Welcome to another EHS Moment from Encamp… This time I want to talk about two things that don’t even seem to fit in the same sentence: My interest in shoes, and my interest in the environment, sustainability, and lowering the carbon footprint. Because what do shoes have to do with the environment, right? (Encamp is all about protecting the environment through environmental compliance.)

The answer is, thanks to Nike, shoes now have everything to do with the environment an (d sustainability — driven by the lowest carbon footprint their shoes have ever provided.

In July 2020, Nike released its Space Hippie shoe collection, and they were reported at the time to be the lowest carbon footprint shoe ever made. Space Hippies consist mostly of recycled material — yes, they’re literally made of trash! — and Nike offers four models to choose from. (My favorite is the Space Hippie 01, which provides the traditional lace-up with the one-of-a-kind Nike Crater Foam outsoles.)

With Nike leading the way, shoe companies’ efforts towards waste-free carbon neutrality and keeping sustainability at the top of mind is a huge step. Nike says as much with their Space Hippie lineup and the approach they’re taking to producing them to provide a minimal carbon footprint.

“Space Hippie,” as Nike puts it, “is the result of sustainable practices meeting radical design.”

When you take a closer look at Space Hippies, the material the shoes are made of stands out. Overall, the fabric is 85% to 90% recycled, with 50% of that coming from plastic bottles and other plastic waste. Along with recycled plastics, 25% of the shoes’ material consists of old consumer goods, like t-shirts. The remaining material is a mix of Nike yarn or other leftover materials in their factories. It’s a low carbon footprint all the way around.

So that’s the upper half of Space Hippies. On the bottom half, the carbon footprint stays low. The cushion sole is made of Nike Zoom X foam, or what Nike calls crater foam, of which 15% is made from grain rubber. That’s where you get the Nike proprietary mix and little flecks and specks inside the foam, which really stands out stylistically. And as a shoe enthusiast, I think the new Space Hippies are really good-looking shoes.

Yet while making shoes from recycled materials is a positive step for Nike and the environment, it isn’t necessarily a new concept for the global shoe and sportswear maker. To date, Nike has already been recognized for diverting roughly 1 billion plastic bottles from landfills to be recycled for greater sustainable good.

Beyond Nike, other shoe companies are also now escalating their efforts toward waste-free carbon neutrality and sustainability in the materials they use. On that list: Saolo, Indosole, Timberland, North Face, MOVMT, and Nike competitors adidas and Converse, among others. It’s a move in the right direction both for our environment and for the business world itself.

These efforts also reinforce what we always say at Encamp: What’s good for business is good for the environment.

‍Julie Mouton is a dedicated environmental engineer and sustainability practitioner with more than 15 years of experience. So when she agreed to join Encamp’s Women of EHS initiative and discuss her career in an interview, we didn’t hesitate.

More on Julie’s EHS career and its aspects: At Antea Group, she currently supports clients in the food & beverage, technology, oil & gas, retail, and mining industries. She specializes in water stewardship, corporate ESG strategy, operational risk assessment, environmental liability management, and environmental compliance. And outside of work, she enjoys hiking, camping, gardening, water and snow skiing.

But that’s not to say her career hasn’t come without hurdles.

How have you gotten to where you want to be on your EHS career path? “I listened to my inner voice and intuition, and just kept going on the path I knew was right for me.”

Julie has more to say about her rise in the EHS ranks. Watch her video to hear how she’s done it.

Join us!

If you’d like to be part of our Women of EHS initiative, or even to nominate someone you know, see our Women of EHS page.

And if you’d like to work at an exciting company like Encamp, see our Culture & Careers page for open positions. We’re growing!

In 2020, Encamp launched an initiative we call Women of EHS, and I’m honored to say I was one of its original contributors. Ongoing, the initiative’s aim is to highlight women in our industry who’ve accomplished amazing things in their EHS careers — and who continue to do so.

As we say on our Women of EHS web page: “Women from all corners or our industry have great stories to tell. Candid, compelling, illuminating – inspirational. This is their forum to tell them.” That’s why we’re constantly introducing our initiative to other women in the EHS sector, and welcome them to join us and even nominate other women.

Are we “trailblazers” on the EHS careers path? Perhaps, although most women in this industry don’t view themselves that way. For other women like me, we simply believe in protecting the environment, and that what we’re doing is important.

That’s why I made environmental science my career and ultimately came to Encamp. It’s also why I appreciate the Women of EHS “voice” we’ve created.

When it comes to EHS careers for women, Encamp has put women in some of our company’s most strategic roles. VP of compliance and customer success. Director of customer success. Senior environmental scientists. In the small yet growing organization that Encamp is, we might not be trailblazers, but we’re certainly cornerstones.

And within the EHS industry, we’re not the only ones. More and more, women are choosing EHS careers and reaching new heights in our industry. And for our Women of EHS effort, several have already shared their stories. Here’s mine.

My own Women of EHS story

How did you get into the environmental space? A passion / fell into it?

Like many people who’ve pursued EHS careers, I’ve always had a passion for the environment and a love of animals. I began my journey in college at Texas A&M (whoop!) wanting to become a veterinarian, but after two years, I realized that career path wasn’t my true calling. I shifted my focus to studying Environmental Science and haven’t looked back since. I knew immediately I had found my niche. I started my career at an environmental consulting company shortly after graduating.

Did you have any mentors along the way? Anyone you looked up to? Other women in your field or at the company you work for?

I’ve had the honor of working with some incredible, smart, inspiring women over the years, and now I get to work with quite a few of them at Encamp!

As for finding the right mentor, I agree with this approach and have followed it myself.

Source: npr.com, The Right Mentor Can Change Your Career

If you have one trait that makes you excel in your position, what is it?

I’ve found that being a good multitasker and being careful with details has helped me the most. In EHS, it’s a battle to stay on top of everything, with the constantly changing daily scope of tasks. So being able to switch gears on a dime and re-focus my attention has been very helpful for me.

Any challenges you’ve faced? How did you overcome them … or are they still a challenge?

I’ve faced many challenges throughout my career; starting in this industry as a young woman proved to be very difficult. My opinions and thoughts were often overlooked and undervalued. But by working hard, learning to speak up and educating myself on the regulations, I found my own sense of value and self-worth, which inspired me to be an advocate not for only women in EHS but for everyone who deserves to be heard.

Remember, women have a voice, too

Organizations led by male-dominated management teams often lack the fresh perspective needed to tackle certain projects. (This definitely applies in EHS circles.) A mix of different genders and backgrounds leads to greater diversity and overall “better decision-making.” Most companies further admit that women offer more “creativity, innovation, and openness.” So, yes, make your voice heard.

Source: Inc. Magazine, The Hidden Advantage of Women in Leadership‍

What are your thoughts on the future of EHS? Technology or tools … challenges?

The future of EHS is technology and that’s why I’m so excited to be a part of Encamp. I’ve seen so many people in EHS struggle with tracking and organizing information on spreadsheets or using archaic programs that aren’t efficient and prove to be a struggle for team collaboration. Being at Encamp I can see how technology will be an extremely powerful tool to help EHS managers be more efficient and break away from a lot of the struggles they face today.

How can the EHS space improve for women?

We need more women and diversity in the industry and in executive roles. Women need to feel like they can speak up and should be a part of decision making. We have to give women a seat at the table and space to thrive and excel in this industry.

Women boost business outcomes

In a 2019 International Labor Organization survey, nearly 60% of businesses said involving women in decision making “improves business outcomes,” including profit gains of 5% to 20% when more women are in management positions. EHS isn’t necessarily about profits, but making better decisions could sure help avoid a lot of fines for non-compliance violations.

Source: ilo.org, Women in Business and Management: The Business Case for Change

If you could give another woman advice on how to get where you are today, what would it be?

Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself and your opinions. Set boundaries and learn to say no if you have too much on your plate, your time is valuable. Work hard, learn the regulations and know your value.

If you could give your “past self” advice, what would it be?

Stick up for yourself and speak up. Trust your intuition.

Join us!

We’d love to share your Women in EHS story.

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