Climate Action

An Interview with Head of Sustainability at Vivobarefoot

Climate Action caught up with Emma Foster-Geering, Head of Sustainability at Vivobarefoot, to discuss the importance of sustainability.

  • 06 December 2019
  • Rachel Cooper

What is Vivobarefoot’s sustainability mission?

To reconnect people and planet through environmentally and ethically responsible footwear and experiences that literally bring people closer to nature.

What is the driver behind this?

Vivobarefoot believe personal and planetary wellbeing is only possible when humans are connected to each other and to the planet. Our sedentary lifestyles are making us and our planet sick. We are at our strongest and most creative when we are barefoot and our senses are engaged

What are the biggest challenges/barriers to achieving your goals?

The biggest challenge is the tension between commercial health and sustainability. As a business focused on regenerating and restoring the health of people through barefoot footwear and the health of the planet through our business practices, we must make money to be in business. To scale our impact, we must make money and grow too. The footwear industry and more broadly our economic society still prioritises economic growth above all else – so we spend a lot of time and energy challenging the status quo on both and coming up with solutions to really complex system problems. Vivobarefoot are truly pioneering being a people and planet regenerative business first, that makes footwear and provides experiences, in an industry of retail businesses that do sustainability second. But if we don’t have a planet to grow on, what’s the point?!

Who and what help you overcome these barriers?

First and foremost are the other organisations pushing the dial on the health of our planet. Everyone from environmental activist groups like Extinction Rebellion to likeminded challenger brands such as Finisterre and Patagonia, are driving the agenda forward and making it easier to exist in the marketplace. Even if our capitalist economy stopped tomorrow it would not solve our climate or biodiversity or plastic crisis and certainly would not improve the collective health and wellbeing of humanity. We believe a collective community of insurgent businesses with regenerative sustainability at their heart are the solution to engineer a future where people and nature thrive as one. This mindset across the global Vivobarefoot community moves us forward.

How do you implement sustainability in your everyday life?

The truth is, the planet is sick and we are getting sicker in it. When you are aware of total failure of Government and big business (oil and gas, chemical, pharma, banks etc) to do operate in a sustainable way, it is easy to see why there is such widespread eco-anxiety in the world. There has been a lot of discussion recently about the concept of Deep Adaptation. In a nutshell, the sooner you come to terms with the reality of our ecological doom, the better you are able to embrace this reality and become free to act without ignorance or fear. The unfortunate reality for me is that I hit rock bottom really early on in life. I witnessed widespread destruction of plant and animal life in Australia where mining companies continue to legally operate in this way to this day. Media companies are in the pockets of the mining companies, the mining companies break bread with the politicians, who are voted by people who are fed lies by the media and so the cycle continues. Working in industry in this way for as long as I have means that the biggest thing I advocate for in my everyday life is communicating the fight. If businesses will only act on sustainability when consumers show they ‘care’ about it – then my single biggest mission is to shout really loudly and to get others to shout loudly about demanding sustainability from Governments and Business.

 

Visit Vivobarefoot's website here.