Without nature, there's no us.
As cliché as it may be, actions do speak louder than words. That’s why we invited everyone to see our CSR-processes through our 2020 Road map.
Now that the 2020 road map’s journey has been completed, it is only fitting to start our 2029 Road map with far more ambitious goals to drive us through to Norrøna’s 100th birthday.
What can we do better?
Everything, says our Director of innovation and sustainability, Brad Boren.
We are on a journey. The path goes up and down, right and left. While we need to be as effective as possible because the planet doesn’t have time for patience, we also need to take bold steps and make some mistakes along the way. While these mistakes can never make it all the way to the consumer as they are identified in our testing, they need to happen if we are to push new more sustainable materials that can even provide an enhanced user experience. We can make materials that are carbon neutral or negative, waste no water, use no hazardous chemicals, enhance the carbon entrapment of the soil through better farming practices and through more efficient use of our resources. We can rebuild biodiversity back on the planet rather than robbing it and using monocultural practices, We can ensure even more people rise from poverty, and live in a healthy and safe environment. What we can do better is reinvent the industrial revolution to move from vertical production to more of a closed loop. The reality is we can do so much better and be more innovative in a positive way, while also encouraging consumers to engage in new buying patterns with less waste. The mission of what we can do better is a lifelong endeavor, but it always needs to have a beginning and goals to guide us. “Goals – are like magnets that attract us to higher ground and new horizons. They give our eyes a focus, our mind an aim, and our strength a purpose … A goal is a possibility that fulfills a dream” (Lessin, Now that the 2020 road map’s journey has been completed, it is only fitting to start our 2029 Road map with far more ambitious goals to drive us through to Norrøna’s 100th birthday.
What is the 2029 roadmap based on?
The 2029 Road Map is based on improving the biodiversity of our planet through eliminating net carbon emissions, keeping our water and air clean, enriching our soil, protecting our forests and grasslands, and ensuring the rights and safety of all workers affected within the supply chain of our products, says Brad Boren.
Our 2029 goals are about reducing the use of resources, reusing everything possible, and recycling whatever can not be reused. It is a holistic approach towards improvement and engaging in industry wide collaboration for the sake of our planet and our next generation. We take into account the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals(SDG’s) to ensure that there will be peace and prosperity for people and the planet.
Our 2029 Road Map is ambitious, and provides us with nine years in which to present measurable actions that will have a major impact on how Norrøna does business in a more responsible way.
Through this journey of improvement, Norrøna will reduce our carbon emissions so our input and output creates neutrality.
While we have ideas on what will be required to achieve this task, there are many questions we will need to answer in the coming five years to be successful. Part of this will be taking care of our soil and animal health. Allowing natural carbon to be trapped back into nature and reducing our carbon output so that the planet has the ability to process it in a more balanced way. We must take care of our forests, but simply replanting is not enough unless we can complete the process of taking down trees, processing them, replanting them and growing them without using carbon. We will encourage natural biodiversity and avoid monocrops wherever possible. Any animal must be protected using the five animal freedoms and we must drastically reduce our waste so it is as close to zero as possible. Single use plastic must be a thing of the past and all plastic that is used must help create timeless, durable products while the waste is recycled and any possible leakage will decompose. We will not allow hazardous chemicals to be released into the environment through air, water or the soil and everything we produced must go into a use phase. We will require full traceability so that we are able to measure our steps and all actions taken to improve the environment and people’s lives by Norrøna will be through collaboration with our partners and competitors alike. We will work to improve the lives of all those involved with our company, and use the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a guide towards success.
Are we the opposite of fast fashion?
Success relies on Norrøna creating timeless products that increase in value like a fine wine. We spend three to four years developing and testing products so that when it reaches the stores people trust that they work. We say it is an investment, not a purchase, and our greatest measure of success is how long our customers continue to use our products, especially if they never need to be repaired. Fashion that relies on consumers buying and using clothing for six months at a stretch is not sustainable, Even if people put the clothing in a recycling bin after their six months, the products need to be collected, separated, and those that can be recycled must be shredded and either chemically or mechanically recycled. Chemical recycling creates a more robust new fiber but has a larger negative impact on the environment while mechanical recycling has a lower footprint but is not as durable. Either way, the footprint is far too large for us to call it a success. It is better than using fossil fuels to begin the process, but it is much more damaging than using products for a longer period of time. For Norrøna. Using quality, function, design and sustainability into everything we do helps create long lasting products that will have a positive impact.
Should change be about a collection and not a product?
Any company can make a sustainable product. However this will not be enough to help save our planet. The question should be which is your least sustainable product and what are you doing about it? To highlight a single product as sustainable misses the point of sustainability. A brand or retailer should be judged on the holistic collection they offer not the individual parts. We have far too much work to do to reward someone for having an iconic sustainable product. It is like the saying of “Leave no child behind”. You don’t give a reward for the one child that is saved while all the others suffer. You try to save them all. By only making a few sustainable products, a brand or retailer will actually live those children behind by forcing them to live with poor air quality, fires, floods, droughts and powerful storms. Our 2029 Road Map makes sure that as a company, Norrøna looks holistically towards our challenges and work together to find measurable improvements.
How can we be part of changing the industry?
Since 1929 Norrøna has developed and produced the best possible products utilizing our 90 years of knowledge, passion and dedication. We have taken continuous actions to create, test and produce products that will provide quality, function and timeless designs to benefit our customers. We have been repairing our products since the beginning in order to keep them in use for as long as possible.
However, we also realize that since the beginning we have done our share of creating global warming and pollution to the rivers, lakes, oceans and air. We are part of an industry with toxic chemicals, and waste streams that have not acted responsibly. It is for this reason that we have dedicated ourselves to be solution oriented, spending money on more sustainable materials and production and cooperating with any other company including competitors that will work together towards a more sustainable solution.
As a small/medium sized enterprise(SME), Norrøna tries to make companies of all sizes understand that together we can create positive change. At the same time we challenge larger companies to work together on developing the routines, technologies and structures that move all companies in the right direction. We find companies that use sustainability as a competitive weapon to prove they can be first to market with cleaner technologies instead of inviting all interested parties to work together miss the point. Our planet needs all of us using open sourcing to move us away from a continuous decline.
At Norrøna we are involved in advisory groups for Textile Exchange and Sustainable Apparel Coalition. We work on testing and improving the Higgs Index which will help consumers and retailers understand how sustainable and socially responsible a product, factory and brand are. With Textile Exchange, we work together to improve the fibers that are used in our materials.We want to make sure they are made in the most environmental way with the lowest overall impact while also improving the lives of those working on the farms when natural fibers are involved. We also are a partner with Fashion For Good in order to help facilitate new innovations that will drive our industry forward. We work with STICA (Swedish (should be Scandivavian) Textile Initiative for Climate Action) to measure our carbon footprint.
We believe it is through collaboration that we can make a difference and making sure everyone is working together while reducing duplication of efforts.
In addition we also work with the Ethical Trade Initiative and different projects that help improve our society. What is important is that Norrøna as a small/med sized organization shows that smaller companies can and do make an impact. It is important that in its quest for greater responsibility, the textile industry makes sure that it works in collaboration for all size companies so we continue to be rewarded from the innovation of smaller companies without the SME’s being put out of business due to too much paperwork and not enough action. We need to push innovation, transparency and positive progress forward while reducing the complexity of doing the right thing. The race towards improvement must be run together and through mutual respect. Too often, companies are racing to show they are first, which is not often the same as planet first. It is important to work hard together for our planet, and reward those companies making the effort, but if we can have 200 or 2000 companies pushing hard in the same direction, the momentum will be exhilarating, and the improvement will be evident.
If companies continue to try to show they are best at social and sustainability and slow the pace in order to market their achievements, the only loser is our planet and all creatures living on it.
Why is transparency important?
We are a company that makes mistakes. We have been doing this for over 90 years. However it is because of these mistakes that we continue to learn and improve. As a SME (small/medium Enterprise) our desire for full transparency sometimes conflicts with the amount of resources we have available to make the world’s greatest products. It is our desire to link transparency and innovation together as much as possible, but there are times where we choose to do the right thing over document the right thing. In small companies everyone is required to work effectively to make the company as strong as possible and our customers as happy as possible. It is in this overriding need where documentation sometimes feels frustrating as it takes away from our key goals. We have learned that documentation is required to ensure the work that we do, and provide our partners and customers with trust. We therefore have invested in developing data competence in-house so we can use all our resources more effectively and provide a single source of truth for all that we do.
We have invested in many industry collaborations to build up unformed methodologies which make decisions easier to understand, and allow our customer a clearer picture of our priorities and actions. We will continue to work towards full transparency, and hope that our customers not only honor us with their purchase because our products fit, feel and function beyond expectations, but also due to our drive to improve the environment and provide all people associated with making our products a better life. We are not perfect, and we will make mistakes. But we will also be as transparent as possible and are driven to create a positive change.