We, at etnies & Sole Tech, are celebrating Earth Day with the announcement of a project already years in the making; etnies is committed, and well on its way, to becoming the action sports industry's first carbon neutral company!
Whether or not you get what that means, you're probably familiar with the concept of carbon dioxide emissions and their devastating effect on global warming. The idea of carbon neutrality is to offset ALL emissions in various ways, so that the total is a big, fat, neutral zero. Makes sense, right? Being the realists that we are, we know it's much easier said than done... so what have we done so far? One major step we've taken is the completion of our first corporate eco-audit to measure the company’s overall carbon footprint.
“Corporate responsibility and environmental conservation have been at the forefront of our philosophy for many years and our commitment to making an impact on the consumer, the industry, and the planet is stronger than ever,” said Pierre Andre Senizergues, CEO and founder of Sole Technology. “As we release the results of our first eco-audit, we look to our team, our customers, and our partners in the action sports world to help us become a carbon neutral company that will pave the way for a greener future.”
Led by the company’s environmental affairs manager, Roian Atwood, the eco-audit examined the organization’s activities over the course of more than seven years, focusing predominantly on its carbon emissions, waste and consumption, and water usage. In addition to this detailed study, etnies has executed the installation of 616 solar panels, the conversion to water-based cement manufacturing, corporate wide-recycling efforts, and the creation of a seasonal sustainable footwear and apparel collection, the etnies SEED Project.
“We are confident that the future looks bright for eco-conscious corporations, and we strive to be a leader in the field every day,” said Atwood. “By sharing our findings and making a conscious effort to use the results to alter our business practices and impact on the environment, we hope to play a key role in changing today’s corporate culture for a stronger tomorrow.”
The Sole Technology eco-audit found that in 2007, the company generated 40,000 tons of CO2, equivalent to volume of 2.5 billion shoe boxes 58 percent of which came from footwear manufacturing and the emissions released in the development process through the use of coal-burning sources and electricity. Another 18 percent of its carbon emissions are attributed to the making of the brand’s cardboard boxes, and 8 percent is related to logistics and shipping.
In terms of waste and consumption, Sole Technology found that of the 72,000 pounds of internal trash it consumed, the company recycled 57 percent, exceeding the country’s national average of 30 percent, and California’s average of 50 percent. By 2010, Sole Technology’s goal is to recycle 70 percent of their waste with assistance from the Blue Bin Brigade, an internal committee of department executives whose goal it is to increase awareness and find environmentally-friendly means of conducting business.
“Given the harsh abuse on a skateboarder’s shoes, our industry is constantly challenged with the issue of consumption, which is why we strive to make the most durable, quality products in the market,” said Senizergues. “Building long lasting products that are sturdy and have a longer life with consumers is an important element to consider in the eco discussions related to manufacturing and consumption.”
The eco-audit determined that 95 percent of Sole Technology’s water usage is attributed to the company’s apparel development, an industry-wide concern among clothing manufacturers that is a leading cause of damage to the environment. By taking immediate actions on business offices such as installing waterless urinals that save 325,000 gallons of water annually and dual flush toilets, the company is already affecting its internal water usage as it continues to research innovative technologies that will also benefit the manufacturing process.
Senizergues’ personal commitment to the environment and ecologically conscious lifestyle has made him a trailblazer in the industry, having implemented green practices many years ago. In addition to his professional goals, Senizergues practices green living at home as well, and has been honored by Global Green USA with a Corporate Environmental Leadership Award for his environmental practices and corporate responsibility. He was also an executive producer with Leonardo DiCaprio on the documentary The 11th Hour about the effects of global warming and how society can prevent further damage.
Stay tuned for more news this week, including further details on our eco-audit results...