People, process and product.
This story first appeared in the May 23, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
That’s what Lands’ End calls the “three buckets” of its commitment to sustainability, according to Randy Peterson, senior director of engineering, corporate services and sustainability.
Peterson noted that this began to crystallize in 2009, when he was tasked with the overall sustainability responsibility at Lands’ End and helped establish a cross-functional team of about 30 people in the company to form what is called the “Go Green Team.”
“We developed a road map to greater sustainability, with goals that reach beyond 2020,” he said. “Among our key initiatives are the transparency of establishing a reporting structure that would look at the various aspects of sustainability throughout the organization.
“We adopted the Global Report Initiative as a platform,” he added, noting that the first GRI report is expected to be published in the next few months.
As for the three buckets, the “People” portion includes a range of efforts. In one project, the company has joined the Clean Lakes Alliance to clean up the lake system in the Upper Peninsula of Wisconsin.
“The alliance has a goal of reducing the phosphorus in the lakes by 50 percent,” Peterson said. “As part of the program, each year about 150 to 200 employees spend a day doing projects around the lake.”
Peterson is also proud of two internal projects. In April 2012, Lands’ End planted an orchard on the corporate campus in Dodgeville that consists of about 50 apple, pear and cherry trees. “When trees in the orchard produce fruit suitable for picking, Lands’ End makes sure no food goes to waste, from offering fruit as a healthy snack to our employees and guests to donating to a local food bank,” he said. The orchard sits near the company’s community vegetable garden, which takes the same approach.
The “Process” aspect is more complex and combine lifestyle and corporate initiatives. One key goal was to bring more alternative energy sources to the Lands’ End campus. Recently, wind patterns and solar energy were tested to determine their feasibility. Since 2004, Lands’ End has made major improvements in paper reduction through precise catalogue distribution and in-house recycling efforts.
“Through the National Forest Foundation, we have planted 400,000 trees,” he said. “Our preference is to work with suppliers that practice sustainable forestry.”
Since 2009, Lands’ End has participated in the Carbon Disclosure Project to encourage carbon measurement and reporting, and has reduced its carbon use by 17 percent. “By reducing our carbon footprint, we’ve seen $3 million in savings, and 70,000 tons of carbon [has] been taken out of our processes,” Peterson said.
In the area of “Product” sustainability, the company has taken several steps regarding the materials it uses and in its relationship with suppliers. Peterson said, “We are doing quite a bit of work internally of establishing a great understanding of what our vendors are doing, starting with the top 10 suppliers.”
Last year, Lands’ End Business Outfitters created a line designed to leave a lighter carbon footprint. Made from 30 percent pre-consumer recycled cotton, the men’s and women’s polos and button-down tops are the first step in incorporating recycled materials into Lands’ End clothing. The company also developed a special packaging for eco products using a 100 percent recycled plastic poly bag.
Also last year, Lands’ End launched the Made in the USA collection, starting with its Durable Goods line, which pays homage to its heritage and the importance of manufacturing products in America. The company also features items constructed of Supima cotton that is exclusively grown in the U.S.
“Sustainability is part of the umbrella of corporate social responsibility,” Peterson said. This year, Lands’ End joined the Textile Exchange organization and is working with it to learn more about alternative sustainable fabrics. Through parent Sears Holdings Corp., Lands’ End has become a member of the Retail Industry Leaders Association and has been named to the supplier sustainability task force.