Earth Day: Brands & Retailers Weigh In On A Sustainable Future

Companies worldwide are engaging their resources and efforts more and more when it comes to creating sustainable products, protecting the environment through more innovative, green manufacturing processes, running more eco-efficient operations, starting from the ground up.

“Earth Day is a reminder that we are never doing enough, both in how we direct our companies and as individuals,” says Eugene, Oregon’s Tactics Boardshop Co-owner Bob Chandler. “In terms of what companies can do to encourage sustainability across our industry? Simple – think long term. For example, where will this product be in 30 years? Can it be reused or recycled? Would I want my kid to bathe in every one if its components? Also, what kind of a consumer/retailer/manufacturer landscape do we want to have in 30 years? Is it simply a world where Amazon/Zappos, the manufacturers selling direct, and publicly held mall stores are left standing? At the end of the day, people alive right now answer these questions and direct the future. Whatever choices are made, they should be conscious, intentional, and thoughtful, with an eye on the future.”

We checked in with Hurley and Volcom to find out what initiatives they have in place for Earth Day and beyond.

Follow the jump to hear about Hurley’s H2o program, World Water Day events, and partnership with The Ecology Center, and click through to page three to hear from Volcom’s Derek Sabori on the brand’s week-long Earth Day celebration, and Burton’s Sustainability Manager Ali Kenney weighs in on page four about the brand’s new initiatives including partnering with Protect Our Winters. 

Weigh in below with you and your company’s Earth Day and ongoing sustainability efforts…

Ecology Center’s Evan Marks and Rob Machado chat about sustainable water strategies on Facebook during World Water Day last month. Photo: Ecology Center

Hurley’s Ben Edwards On H2o program

Hurley has been working with the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano, California for the past three years to establish an ongoing dialogue with surrounding communities and globally when it comes to preserving one of our most precious resources: water. Starting in 2011, Hurley and the center have teamed up for World Water Day in late March, an event that Ben Edwards, Hurley’s VP of Social Activism, has dubbed “the Super Bowl of sustainability.”

This year, the Ecology Center’s Executive Director Evan Marks, Rob Machado, Hurley’s Edwards, and friends worked their way from Hurley HQ to Corona del Mar High, where a thousand students gathered to hear from the school’s H20 club about the initiative for Hydration Nation. Hydration Nation engages students to clean up their schools by eliminating plastic water bottles, and give back by providing clean water for their host nation, according to the Ecology Center.

“Rob skated in and shared some inspirational stories of his first hand experiences of traveling in water scarce regions,” says Marks on the Ecology Center site. “After all 1,000 students took their photos with Rob, we headed back to Hurley for a digital Q&A. Rob and I chatted back and forth, all water related content, via Facebook. We hoped to inspire our global communities to join us and participate in taking World Water Day thinking into everyday.”

The momentum has carried through into April for for the Ecology Center, who held it’s “We Are Earth Day” festival last weekend in San Juan Cap, which drew more than 1,600 community members out to celebrate, enjoy treats from sponsors  Chipotle, Sambazon, and Guayaki, and check out offerings from local artisans and vendors, and many musical talents. Hurley’s team, including Edwards, was also on hand spreading the word to hundreds of people in attendance, many of who pledged to make a difference by choosing to use a reusable water bottle, learn a new DIY skill, learn to compost, or plant a veggie garden.

Intrigued by the amount of awareness the partnership is generating, we caught up with Edwards to learn more about Hurley’s sustainable initiatives, what they have brewing for Earth Day, and how companies can continue to work towards being eco-friendly every day.

Hurley’s VP of Social Activism Benjamin Edwards

How does Hurley view Earth Day? What events, announcements, or special celebrations are you working on this year?

We are fans of Evan and The Ecology Center. We had a great time with them recently at their "Pre-Earth Day" celebration. We helped them create a limited edition supply of t-shirts for The Center recognizing Earth Day which also feature some educational nuggets within the garment. Specifically on Earth Day (4/22), at Hurley.com, we are promoting the simple idea of using a reusable bottle. We feel simple choices add up and what better way to start with a reusable bottle? Why a bottle? Well, over 300 billion single-use-plastic bottles are made every year and we think that's absurd. A bottle is so easy to use and cuts down on waste and energy. So, we are giving out H2O branded bottle with every purchase. Simple, but we think it will help change behavior and lead to a more sustainable lifestyle.

In your opinion, what’s the single most important thing companies can do to give back and help create more sustainability across the board, not just on Earth Day but all year round?

I think it's important for companies to realize sustainability is about innovation. It's about trying to think differently and create better products/services. It's not a marketing slogan or buzz word…it's the way to do business. It just makes sense. Not only do customers expect companies to be doing the right thing but employees do too. It's not a collection of products it's the whole approach. For us, we use recycled plastic bottles to make our boardshorts -- all of them. Then we look to use that technology for t-shirts and other products people love. Why not make something people love and can feel good about? We're not perfect but we know it's a long term proposition. Bottom line, companies need to innovate or they get left behind. The same is true for sustainability. It's a journey.

On a personal level, what do you do to “help the planet” on a daily, weekly, monthly basis?

I have a unique role as I help Hurley develop an overall sustainable working environment and strategy but I also get to help our non-profits do what they do. We work with The Ecology Center to inspire people but we also get to work with guys like Jon Rose at Waves for Water. They are on the frontline combating water scarcity. I have the opportunity to help them provide clean water for those in need and I get to participate in a few missions each year. It's amazing. But, for my day to day solution, I like my reusable water bottle. It's so easy to plug that into my day and it spurs other thinking. Of course we should all recycle everything we can but I try to eliminate waste from entering the equation all together. It's easier than people think…Evan once gave me these reusable travel utensils made of wood and so I use that simple solution for lunch at my desk, etc.

What is one, or some, of the smartest ideas you’ve seen being implemented out there across the globe when it comes to sustainability and protecting the environment? Would this idea work specifically for companies within the action sports industry?

That's a good question. I'd have to say recycling water bottles to make clothing is pretty cool. I mentioned that we make all of our boardshorts out of recycled PET and that's such an amazing process to me. Grinding up old bottles, melt them up, spin into new thread and then a new fabric is made to create something people enjoy. Overall, I'm not a fan of plastic bottles but it's great to see that we all can take a negative and turn it into a positive. Other friends in the industry are starting to use the technology too so that's encouraging. For us, it's fun because we also get to work with our partners up at NIKE who are doing some innovative things with their products as well. But, overall, I love travelling because it helps open my eyes a bit more to understand the world's problems and opportunities. There are so many creative and inspiring people out there so I think the power of the human mind is the most important resource we have to make the world a better place. Putting that human energy toward improving the planet is the best thing we can do to honor Earth Day. Each one of us can make a difference and it's within us all to make a positive change.

Follow the jump to hear from Volcom’s Derek Sabori on the brand’s week-long Earth Day celebration, and Burton’s Sustainability Manager Ali Kenney weighs in on page four about the brand’s new initiatives including partnering with Protect Our Winters.

Weigh in below with you and your company’s Earth Day and ongoing sustainability efforts…

Volcom is no stranger to sustainable business practices,and has been leading the charge in the space. With the recent

Volcom’s Senior Director Of Sustainability Derek Saboi

creation of its first ever Environmental Profit & Loss (EP&L) statement for its 2012 activities, and in conjunction with SustainableSurf.org,  its Volcom Pipe Pro contest has attained Deep Blue Surfing Event status, making it only the second event to do so after the Volcom Fiji Pro.

Curious to see what the company has in place for Earth Day this year, we checked in with Volcom's Senior Director of Sustainability Derek Sabori to hear more.

 How does Volcom view Earth Day? What events, announcements, or special celebrations are you working on this year?

Of course Earth Day is a special day...it's the one day that brings us all together to focus on the greatness of this place. I like keeping sustainability-themed events happening through the entire year, but there's no denying that there's some additional excitement in people's eyes once we get to April.

This year, we're celebrating with a week's worth of events kicking off on Monday while I'm out of the office at a Wildlife Works conference to learn more about reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation! We'll be screening movies in our break room, holding workshops on sustainable printing and paper use, recycling, composting, and on the current state of our internal sustainability program. 

In your opinion, what’s the single most important thing companies can do to give back and help create more sustainability across the board, not just on Earth Day but all year round?

That's a really tough question, because for me, it depends on which room you're in when answering the question (metaphorically speaking). If I had to narrow it down to one thing, though...the more I learn, the more I'm convinced that it's carbon emissions management. Without a stable climate, our oceans are in jeopardy, and when our oceans are in trouble, we're in trouble.

 On a personal level, what do you do to “help the planet” on a daily, weekly, monthly basis?

At home, we're always challenging ourselves to turn up the dial in regards to sustainable living. We're nowhere near perfect, but we've committed to driving hybrid vehicles, recycling everything we can, paying much attention to the foods we purchase/eat, composting at home, supporting environmentally-focused non-profits regularly, speaking to our kids regularly about where their food comes from and the benefits of a healthy body and a healthy planet, waste-free lunches, solar panels on our roof, and riding surfboards that would qualify for the Ecoboard Project. I'm vowing this year to begin harvesting rainwater as well.

What are some of the smartest ideas you’ve seen being implemented out there across the globe when it comes to sustainability and protecting the environment? Would this idea work specifically for companies within the action sports industry?

Outside of the creative approaches that organizations like PangeaSeed, The Ecology Center, and Sustainable Surf are using to raise awareness, I'd have to say the Sustainable Apparel Coalition's Higg Index and Kering's Environmental Profit & Loss are two of the smartest things happening here, close to home. Both are crucial for understanding where your design and manufacturing impacts are, thus allowing you to make decisions to better manage your environmental footprint. Both can (and will, I hope) be widely rolled out in the action sports industry in the near future.

Follow the jump to hear from Burton’s Sustainability Manager Ali Kenney  about the brand’s new initiatives including partnering with Protect Our Winters.

Weigh in below with you and your company’s Earth Day and ongoing sustainability efforts…

Burton Sustainability Manager Ali Kenney  On New Initiatives And Partnering With Protect Our Winters

In honor of Earth Day, Burton has created a new partnership with Protect Our Winters (POW). Moving forward, the brand plans to encourage more riders to join POW's efforts through social media campaigns, and the company will actively promote POW at marquee events like the US Open Snowboarding Championships.

To kick things off today, Burton and POW are launching an awareness campaign on Instagram where riders can share how they protect our winters and in turn win cool prizes from Burton and POW. To get involved, riders simply upload a photo and caption that shows how they protect our winters to @burtonsnowboard on Instagram and tag #HowYouPOW. Each month, a new winner will be randomly selected and recognized for their fresh take on making a difference. To learn more details, check out the full story here.

Burton Global Sustainability Manager Ali Kenney

We checked in with Ali Kenney, Burton’s global sustainability manager, to hear more about what the Vermont-based company has planned for Earth Day and beyond this year.

How does Burton view Earth Day? What events, announcements, or special celebrations are you working on this year?

Earth Day has become increasingly important to us at Burton with every passing year. This year we are really excited to announce we're stepping up our efforts in support of Protect Our Winters, (POW), to help alleviate the dramatic effects of climate change on our winters. Together, Burton and POW will focus on building awareness and taking action against global warming in the snowboard community through social media campaigns, global team rider activation and events.

Burton and POW are launching an awareness campaign on Instagram where riders can share how they protect our winters and in turn win cool prizes from Burton and POW. To get involved, riders simply upload a photo and caption that shows how they protect our winters to @burtonsnowboard on Instagram and tag #HowYouPOW. Each month, a new winner will be randomly selected and recognized for their fresh take on making a difference.

On a local level, we will celebrate Earth Day at our global headquarters a few weeks from now with the Vermont GreenUp Day efforts. The whole state of Vermont mobilizes to get rid of all trash on the ground after our long winters - Burton has worked on this effort for years now. We get trash bags, gloves and snacks and assemble our workforce to get outside and pick up trash in our community.

This year we're tying that effort into a larger campaign within our own Burton headquarters called, "Kick the Can." We have been composting and recycling at Burton for awhile now but are working hard to move to zero waste. At the "Kick the Can" event, we are encouraging all Burton employees to get rid of their individual trash cans to increase our waste reduction efforts. There will be fun games like Ollie contests over trash cans, and all participating employees will receive a "Kick the Can" glass jar that they are encouraged to use at all times. We're kicking the beer can too, and single use water bottles. Anyone that brings their Kick the Can glass to future events will get a fast lane to the keg. These grassroots efforts at headquarters continue to build a stronger sustainability culture that drives our larger global impact.

In your opinion, what’s the single most important thing companies can do to give back and help create more sustainability across the board, not just on Earth Day but all year round?

We strongly believe that businesses can have the biggest impact on the world by both cleaning up our own operations and influencing policy while also motivating and inspiring everyone around us to do the same. Sustainability is an entirely different mindset than the traditional way of doing business- and it can't just be token efforts. At Burton, we have an extensive commitment to sustainability and are working to change our entire business model to take our environmental and social impact into account in every single decision we make. 

I'm lucky enough to run our sustainability efforts and report directly to our amazing co-owner and President, Donna Carpenter. She gets it at every level and has always inspired us all to live better lives. By having someone like Donna lead our efforts, we know that we can accomplish huge change very quickly. 

Since 2008, Burton has actively increased its focus on sustainability by working to ensure a healthier future for all riders through efforts like the Green Mountain Process, where Burton seeks to improve not just the use of sustainable materials, but also the production process as a whole. In addition, through a continued collaboration with Mountain Dew, Burton has gained a consistent supplier of high-grade fabrics woven with recycled plastic soda bottles. And last year, Burton became a bluesign® system partner to ensure select softgoods and bags meet the highest standards of environmental responsibility, consumer safety, and resource conservation.

On a personal level, what do you do to “help the planet” on a daily, weekly, monthly basis?

On a personal level, I try to lead an authentic, honest life at every level. As the leader of our sustainability efforts for Burton, I need to set the example. I'd be an impostor if I didn't. In every decision I make, I try to be considerate of the environment around me. I try to bike/walk most of the year. I grow organic produce, compost whenever I can, and raise backyard chickens. In the greater community, I am the chair of our city's environmental board and I am always trying to inspire others- positive action is contagious.That's what we're hoping to do here at Burton - spread the love for the natural world we love so much.

What is one, or some, of the smartest ideas you’ve seen being implemented out there across the globe when it comes to sustainability and protecting the environment? Would this idea work specifically for companies within the action sports industry?

Natural-resource constraints and climate change are the most important issues affecting our industry right now. Any efforts to reduce the amount that we consume is the single most important step we can take. This starts in the early steps of production - all products should be designed and manufactured for sustainability and efficiency. 

Some of Burton's efforts in this area are really exciting - like our collaborative efforts with Mountain Dew to increase the recycled content of our products and our partnership with bluesign to produce safe, environmentally- friendly products. These key stories are all part of our bigger "Green Mountain Process" that now takes sustainability into account at every step in the process. In the end, we want to make the best, most durable products so that people can enjoy the outdoors. We need to move away from disposable culture, and if we make awesome stuff that lasts, we'll all be able to enjoy the natural world for years to come.

For more information on all of Burton's sustainability efforts, check out our site at www.burton.com/sustainability.

 

Weigh in below with you and your company’s Earth Day and ongoing sustainability efforts…