Key Takeaway: For today’s Product Feature, I build on a previous review written four years ago and, this time, focus on the Timberland Yellow Boot’s being a socially responsible choice notwithstanding its comfort and looks that I wrote about previously. Timberland is known for incorporating environmentalism and sustainability into their business raison d’être, and is well on the way to become a practitioner of Conscious Capitalism.
It’s amazing how much can change in four years, especially if you were a teenager throughout at least some of those four years. Perspectives can change a lot, and what you hitherto thought was “good” enough turns out not to be so much after all. That’s why, for today’s feature, I decided to “build on” a review I wrote way back, as I realized it hadn’t fully encapsulated all my feelings for the product. And what a product it is – it’s one of my favorite things of all time: the Timberland Yellow Boot.
In what is now my “first part” of the review (originally posted to Zappos), I wrote mostly about the comfort and style of the Timberland Premium 6″ Waterproof Boot, whose most famous color is memorialized in the nickname granted this SKU, the “Yellow Boot”. For the Yellow Boot is not lacking in either – although I should admit Dr. Martens markets itself more, and correspondingly proves itself, to be comfort-oriented – especially in its style. It is so classic, yet timeless and always eye-catching.
But comfort and style can apply to almost any other shoe out there. The difference, and the reason why I advocate Timberland, lies in what happens before and after you buy a pair of boots from them.
If you go to Timberland’s Web site, they don’t have a write-up about their “Corporate Social Responsibility”, but simply “Responsibility”. Now, social enterprises and businesses practicing Conscious Capitalism (the latter a holistic business development concept promulgated by Whole Foods Market co-founder John Mackey and Harvard professor Raj Sisodia) don’t have a Corporate Social Responsibility either. Social responsibility is already in the lifeblood of a social enterprise, while a Conscious business already integrates social responsibility as a way of consciously and sincerely taking care of its stakeholders – the environment always being recognized as part of such.
The very name of the brand – Timberland (land full of forests, especially those good for timber) – already seeks to say something that this company isn’t just another outdoors company, but that it’s actually seeking to make a positive difference. They incorporate environmental technologies, such as renewable energy, in their business model; and make it a prime goal to reduce their carbon footprint, which they also encourage their customers to do as written on their (recyclable) shoeboxes. In fact, in November 2012, they were recognized as Corporate Citizen of the Year at the New England Clean Energy Council’s 5th Annual Green Tie Gala – the only non-energy company that got an award.
Even outside their Earthkeepers line, which mainly uses upcycled materials, Timberland has made an effort to practice sustainability and responsibility. The Yellow Boot features PrimaLoft ECO insulation, which is at least 50% PET, the rest being synthetic fibers. Its premium leather uppers come from Silver- or higher-rated tanneries, audits of which are performed by third-party environmental organizations (criteria being related to energy use, waste production, and water treatment). This shows that they are able to successfully integrate superior product quality with conscious business practices – and, remember, leather is a by-product of already-slaughtered animals; cattle are not slaughtered merely for leather’s sake.
The comfort, style, and responsibility of the Yellow Boot is also joined by its extreme functionality. Originally conceived as work boots for the working men in New England, what stood Timberland apart from its contemporaries was – and is – their leather boots’ waterproofing, which is twofold: by waterproofing the leather itself, and by constructing the boot that they are both durable and sealed from the elements via direct-attach, seam-sealed construction. Furthermore, recognizing that its wearers would be on their feet all day, Timberland has thoughtfully incorporated anti-fatigue technology, regulating the shock pressure applied on the feet to ensure comfort.
Because of this, I turn to Timberland as my go-to boot when I’m outdoors (I turn to Docs more for the urban setting), although as I don’t go out of town often, I mostly use them in the city too. Besides being stylish, my feet can rest – literally – in the knowledge that they are housed in a shoe that is very tough and keeps them from being wet, especially from the frequent torrential downpours that plague the Philippines towards the latter part of the year. I have no problem walking in the rain or in muddy areas with these boots on, and I do anticipate that if I go hiking or trekking, I’d bring these bad boys with me.
Although I first came across Timberland boots for their style, my trust in them has been reinforced with their sustainability and responsibility practices, and with their purpose of sustainable development – producing high-quality shoes and clothes for their customers while doing so in a way that maintains and even benefits the environment – I think Timberland is well on its way to the hall of fame of conscious capitalism. Of course, no company is perfect – but Timberland tries, and shows results.