Sustainability is a marathon, not a sprint.

“This isn’t a trend; it’s our responsibility,” said Jay Piccola, president and GM of Puma North America, during an address on the first morning of the summit. “We, as an industry, can make a difference. The sheer volume of people we speak to and work with is massive. And our consumers are asking us to drive change.”

But change isn’t easy, and it won’t always happen quickly, according to the executive. “Not each solution will be perfect right away,” he said.

At Puma, where the sustainability effort has been led by CEO Jochen Zeitz, the company has updated its mission statement to reflect its green-focused initiatives.

“We want to be the most desirable and sustainable sports lifestyle company in the world,” Piccola said. “We needed to have a vision for our employees.”

The firm’s five-year sustainability plan includes reducing carbon dioxide, energy, water and waste by 25 percent throughout its offices, stores, warehouses and direct supplier factories. Puma also is working to manufacture 50 percent of its collections with sustainable materials, such as organic cotton.

To make it happen, Puma is calling on its suppliers and logistics providers to be more environmentally minded.

In addition to pushing for more cooperation across the supply chain, Puma wants to make its stores more eco-friendly.

Just last month, the brand reopened its Paris flagship, which now combines high-tech interactive features with green materials for merchandising and decor.

“We’re constantly asking questions like ‘Are we using recyclable paper?’ or ‘Are we using sustainable materials?’” he said.

The company also is moving forward with its unconventional plan to replace its shoeboxes with the “Clever Little Bag,” a reusable mesh bag created by famed industrial designer Yves Behar. All existing boxes will be replaced by 2013.

Piccola said that while the company has made significant strides in the sustainability arena, it has a long way to go.

“We need to keep it up,” he said, asking the crowd to embrace the green movement. “If you’re not involved, get involved.”

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