Comparing Carbon Footprints of Nike and Timberland Shoe Companies

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Our group is interested in comparing the carbon footprints of two major clothing brands, Nike and Timberland. For comparison, we used statistics provided by the companies through their public Responsibility Reports. These Responsibility Reports have been reviewed by reliable third party committees.

We found that Americans purchase on average 8 pairs of shoes every year. This translates to about 7,142,094,187 CO2 tonnes released into the atmosphere every year, in addition to the rest of the world’s population. Click “see the math” on the left menu bar for the calculations.

In relation to Nike and Timberland, we are interested on investigating their impact on the world. Their global dominance and fast business rates are sure to have large carbon footprints; and our project is aimed at calculating their total impact. We also worked to investigate the carbon emissions per shoe in order to learn of each company’s efficiency. As shoes are a basic necessity for modern life, it is satisfying to learn of their environmental effect.

To calculate the carbon footprint emitted from shoes purchased in the United States, we used our population of 304,696,851, as of July 26, 2008. 8 pairs of shoes per person is described in the report by the American Apparel and Footwear Association. Each shoe manufactured emits about 2.93 CO2 tonnes

Population In the United States: 304,696,851

Average Shoes per person per year: x 8

CO2 emitted per pair: x 2.93

Grand Total of CO2 due to shoes in US: =7,142,094,187

During our research, we found that Timberland and Nike had both published their complete responsibility reports. This made them simple to compare. However, these reports are the year 2005, so the information is to be used solely as a comparison and not an updated reference.

Nike reported 1.43 million carbon tonnes of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere in the year 2005. Timberland, being a much smaller company, only emits 29,071 carbon tonnes a year.

To compare their carbon footprint we used ratios of their revenue over their carbon footprint to compare which company is more efficient at making money. The revenue of Nike was 16.326 billion dollars. Timberland on the other hand, only had a revenue of 1.566 billion dollars. If we do the ratios of revenue over carbon footprint, the higher the number the more efficient the company is.


$16.326x10^9 / 1,430,000 tonnes

=11416.78 $/tonnes


$1.566x10^9 / 29,071 tonnes

=53868 $/tonnes

Therefore, we can conclude that Timberland is more efficient than Nike; and by 4.72x too!

53868 $/tonnes / 11416.78 $/tonnes = 4.72

If we wanted to estimate the carbon footprint of Timberland, as if its revenue were the same as Nike, we can use a proportion:

$16.326x10^9 / A = $1.566x10^9 / 29,071 tonnes

Cross-multiplying and canceling out 10^9 , we get

474613.146 = 1.566A

Then, divide both sides by 1.566. You find that if Timberland were the size of Nike, it would have a carbon footprint of only 303,073.53 metric tonnes.

From our research and comparison, Nike is found to have a larger carbon footprint than Timberland. We suspect that their huge footprint is influenced by their immense global dominance. Timberland is a smaller company, so their production and sales is significantly smaller than that of Nike.

Multiple factors are included when calculating the carbon footprint of a company. The majority of the footprint comes from transportation of various materials and products. The companies continually ship and truck their products around the world to supply their consumers. More often than not, their materials must be collected and transported from across the world to the factories, to later then be shipped to stores. The factories are predominately powered by coal, the most polluting energy source, which releases 1 kg CO2 per kilowatt hour. In production of each shoe, there is the preparation of the materials, assembly, cleaning, polishing, painting, packaging, and shipping from factory to consumer. Behind the scenes, there is often waste management that must be attended too. Although there are recycling programs in place, many shoes are often dumped into landfills as their graveyard.

To reduce their carbon footprint, Nike and Timberland have many options they should bring attention to. From the start, they could use sustainable and renewable materials that are close to the factories to reduce their impact on the land and cut out shipping costs and carbon emissions. A major help would to lessen their usage of coal energy and switch to renewable gases for fuel. They can cut down on their packaging and use low impact transportation to bring their product from factory to consumer.

Global Climate Change is a huge issue facing our world today. There seems to be a very clear relationship between carbon dioxide levels and global warming. We live in a society driven by carbon-emitting fuel sources that play a major role in global warming. Something needs to be done to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere; something that will slow the unnatural patterns of climate change.

Corporations like Nike and Timberland have a huge responsibility to help reduce carbon emissions in order to secure the future of our planet. However, large corporations are not the only ones responsible for carbon emissions. People all over the world are contributing to global warming by living wasteful lifestyles. It is time to start thinking about our everyday actions that have a negative impact on the environment.

So, do you drive everywhere you go? Do you eat meat in every meal? Do you throw bottles and cans in the garbage? Do you take long showers? Did you know that all of these actions could potentially have a negative impact on the environment? But, do not get too down about it; simple lifestyle changes can help reduce your impact on the atmosphere.

One of the easiest things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint is to bypass meat in some of your meals. Eating one pound of meat is the carbon equivalent of driving a SUV 40 miles. Imagine all the CO2 you can spare the atmosphere if you stop eating meat. You do not even have to be a full out vegetarian to reduce your impact. Just skipping meat in a few meals a week is sufficient enough.

As for driving, on average, one gallon of gasoline releases about 20 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere. The easiest solution to this problem is to share your ride. Carpooling is a great way to reduce your impact. Riding to work or school with family and friends helps take cars off the road and reduces the amount of CO2 emissions. Riding public transportation is another way to offset your carbon emissions, and it is a great way to save money at the gas pumps. Bicycles and skateboards are also fun and easy to use methods of transportation that emit no CO2.

Recycling used bottles and cans is another very easy, and possibly rewarding, step to reduce your carbon emissions. Recycling plastic, glass, and aluminum uses much less energy than making them from scratch. Many places will even give you cash recycling. In California, cans and bottles can be returned for CRV. CRV is a deposit paid on cans and bottles at the time of purchase. Recycling the bottles and cans allows consumers to get their deposit back and sometimes even a little extra depending on aluminum prices.

Take shorter showers. Don't stop taking them all together, things could get a little smelly if you did that. Next time you are in the shower, just think about all of the energy it takes to transport and heat the water you are using. When you brush your teeth, do not leave the water running. Make sure to install water efficient aerators on your sinks and shower heads. The water you drink is also very important; bottled water uses even more energy to transport and purify than tap water. If your water tastes bad, install a filtration or softening system in your home.

Be creative when it comes to reducing your own carbon footprint. There are thousands of solutions and things that you can do to help slowdown climate change and make the Earth a better and cooler place to live. Climate change is in our hands, and we have the power to control it. Rethink, reuse, and recycle. Water and energy are precious resources; be smart with them! We only have one Earth, and it our job to take care of things before it is too late.

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MLA Citation:
"Comparing Carbon Footprints of Nike and Timberland Shoe Companies." 26 May 2016

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