Sock it to me! Part 2

Nester Hosiery in North Carolina is Icebreaker’s exclusive partner in making socks. Technical in construction with our super-awesome flat-linked toe seam, and incredibly durable yet comfortable, our socks are yet another reason to always have our merino next to your skin.

Dave Petri, sustainability director for Nester, answers a few questions about the sustainability efforts of his company, and the socks they make for Icebreaker:

What does Nester do to be environmentally responsible and sustainable?

Marty Nester, our founder, is an avid fisherman, and Kelly Nester, our president, is an avid hiker and outdoorsperson. The company not only has a desire to do right by the environment, but it also sees that our customers are committed to sustainability.

The first thing we did was develop an Environmental Management System based on the ISO 14001 framework, which allows us to see how and where the manufacturing process impacts the environment. We haven’t decided if we are going to become certified. Instead, we are focusing on minimizing our impacts.

What results have you seen from your efforts?

We’ve set metrics to manage our goals and are working on ways to become more energy and water efficient and generate less waste. We realize that being a zero-waste manufacturer is in the realm of possibility. We currently divert 80% of the solid waste we generate from the landfill. We’re very proud of that. We’re also in a 50-year-old building that presents many opportunities for improvement in this area.

Are you involved in sustainability efforts beyond your sock factory?

We’re involved with the Outdoor Industry Association’s Sustainability Working Group and supported the development of the Eco Index and the new Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Index. In addition, I sit on the OIA’s Sustainability Advisory Council, providing a manufacturer’s perspective for the group.

We also supported Icebreaker and the New Zealand Merino Company’s GHG and water-footprint project, providing life-cycle assessment data from our facility.

Here in the U.S., our football games have four quarters. With sustainability, we know we have to go into the fifth and sixth quarters. The game’s not over in a year. We’ll learn from the failures we have, and celebrate the wins when they come.

Photo caption: The Icebreaker U.S. Sales team toured Nester Hosiery’s factory in Mayberry, um, Mt. Airy, in April 2012. Here are a couple of snapshots Dave tweeted of the sales team watching the Ski Lite OTC being folded and packaged, and learning about the manufacturing and shipping processes for our socks that are sent around the world.