Greetings! Today, I am showcasing another sustainability rockstar from one of Zappos’ favorite brands. Below is my interview with Laura Schaffer from Mountain Hardwear. Please read, share, & enjoy!
Social & Environmental Responsibility Manager at Mountain Hardwear
What's your favorite thing about your job?
LS: I love the importance of collaboration and the huge opportunity for potential. How many positions really get to work across the business and multiple industries for that matter? To be successful in a sustainability role, collaboration is absolutely imperative. Knowing that the work that we’re doing will be far more powerful if we work as a team rather than individuals is a gift and a hugely important part of this job.
The other piece of this job I’m really driven by is potential – the potential for change, the potential for discovery, the potential to bring out the best in people and the business. It’s hard not to wake up charged when we have the opportunity to design the trail map and we’re the ones setting the route. I get to find challenges and then build solutions through a lens that brings a different dimension to the brand. By doing this, we’re moving the business forward by giving people the opportunity to do the work they want to do.
Who or what is your biggest source of inspiration?
LS: I am so inspired by people who are 100% themselves. People who don’t bend because society tells them to, but instead introduce new ideas and concepts because they aren’t afraid to think differently. Family has embodied a lot of that for me – my parents introduced me to the joy of learning and that the idea that challenging the norm is the norm. My sister has taught me what real friendship is, and my husband’s sticky notes around the house that say, “limits are negotiable” are a constant reminder that there is no reason to be stuck.
And kids. There’s no group out there as honest and open as kids, right? Watching my nearly one-year-old daughter discover life is the coolest thing. It is a constant reminder of just how amazing and special this world is, and it really helps me appreciate the simple things in life like leaves fluttering in the wind.
What do you do to stay motivated and energized?
LS: Mountains, mountains, mountains. Run, climb, bike, ski, take deep breaths, scare myself, laugh out loud, discover new, share with others…the mountains are definitely my happy place. Mountains are the ultimate source of energy for me. It’s where my mind is the clearest and I can think in ways that are hard to when stuck in a bubble. There is also great value to seeing the way other people interact with the mountains. There is so much to learn from each other.
On that note, people keep me motivated and energized. Specifically, talking to people. We are in a world where it is very easy to put your head down and forget to look up. Progress won’t come from staring at your computer, instead the solutions will come from ideas that come out of real live conversations with other people, whether it’s someone you talk to every day or the random person on the street corner. That’s where the real power comes from.
Both mountains and people make me keep my eyes open and pay attention, and that’s what keeps me going for more.
If you could be an animal, what would you be?
LS: Monkeys seem like they have a good deal of fun swinging through trees and throwing coconuts in beautiful places, I could be into that.
A little bit more about social & environmental responsibility at Mountain Hardwear:
Since Mountain Hardwear was born in 1993, they have focused on building reliable, long-lasting products that people can build memories with. The gear they make is built to be the adventurer’s best friend. It’s reliable, it performs, and it lasts. With that foundation, four key values drive Mountain Hardwear’s sustainability strategy – Social & Environmental Consideration, Outdoor Conservation, Community and Empowerment.
They use the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Index to help measure, track and improve the social and environmental performance of their products. They work with suppliers that share their values of fair and ethical treatment of workers and sustainable manufacturing practices, and they have teams of local specialists who work with manufacturing partners toward continuous improvement.
Their employees are inspired by a 100% solar powered workplace on the San Francisco Bay, LEED certified retail stores, industry partnerships with groups like Conservation Alliance and OIWC, 40 volunteer hours and the GO Program that rewards people for being active in the community. These are only a few examples of the work Mountain Hardwear is currently engaged in, check out the full picture at http://www.mountainhardwear.com/sustainability.html.
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