Racing Against the Climate Change Clock
VF escalates its work to mitigate the global climate crisis, joining international leaders at New York Climate Week
Today, as the world’s collective attention narrows in on New York Climate Week and the U.N. Climate Summit, VF and its brands are on hand to learn, listen, and continue advocating for change.
Timberland® associates are kicking off Climate Week with an event supporting the Great Green Wall initiative to grow an 8,000 km span of trees across the width of Africa. The North Face® is calling on the nation’s leaders to act on climate. Napapijri® launched a fully circular jacket, and icebreaker® is raising awareness about microfibers.
“The global climate crisis is the biggest issue facing our world today,” said Jeannie Renne-Malone, VF Vice President, Global Sustainability. “We believe we have an opportunity and responsibility to leverage the scale of our business and our workforce to create systematic change in our industry and beyond.”
We have long worked to reduce our carbon footprint, scale back on water use and turn to renewable energy sources. But we are now leading the way toward new approaches that are creating new business opportunities. This includes developing a circular business method that focuses on limiting the use of virgin raw materials.
As VF prepares to launch new science-based climate goals in December to drive the company’s impact and innovation at this critical moment in time, we talk with Jeannie, VF’s newest sustainability leader who has worked in sustainability for her entire career. Jeannie sheds light on VF’s outlook on climate change and the important battle ahead.
Q: VF has a team of people in NYC this week participating in Climate Week as thought leaders and industry influencers. Why is it important to attend?
Jeannie: We know that not one person or one brand can solve climate change alone. Climate Week gives us the opportunity to partner with like-minded, action-oriented organizations. There are some very big companies within our industry. Imagine what could happen if we all put our focus on one issue and even more so on one key area within that issue. The impacts could be instant and massive.
Q: What type of impact are you speaking of?
Jeannie: When we, as a global enterprise, focus our energy and resources on an initiative such as high-volume purchasing of recycled polyester, not only do we lower the cost of the material for our brands, but we also lower it for others in our industry, which in turn makes sustainable materials more affordable globally. We believe in a better way of doing business and our Made for Change strategy looks to create new business opportunities, design for maximum product life cycles and enable products to be deconstructed and fed back into our production cycle.
Q: VF is guided by a strong Purpose Statement, “We power movements of sustainable and active lifestyles for the betterment of people and our planet.” How does this factor into VF’s climate change work?
Jeannie: We run every decision through the filters of our values and our Purpose. How we create our products is just as important as what we produce. With every decision, we ask ourselves, will this positively impact people or the planet. If the answer is yes, we’ll move it forward. However, if the answer is no, it’s a hard stop.
Q: Where does VF hope to be in the next 10 years with its environmental work?
Jeannie: Our vision is a world where we are carbon positive, which means we would support the generation of more renewable energy than we consume. However, in 10 years our goal is to do our part, through a science-based effort, to uphold the commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement.
Q: Carbon positive is a lofty goal, how are you moving from where you are today toward carbon neutrality and then beyond?
Jeannie: We have a talented team dedicated to pushing us forward and rethinking how we do business. Some of our key targets include:
- Using 100% renewable energy by 2025. We now use 14% renewable energy across our owned and operated facilities
- A 35% reduction in the average impact of our key materials by 2025
- A commitment to carbon neutral operations by 2050, as a signatory to the United Nations’ Fashion Industry Charter on Climate Change
- Addressing climate change through engagement, raising awareness and education
Q: Recommerce is a new buzz-worthy word in the industry. Where is VF on this?
Jeannie: We believe in a better way of doing business and circularity is a key pillar in our sustainability strategy because it helps Mother Nature by limiting our use of raw materials. We are creating new business opportunities, designing for maximum product life cycles, and using materials and processes that enable products to be deconstructed and fed back into our production cycle. By 2030, we strive to be leaders of large-scale commercialization of circularity in all facets of business.
Q: What is VF doing to ensure transparency in our supply chain?
Jeannie: Traceability and transparency are the keys to our success. At VF we diligently trace our supply chain back to the origins of our key raw materials. This allows us to drive meaningful change at the commodity level while also sharing the story of a product with our consumers. Our greatest opportunity for positive impacts comes by driving a change in the materials we use to produce our products.
To learn more about VF’s sustainability initiatives, click here.