, Timberland has become a byword for durability - which is precisely why we’re moving with the times.  

A truly strong brand is one that’s unafraid to unshackle from the status quo. This is exactly why we’re not just committed to creating better products and a greener world, but beholden to standing as a force for good in the fashion industry. And this is where sustainable footwear comes in. 

These aren’t just empty words. Here at Timberland, we’re working to promote sustainable and ethical fashion in various key ways. 

ReBOTL: giving plastic the boot

Plastic waste is the kind of global problem that can’t be ignored. We all know that. So when solutions come along, it’s best to go at them hard. 

Since 2009, we’ve recycled the equivalent of 345 million plastic bottles and turned them into an eco-friendly fabric lining for our products. We use it to make ethical shoes, boots, jackets, clothes, bags and more.  

If you’re imagining some kind of substandard facsimile of our original range, think again. Our ReBOTL shoes and boots are made with our signature quality craftsmanship. 

Take the ReBOTL version of our classic Timberland 6 inch boots as an example. They’re sturdy, strong and waterproof. They’re tough enough for workwear and stylish enough for streetwear. But best of all, they’re boots that are making a difference.


The ReBOTL fabric has proved so effective, in fact, that we use it in close to 450 of our other products. That’s not all though. Many of our products also include premium Better Leather - which from a sustainable tannery rated Silver for its eco-practices - or responsibly sourced LITE (Low Impact To The Environment) Leather. Where possible, we also use eco-friendly materials such as recycled rubber and organic cotton.

The Second Chance Program: re-use, recycle, re-shoe

What happens to shoes when they’re no longer needed? What becomes of that old pair of trainers under the stairs, or those biker boots gathering dust at the bottom of a cupboard? Too often they get chucked out, even when they’re still usable - and that’s what we’re on a mission to change.

Our Second Chance Program gives new life to discarded footwear - whether they’re Timberland shoes or not. Why? Because one person’s waste materials are another’s much-needed clothing. We first launched this zero-waste initiative as a pilot scheme in Germany in 2016, by asking locals to drop off their gently-used footwear into in-store boxes.

Nine countries and more than 1,700 pairs of shoes later, it’s become a program with a powerful two-footed impact. We’ve re-housed men’s boots, women’s boots and kids’ boots. We’ve given fresh life to deck shoes, Chelsea boots, knee-highs, ankle boots, gym shoes and desert boots. In short, if they’re in good enough condition to be worn, they’re good enough to be given a Second Chance.


Our partner in this process is Soles4Souls, which distributes shoes to those who need it most, creating sustainable jobs by helping hard-working small business owners to sell donated shoes and clothing. It works with people around the world. People like Ginette, in Haiti, who’s using the money to put her son through school.

But it’s not just about helping microenterprises and finding new owners for second-hand shoes. For every kilo of footwear or clothing that we ‘recirculate’, we prevent 3.6 kilos of CO2 from being emitted, saving 6,000 litres of water in the process. And the crux of the whole initiative is something beautifully simple: we’re giving these shoes new value.

Nature Needs Heroes: low-impact lifestyle champions

“It wasn’t always considered cool, but now more people see that it’s good to look after the environment. That’s important because we only have one,” says Mercury Prize-nominated London musician Loyle Carner, an advocate for our Nature Needs Heroes campaign. “Open your eyes. Do things for the people you care about.”

It’s all too easy for fashion brands to pay lip service to sustainability. But we’re serious about it. That’s why we’ve called on real people - real heroes - to join us in making a difference and creating real change.

People like Loyle Carner. People like eco-conscious New York style advocate Dominique Drakeford. People like photojournalist and green activist Amy Aedy. And people like you. 

Our brand may have started with a Timberland boot, but it’s become something much bigger. We care about the world we live in, and we’re not afraid to get our hands dirty in shaping a bolder, brighter future. 

It’s why we’ve made a commitment to planting 50 million trees around the world over the next five years. It’s why we want to be more than just a sustainable shoe brand. And above all, it’s why we want you to be part of the movement too.