Footwear and Apparel
Footwear and apparel companies like Nike, Gap and Levi Strauss & Co. are uniquely challenged by sustainability risks such as climate change, water scarcity and human rights. These companies rely on a stable climate to ensure consistent production of crops like cotton and wool for their clothing. Their wide spread operations and supply chains require large amounts of the water and energy to produce, package and ship merchandise to malls and stores across the globe. And the health and safety of the workers producing their goods must be ensured and continuously protected. From unsafe working conditions to air, water and chemical pollution, companies must ensure safe and just business practices in their own operations and across their entire supply chains.
In addition to these risks, consumer brands are vulnerable to reputational threats regarding the social and environmental impacts of not only their business activities, but also the products they sell. Responding to these risks creates game-changing opportunities that offer competitive advantages. From seed to sale, these companies are seizing cost-saving solutions that not only improve sustainability, but also the bottom line.
Recognizing that the greatest potential for positive impact lies in the supply chain, footwear and apparel companies are requiring suppliers, factories and shippers to adopt similar standards, embedding sustainability throughout the supply chain. Leaders in this industry are identifying strategies to improve the lives of workers, reduce energy costs and emissions in stores and factories, innovate manufacturing processes to save millions of gallons of water, and create products that require fewer raw materials and harsh chemicals.
Footwear and Apparel Initiatives
Ceres works with footwear and apparel companies, industry associations, investors, regulators and other stakeholders to reduce the environmental and social impacts of products and activities both at the company level and throughout global supply chains.
Ceres works with each company in our to regularly measure and report on their sustainability risks, strategy and bottom-line performance. Through regular stakeholder meetings, Ceres has secured major improvements from companies, including: k
- Working with Nike to become the first global apparel company to disclose the names and locations of its 700-plus contract factories– a crucial first-step toward improving factory worker conditions globally
- Helping develop Timberland’s “Green Index” and “Nutritional Label,” which measures and discloses the impact of its footwear with regard to climate impacts, chemical use, factory conditions and resource consumption
- Providing key advise and feedback on an industry-wide “Eco-Index,” a shared platform for companies to evaluate the environmental impacts of the materials and design of their products
Policy and Regulatory Action
In 2008, Ceres launched a new business coalition calling for strong climate and clean energy legislation in the U.S. and globally. The group, Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP), includes footwear and apparel companies like Nike, Timberland, Gap, Anvil Knitwear, Eileen Fisher, The North Face and Levi Strauss & Co. as well as other major brands including Starbucks, Best Buy and Target. Ceres is working with these companies to promote the business and economic benefits of strong carbon-reducing policies regionally, nationally and globally.
Education and Reports
Ceres releases cutting edge reports to inform investors, regulators and company leaders about the risks and opportunities from climate change, water availability constraints and other key sustainability issues for the footwear and apparel industry.
- Corporate Governance and Climate Change: Consumer and Technology Companies
- Murky Waters? Corporate Reporting on Water Risk
The Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability
Ceres has released The 21st Century Corporation: The Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability as a vision and practical roadmap for integrating sustainability into the DNA of all businesses, regardless of sector or industry. It analyzes the key drivers, risks and opportunities involved in making the shift to sustainability and details strategies and results companies should be striving for.
To learn more about our work with the footwear and apparel companies or to get more involved, contact Kristen Lang, Corporate Program Manager.