Dr. Martens is an extremely popular company that has been making shoes for over 70 years. Their trademark boots began as the working man’s shoe, aimed to provide comfortable support and durability while on the job. However, the company has evolved to now aim to give people a sense of individuality. Over the past few years, these shoes have become more and more trendy, as you’re bound to see them being worn by someone when you leave the house. These boots are well known for their practicality, style, and comfort, once they’re broken in of course. But does Dr. Martens practice sustainability as they contribute to one of the most popular fashion trends we see today?
Dr. Martens is off to a good start, considering their manufacturing process, however it’d be great to see changes in their materials and more solidified goals on how to improve their company’s sustainability. They are on track to becoming much more sustainable, as long as they meet these goals that they have set for themselves and keep moving towards more sustainable material.
Dr. Martens states on their website that their classic 1460 leather boots are made of mostly leather and PVC. The company is a part of a Leather Working Group (LWG), which “aims to raise environmental standards throughout the leather industry”, and in 2019, over 95% of their leather came from LWG certified tanneries. LWGs are “assessed on energy consumption, waste management, water usage, air and noise emissions, health and safety, chemicals management, effluent treatment, and the traceability of material”. Dr. Martens is also a member of the Animal Welfare Group, which aims to improve the conditions and practices within the leather supply chain. Leather is still not a very sustainable material, as the tanning process contributes greatly to global warming. Modern-day tanning is very toxic, using a large amount of chemicals that are harmful to both manufacturers and the environment. Overall, their leather manufacturing, though not ethical or practical, is somewhat sustainable as Dr. Martens buys from LWG certified tanneries.
Dr. Martens also uses PVC in manufacturing their boots. On their website, they do not talk much about PVC because PVC is a durable and convenient plastic that contains many harmful chemicals. Furthermore, in order to make PVC usable, plasticizers are added and contain even more harmful chemicals. PVC plants are located in lower-income communities and affect POC working in those communities, meaning that Dr. Martens plays a role in being complacent in environmental racism.
Dr. Martens upholds a standard of sustainability within the manufacturing process. Their website states that more than 95% of their UK sites are supplied by renewable energy, their UK offices, manufacturing facilities, and distribution centers are zero waste to landfill, and their UK distribution centers have received a Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) rating of ‘Very Good'. BREEAM is a reliable evaluation tool that is required by most authorities. This rating means that Dr. Martens has passed more than 55% of the benchmarks set forth by the BREEAM. These benchmarks are determined on the basis of energy, health and well-being, innovation, land use, materials, management, pollution, transport, waste, and water. They seem to follow strict protocols during their manufacturing process in order to ensure that they are reducing their damage to the environment.
Dr. Martens is dedicated to cultivating a diverse and welcoming environment for their employees. Not only do they hire regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, and religion, but they also are working to close the wage gap between men and women. They also offer psychological services and assistance to employees who feel that they may need them. They are a company that advocates for mental health and have pledged to maintain their business as an open space to talk about mental health without judgment. They also follow strict health and safety codes to keep their employees in good health. They are also do not condone child labor and will not hire anyone below the age of fifteen in their facilities.