Today, Chronology officially joins ~1,200 eco-conscious businesses as a member of One Percent for the Planet (1FTP).
1FTP is a network of businesses that pledge 1% of their sales to nonprofits. Specifically, nonprofits that are protecting, restoring, and improving the planet we all live in.
1FTP also provides a way for consumers to identify and support businesses that share their values. 1% of sales--as opposed to profits or other metrics--means the consumer also knows exactly how much is being contributed.
Many personal reasons.
I originally chose to manufacture in the United States because I wanted to minimize harm. We have strong environmental and labor laws here, and domestic production should have the lowest carbon footprint. Respecting these issues that I care about means I can go to sleep at night feeling good about my impact on the world.
Now, we're switching to a new factory in Brazil. My agent assured me that they meet the same strict environmental and labor standards. And even though the goods are coming from further away, they are coming by sea. Ocean freight has a lower carbon footprint than trucking.
Since I first announced the change in factories, I actually haven't heard a single objection to it. That's kind of surprising because we're on the internet, and you know how the internet can be =P. It seems like you guys all understood the move as necessary to develop and deliver shoes at a faster pace and a higher quality. Joining 1FTP is not a response to a backlash, as there hasn't been a backlash of any kind, and I submitted my membership application before I decided to change factories.
Rather, joining 1FTP is a response to my own desire to do more. When I first started this company, I wanted it to not only minimize harm, but also maximize value. Not just between myself and my customers, but with the world at large.
Back in 2012, I had this lofty idea for a Paleo ranch resort. We would have a herd of cattle, managed with rotational grazing, a la Joel Salatin's Polyface Farms. The wildlands would provide a healthy diet of grass to the cattle, and the cattle would rejuvenate the wildlands by turning the soil with their hooves and fertilizing the soil with their manure, as nature intended.
Guests would come to play rustic golf, hike, snowshoe, ski, soak in hot springs, unwind, and recharge. We'd have our own Crossfit box and yoga studio. Our resort restaurant would serve the freshest grass-fed beef (because it comes from our very own herd), as well as local wild game and organic produce. The hides from the cattle would provide leather for our shoes.
4 years after having this idea, and this dream is still so far away... Never mind trying to source leather from grass-fed cattle. I spent 2+ years just trying to get another color of leather! Oh, reality...
I'm not happy that we're still a part of the industrial beef system. But we're still not at a size where we can exit that system. Well I don't want to wait until we get that big. I want to make a positive difference now.
With more people on the planet and more technology than ever, we affect change at an unprecedented rate.
For me, concern for the environment was less about protecting cute animals and beautiful vistas, and more about human quality of life (although I can certainly appreciate those things, and respect those who champion such causes). I'm personally more interested in improving everyday things that affect everyday people: clean air, clean water, clean food, and economic opportunity.
We can make life better or worse. Let's make life better for everybody. Yourself included =)
The first nonprofit that came to mind was Heifer International. I have a soft spot for sustainable food, because it addresses multiple issues at once.
Is there another great nonprofit that would be a good fit for us? Let me know in the comments!
At left is a typical dress shoe, same size and same Wide width. You can see that it is still 1 or 2 cm longer than ours. Most sleeker dress shoes have a fair amount of unoccupied space in the front. We took advantage of that and used it to give you a wide toebox without looking like it. Dress shoes get even longer if we start looking at chisel-toe and pointy-toe styles. But even though these conventional dress shoes are longer, you still feel cramped because of the heel lift and the fact that their shoes are widest at the ball of the foot. Ours are widest at the toes, as a foot naturally is.
Regarding groundfeel, Chronology's outsole is 4mm thick, with another 4mm of leather and cork between that and your feet. The polyurethane we use for the outsole was selected for durability, which is more important than groundfeel in a shoe like this. The 2-part (polyurethane + leather/cork) design allows for the shoes to be resoled like good dress shoes and unlike most minimalist shoes.