Green Sole Operations
In 2017, Vans moved into a brand new corporate Headquarters in Costa Mesa, California.
We knew this was an opportunity to truly make a positive impact on the environment and committed to certifying the project as LEED Platinum, which we expect to receive in 2018. Features of our new home include:
- A 1 Megawatt carport solar array. Over 4,000 solar panels will provide more than 50% of the building’s energy needs, preventing 440 metric tons of CO2 emissions per year
- 38 electric vehicle charging stations, free for Vans employees to use. The EV charging stations are powered by the solar array and encourage employees to reduce their carbon footprint and contribution to air pollution
- Cutting edge lighting, heating and cooling technologies that make the building 48% more efficient than building code requirements
- State of the art fixtures and equipment, making the new Vans headquarters 40% more water efficient than building code requirements
- Landscaping with plants native to Southern California that require less water
- More than 50% of the wood used in construction is Forest Stewardship Certified
- Comprehensive recycling and composting program with the goal to become a zero-waste facility
IVans’ Santa Fe Springs, California Distribution Center is over half a million square feet and ships out more than 30 million products a year.
Its size is both a challenge and an opportunity to make positive change. Here’s what we’ve done so far:
- By implementing LED lighting, this facility is in the top 25% of distribution centers worldwide for energy efficiency as rated by the Energy Star rating system
- In 2013, it became a zero waste to landfill facility. This means over 95% of waste from our distribution center is recycled. The remaining waste is diverted to a waste-to-energy facility. In 2017, we recycled over 97% of waste at this facility
- The employee led sustainability steering committee manages all aspects of the zero-waste program and continually looks for ideas and projects to reduce waste
- We recycle more than 11,000 lbs. of cardboard each day, saving enough energy to power the average American home for more a year
- We reuse as many inbound shipping boxes as possible for outbound shipping, saving more than 120,000 lbs. of cardboard a year
Our Vans Mexico City Distribution Center is a LEED certified building that uses energy efficient lighting an equipment and was built using recycled and regional materials.
Vans retail stores occupy more than 1 million square feet of retail space. More than 6,000 Vans family members interact with thousands of our retail consumers every day. Here’s they support our sustainability efforts:
- Our Vans store in Charleston, South Carolina was certified LEED Platinum in 2017 by using water and energy efficient fixtures and recycling more than 50% of construction waste
- All of our retail stores are built with sustainability in mind. For example- we use Forest Stewardship Certified wood and low-VOC paint
- 100% of Vans stores in North America use LED lighting. LEDs use over 40% less energy compared to our previous lighting
- Since 2013, we’ve been selling a reusable shopping bag, with proceeds benefiting the A.skate foundation and Surfer’s Healing. To date, we’ve donated over $1.5 million to these charities through the sale of this bag and saved approximately 125,000 lbs. of plastic
Vans events- from the surfing contests we sponsor to the concerts we put on at our House of Vans locations- create lasting memories. Reducing our environmental impact of these events, as well as ensuring that we are respecting the local host communities, is an important part of our commitment to protecting the planet for future generations.
Since 2013, Vans has been working to reduce the impact of the surf contests we sponsor. We take a comprehensive approach to this, working on everything from waste reduction and recycling to powering the events with renewable energy to measuring and offsetting the carbon footprint of the event. Watch our own Dane Gudauskas as he learns about our sustainability efforts at the 2014 VTCS. Still want to learn more? Read more about the sustainability performance of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing 2013, 2014 and 2015 and the Vans US Open of Surfing 2014 and 2015.
There’s always more we can do. Our Green Sole Operations program keeps us focused on making strides in minimizing our environmental footprint. We’re implementing best practices and technologies to reduce the amount of energy we use and the waste we create in our operations.
What we’re doing in 2018 to further reduce our environmental footprint:
- Focusing on source reduction at our Costa Mesa HQ, with the aim to make our home zero waste
- Implement learnings from our Charleston LEED Platinum certified store into our processes so that new Vans stores are even more sustainable than our current fleet
- Continue to improve our sustainability performance at the US Open and Vans Triple Crown of Surfing
Green Sole PRODUCT
Created by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, the Higg Index measures the environmental performance of apparel and footwear products. Through our parent company VF Corporation, we are a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, an industry-wide group of over 100 leading apparel and footwear brands, retailers, suppliers, nonprofits, and NGOs working to reduce the environmental and social impacts of apparel and footwear products around the world. Here’s how Vans uses the Higg Index
- We use the factory environmental module to measure the sustainability practices of our supply chain
- The product module enables our teams to assess key apparel and footwear products. Through this process, we identify where improvement can be made and develop strategies for increasing the environmental performance of our entire product line.
- We complete the brand module annually and use the results in our strategic planning.
Using the Higg index, we analyze our packaging materials and find ways to make them more sustainable. We’ve taken the following actions:
- We eliminated branded hangtags on several key apparel product categories, saving over 400 trees annually.
- Hangtags that we use on our Men’s apparel products are now made with 100% post-consumer recycled paper, printed using soy-based inks and use a jute cord
- Our shoeboxes are made with 80% post-consumer recycled paper, printed using soy based inks and use less ink than our previous footwear box
- Eliminated hangers and hang tags on surf footwear, saving hundreds of thousands of pounds of material per year as well as the fuel and emissions needed to ship these hangers around the globe
Cotton is the highest volume of raw material that Vans uses in its products. It also has a disproportionately high impact on the environment. Did you know that cotton makes up 13% of the weight of a pair of Vans Authentics, but contributes 43% of its carbon footprint?
The Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) works to reduce the environmental impact of cotton production and improve livelihoods and economic development in cotton producing areas. Vans has been sourcing BCI cotton since 2014. Our goal is to source 100% sustainable cotton by 2025.
Some of the ways we are working to incorporate BCI cotton into our supply chain:
- In 2014, Vans worked with our supply chain partners to begin sourcing BCI cotton for our footwear canvas. BCI accounted for less than 5% of the cotton we sourced for our canvas in 2014. In 2017, we sourced 48% BCI cotton.. We are committed to increasing this percentage significantly in 2018 and beyond
- In 2015, we started sourcing BCI Cotton to make 30 apparel products including a selection of Men’s tanks and Boy’s shirts
Vans uses leather certified by the Leather Working Group (LWG). LWG certifies that the facilities that process leather are measuring and actively reducing their footprint on the environment. This includes water use, energy consumption, air pollution, and waste. 82% of the leather used in Vans footwear is LWG certified. Our goal is to reach 100% LWG certified leather in 2018.
In addition to using better materials in our products and packaging, we work with our supply chain partners to reduce the impact of their operations. Here’s how:
- In 2012, VF partnered with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), and International Finance Corporation, a member of The World Bank Group, to engage 24 large Chinese apparel and footwear suppliers in an in-depth energy efficiency program. The program identified opportunities to reduce energy use across all supplier facilities by an average of 20 percent. We’ve since extended this program to Vietnam and Cambodia
- Through CHEM-IQ℠, VF is more proactive in our chemical management efforts, and the program simplifies chemical management for our contract suppliers so they can make better choices regarding the use of chemicals in their own facilities. Through this program, we’ve removed 510 tons of non-preferred chemicals from our supply chain.
- Our materials policies and standards ensure that our supply chain partners reflect our values
Suppliers must meet strict social, environmental and ethical standards established by VF Corporation. As a part of the VF sourcing and supply chain organization, we benefit from the company’s expertise in conducting audits and demanding compliance with strict standards across the vast supply chains of all its brands. For more information, read the VF Sustainability and Responsibility report.
We’re going beyond social compliance at our factories. Through our Sustainable Living Environments program, we collaborate with the supplier and local third-party organizations to address the needs of workers outside the factory walls. Examples of projects funded through this program include a mobile medical clinic in Cambodia and women’s health and finance programs in Vietnam.
We continue to challenge ourselves. We have more work to do to lower the environmental footprint of our products and are committed to making progress for a better future. Here’s how:
- Using the Higg index and Life Cycle Assessment, we will evaluate the environmental footprint of our products holistically. Integrating environmental considerations into product design and a more effective development process is key
- Increase the amount of BCI cotton we source for both our footwear and apparel products
In its eight year, the Vans Custom Culture art competition inspires high school students across the United States to embrace their creativity. Our Custom Culture program highlights the importance of art in education in the face of shrinking budgets. Vans donates $75,000 each year to the winning school’s art program as well as $4,000 each to the four runners-up. What’s more, Vans supports Americans for the Arts as part of the Custom Culture program.
Vans partners with nonprofits that enable creative expression through art, music and action sports . We also support environmental organizations that protect planet for future generations as part of our commitment to youth.
In 2017, we supported numerous organizations with monetary and in-kind donations, including: Surfrider Foundation, Protect our Winters and the A.skate Foundation.
Click here to submit a donation request.
In addition to monetary and in-kind donations, we enable creative self-expression through volunteering. Through our Vans Gives Back program, we give employees at our headquarters and Santa Fe Springs distribution center the opportunity to directly impact their community by volunteering.
Each year, Vans organizes community service projects with local organizations like the Surfrider foundation and Stoked Mentoring for two Vans Gives Back days. In addition to Vans Gives Back, Vans employees are given 20 paid volunteers hours each year to serve organizations close to their heart.
Our employees are at the heart of real sustainable change. To make progress every day, we encourage our employees to take part in and contribute to our Vans Sole programs.
What our employees are doing:
- Our employee-led sustainability working group tackles issues such as recycling, paper use and energy reduction at our Costa Mesa HQ
- Our Giving Council, comprised of employee volunteers, meets twice a year to evaluate and fund donation requests for the Costa Mesa community
- Employees that are especially passionate about giving back to the community are given leadership and project management training to become volunteer project leaders. Once they are trained, they are empowered to lead an employee volunteer project from start to finish
Started in 2010, the Vans Trashquatch program helps our skate and surf shop partners reduce their big footprint. Each summer, skate and surf shops organize clean-ups at local beaches, community parks and skate parks. Vans provides recycled trash bags, reusable water bottles, hats and other giveaways to encourage participation.
In 2017 we supported over 100 clean-ups at beaches and skate parks across the country.
Our Street Sole program keeps our employees inspired and our company connected to our community by living our purpose of enabling creative self-expression. We’re working every day to reach beyond Vans and impact our communities in positive ways.
We’re strengthening Street Sole by:
- Encouraging and celebrating creative self-expression through Vans Custom Culture
- Creating new and innovative ways to enable creative self-expression, beyond donations
- Connecting our employees with their communities by building our Vans Gives Back program
- Creating innovative ways to increase employee engagement in every capacity of our sustainability mission whether design, process, giving back or participation