This Swedish Outdoor Shoe Brand Just Outdid Everyone in Sustainability

While many shoe companies are striving to become carbon-neutral, Icebug has taken its sustainable mission a step further by becoming the first climate-positive outdoor footwear brand.

During the past year, the Sweden-based footwear brand committed to implementing measures from the United Nations Climate Neutral Now initiative, aimed at emissions reduction.

As part of that process, firms are asked to measure their emissions, reduce them as much as possible and then offset the remainder by purchasing U.N.-certified emission reduction points (or CERs).

Icebug estimated that it produced 3,637 tons of greenhouse gas for fiscal year March 1, 2018, to Feb. 28, 2019. However, the company found it challenging to get an accurate measure of its emissions. So to be on the safe side, it overcompensated by buying 30 percent more CERs, landing it in climate-positive territory. In total, it purchased 4,755 tons of CO2 equivalents through the UN Carbon Offset Platform.

A runner hits the trail in Icebug shoes.
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand

“When we made the decision, we plunged into the unknown,” CEO David Ekelund said in a statement. “We didn’t know if it would cost 20 cents or 20 euros [$22] per shoe, but we felt we had to take action.”

He challenged leaders at footwear brands to follow their lead. “As a society, we still have a lot of work left to do to reduce emissions,” said Ekelund. “Simply offsetting is not a free card to continue business as usual. We want the maximum effect, and that can only be achieved if others follow suit.”

Many in the footwear sphere have indeed taken dramatic action on the climate front. Last year, Montreal-based Aldo Group was certified carbon-neutral after a five-year process. To offset its emissions, the company invested in wind farms in Europe and North America, and hydroelectric projects in China.

And French fashion conglomerate Kering (parent of Gucci, Balenciaga and other top labels) has implemented a program aimed at reducing its environmental footprint by 40 percent by 2025.

In the U.S., meanwhile, more than 2,000 businesses and investors have signed on as part of the We Are Still In campaign, committing to following through with the Paris climate agreement after the Trump administration made the decision to withdraw from the global pact.

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