Kahtoola, creator of MICROspikes and NANOspikes footwear traction announced its certification as an Innovator/Silver Level business from the Sustainability Alliance. Certification within Arizona is based on the Sustainability Alliance’s four scientific principles of a sustainable society including a reduction of non-renewable energy and materials, a reduction of pollution/waste, and a commitment to protect ecosystems while meeting human needs.
Kahtoola’s environmental commitment began with the company’s founding in 1999 and the subsequent launch of a grant program that provides 1% of annual sales to support indigenous cultures and fund projects that improve communities, healthcare, education, resources and the environment.
During the past two decades, Kahtoola has also implemented projects locally to reduce their environmental impact at the company’s Flagstaff headquarters. Projects have included a building remodel to add windows and skylights that maximize natural light and reduce energy consumption. The addition of solar panels supplies 100 percent of the company’s daily energy requirements. A new basement warehouse ventilation system efficiently maintains clean air and proper heating throughout the building. And to reduce emissions, Kahtoola tracks Scope 1 and 2 emissions from fuels it burns, and electricity used and is working to calculate Scope 3 emissions in the immediate future which includes employee commuting, air travel, shipping emissions and beyond.
On the production side, Kahtoola relies exclusively on ocean freight to reduce emissions on products manufactured overseas. A redesign of pallets and warehouse racks has increased the number of units per pallet. “With these changes and some planning adjustments we were able to decrease our shipping volume by 36 percent,” said Kelly Slutz, shipping associate for Kahtoola. “We can now get more units per shipment, but overall receive less shipments.”
The majority of greenhouse gas emissions from ground packages sent from Kahtoola’s warehouse are offset with carbon neutral shipments through UPS that are paid by Kahtoola. An onsite repair shop allows customers to easily return products for repair to extend their lifecycle. Any non-repairable parts are disassembled and recycled through a local metal recycler with plastic pieces sent to TerraCycle. Kahtoola also minimizes design process waste by creating 3-D printer prototypes in house to eliminate the frequency of shipping prototypes to outside vendors and implements recyclable packaging, natural and 100 percent recycled materials for their marketing giveaways in addition to reusable signage at events. “Whenever we go to trade shows, we always commit to zero single-use plastic,” added Slutz.
As the company continues to grow, it has implemented protocols for measuring environmental impacts while encouraging employees to lead the charge. “We are expected to hold ourselves accountable for our contributions to the company, and build support from others where coordination is needed to put ideas into action,” said Betsy Harter, customer service associate for Kahtoola. “Called the Associate Model, it supports associate empowerment and initiative. This model has allowed Kelly and I to create our roles as sustainability project leaders within the company.”
For more information on sustainable business certification in Arizona, please visit Sustainability Alliance.