Last February, etnies announced its first Buy a Shoe, Plant a Tree (BASPAT) project in Costa Rica. For 2012, BASPAT is now expanding to tackle the devastated rainforests of Brazil. Much of the rainforest destruction has been a result of clearing and burning land for farming and from urban growth.
In 2011, with every pair of the company's Jameson 2 Eco shoes sold, etnies pledged to plant a tree in the rainforest of Costa Rica's Maleku reserve. Throughout 2011, the project gained enough support at retail to successfully plant all pledged trees with the help of La Reserva Forest Foundation.
"We were just informed by our partner in Costa Rica ... that all 35,000 trees we committed to for that region have been planted," said etnies owner and BASPAT creator Pierre-Andre Senizergues, 47. "It felt good to have the very first project that Buy a Shoe, Plant a Tree did, officially completed!"
The Brazilian iteration of BASPAT follows the same "1 for 1" methodology of 2011, where each pair of designated shoes (Jameson 2 and Jameson 2 Eco Men's and Kid's shoes; Girl's Caprice Eco and Circe Eco) sold plants a tree in the rainforest. And, as in Costa Rica, the company will work with indigenous groups. The company has pledged 100,000 trees in Brazil and planting begins March, 2012 in an attempt to "reverse deforestation and protect the environment on a larger scale," according to the press release.
"In Brazil, only seven-percent of the original Atlantic Rainforest remains," explains Senizergues. "That's a startling number! When we found out the grave situation this region of the earth was facing, we knew that we needed to do something to help.
"What's unique about this project is that with our partnership with Trees for the Future, we are able to work directly with different schools in the São Paulo region in Brazil. They have programs set up with junior high and high school aged students who can enroll in a class and get the chance to learn about the rainforests, cultivate seeds and help replant portions of the forest as part of a larger educational program.
"These students get to plant the trees [Ed. native Moringa trees] that other students across the world purchase when they buy one of the ... shoes. We were very excited about the educational aspect of this project because the more people who are aware of what's going on in our rainforests, the more people can do something to make a difference."
etnies supports athletes in skate, snowboard, surf, moto, and BMX and team riders traveled to Costa Rica in 2011 to help launch the project: "We brought Ryan Sheckler, Kyle Leeper, Chris Del Moro, CJ Kanuha and Benji Weatherly down with us and they had the chance to experience the Maleku tribe's culture of being the guardian of the trees and their gratitude to us for helping be a part of reforesting their land," recalls Senizergues. "It was amazing to see the transformation on our riders' faces when they realized their impact on this project and how they could make a difference by helping us spread the word."
Footwear supporting the Buy a Shoe, Plant a Tree project is available at retailers worldwide and on the company's web shop.