Payless ShoeSource, Customers and The Nature Conservancy Partner to Raise Money to Plant 100,000 Trees to Help Rebuild Atlantic Forest
TOPEKA, Kan., April 13, 2009 — Just in time for Earth Day, Payless ShoeSource and The Nature Conservancy today announced a partnership to raise money to plant a minimum of 100,000 trees to support the Plant a Billion Trees campaign dedicated to planting 1 billion trees by 2015 to help rebuild the Atlantic Forest in Brazil. As part of the effort, today, Payless is launching a Green BOGO(TM) (Buy One, Get One Half Off) sale to partner with shoppers to raise money for the important cause. Payless will donate $1 -- the cost to plant one tree -- for every Zoe & Zac green brand item sold through May 4 and on every Payless exclusive reusable shopping bag sold throughout the year.
Payless said it has committed a minimum $100,000 contribution to The Nature Conservancy, which equates to 100,000 trees planted in the Atlantic Forest, but that it expects consumer interest to be high for the products and the cause, resulting in a potentially larger contribution.
"We are thrilled to team up with The Nature Conservancy and our shoppers on this important global cause and to create the Green BOGO to support the planting of, at minimum, 100,000 trees," said LuAnn Via, president of Payless ShoeSource. "The timing is perfect -- together we can celebrate Earth Day with the launch of our Zoe & Zac green brand and help support the Plant a Billion Trees campaign. Through May 4, every Zoe & Zac item sold represents a newly planted tree -- every pair of shoes, handbag, necklace, or pair of socks -- as well as our reusable shopping bag through the end of the year. With this unique program, and the participation of our eco-minded customers, together we'll help restore the Atlantic Forest and create a stronger future for our planet."
Tropical forests are often called the "Lungs of the Earth," storing enormous amounts of carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen in the never-ending cycle of life, helping regulate the atmosphere and stabilize global climate. The Atlantic Forest, among the largest tropical forests in the world, has been degraded to only seven percent of its original size through such activities as coastal development, urban expansion, agriculture, ranching, exotic plantations and illegal logging.
"Our Plant a Billion Trees program is critical to restoring the Atlantic Forest and so far we have already planted 1.5 million trees," said Amy Golden, acting chief marketing membership & philanthropy officer for The Nature Conservancy. "This partnership with Payless is unique to our effort and is a first-of-its-kind for our organization to join with a mainstream retailer. We are thrilled to team up with Payless with its wide-reaching store chain, its engaged store associates and loyal customer base to work together for our cause and to help restore this important tropical forest."
About Zoe & Zac, and the Payless Reusable Shopping Bag
The Zoe & Zac green brand, just launched today in 1,000 Payless stores nationwide and Payless.com(R), is the first-ever affordable green line of footwear and accessories. Created to democratize green footwear and accessory products by making them affordable and accessible and to bring eco-consciousness to the mainstream, the new brand will launch with the Spring Collection featuring eight women's footwear styles, two handbags, three girl's shoes, as well as a range of jewelry and socks -- all items available for under $30 each.
The Zoe & Zac products are green because they are made from eco-friendly components and materials such as organic cottons and linen, natural hemp, recycled rubber outsoles, eco-friendly-EVA cushioning, and water-based glues for the shoes. Natural materials like dyed Tagua and Acai nuts are incorporated into the jewelry. The product packaging is eco-smart as well, utilizing 100 percent recycled shoe boxes and soy-based inks for the printing.
Zoe & Zac products are also unique in the green footwear category because they stress a fashion-first, "invisibly green" approach, featuring key trends of the season such as popular silhouettes, colors and styling details. The Zoe & Zac tagline is "fresh green fashion"(TM) and the collection will be seasonally updated about four times a year to ensure the latest on-trend looks.
"The most common misconception about sustainable fashion is that it comes in one color and looks one way -- neutral, boxy, baggy, shapeless," said Summer Rayne Oakes, Payless' eco-consultant helping to deliver the new line with strong fashion and sustainable innovation. "The best sustainable fashion is invisible and that's what Zoe & Zac is all about."
"I am thrilled to be a part of a brand that is changing the face of green fashion by making it affordable, invisible and philanthropic to support our planet."
Also as part of Payless' plan to support the Plant a Billion Trees campaign, beginning today through the end of the year, Payless is offering an exclusive, stylish reusable shopping bag for $1.99 to shoppers in more than 4,000 stores in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, and will donate $1 from each bag sale to the campaign. The bag features a chocolate brown and lime green leaf print and is made from a minimum of 50 percent recycled polyethalene (PET) -- the primary material in plastic water and soda bottles. The reusable shopping bag is fully philanthropic; Payless will donate 100 percent of the net profits from bag sales to the Plant a Billion Trees cause. The reusable shopping bag is not covered under the BOGO sale.
About Payless' Giving Programs
Since 2004, Payless has established formal programs to support important causes by selling unique items and making them accessible with affordable price points and then partnering with shoppers by donating a 100 percent of the net profits from item sales to a cause. Through such programs, Payless supports breast cancer awareness and is a member of the $1 Million Council with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization. The company also celebrates Black History Month and Hispanic Heritage Month by establishing the Payless Inspiring Possibilities Scholarships with the National Urban League and Hispanic Scholarship Foundation, respectively, to support the higher education of America's minority youth. Payless supports inner city youth in New York City with its Friendship Shoe program, with proceeds benefitting the Fresh Air Fund, which provides free summer vacations to underprivileged children living in the New York area.
For the Holiday 2008 season, Payless launched Payless Gives Shoes 4 Kids, a first-ever national, grass roots initiative to give $1 million of free shoes -- through $15 gift coupons -- to American children of families in need. The company took a unique approach to the giving, partnering with more than 630 non-profit organizations across the nation, which distributed the free shoe coupons. This approach was important to directly reach those in need, to support localized non-profits and to ensure strong coverage in every state and the District of Columbia.
The Payless Green BOGO and the support of the Nature Conservancy's Plant a Billion Trees campaign is another example of Payless' philanthropic programs. For more information on the Plant a Billion Trees campaign go to www.plantabillion.org.
About Payless & Collective Brands, Inc.
Payless ShoeSource, Inc., a unit of Collective Brands, Inc., is the largest specialty family footwear retailer in the Western Hemisphere and is dedicated to democratizing fashion and design in footwear and accessories and inspiring fun, fashion possibilities for the family at a great value. As of the end of fourth quarter 2008, the company operated more than 4,500 stores. In addition, customers can buy shoes over the Internet through Payless.com(R) at www.payless.com.
Collective Brands, Inc. (NYSE: PSS) is a leader in bringing compelling lifestyle, fashion and performance brands for footwear and related accessories to consumers worldwide. The company operates three strategic units covering a powerful brand portfolio, as well as multiple price points and selling channels including retail, wholesale, ecommerce and licensing. Collective Brands, Inc. includes Payless ShoeSource, focused on democratizing fashion and design in footwear and accessories through its more than 4,500-store retail chain, with its brands American Eagle(TM), Airwalk(R), Dexter(R), Champion(R) and designer collections Abaete for Payless, Lela Rose for Payless and alice + olivia for Payless, among others; Stride Rite, focused on lifestyle and athletic branded footwear and high-quality children's footwear sold primarily through wholesaling, with its brands including Stride Rite(R), Keds(R), Sperry Top-Sider(R), Robeez(R), and Saucony(R), among others; and Collective Licensing International, the brand development, management and global licensing unit, with such youth lifestyle brands as Airwalk(R), Vision Street Wear(R), Sims(R), Lamar(R) and LTD(R). Information about, and links for shopping on, each of the Collective Brand's units can be found at www.collectivebrands.com.
About The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. To date, the Conservancy and its more than one million members have been responsible for the protection of more than 18 million acres in the United States and have helped preserve more than 117 million acres in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and the Pacific. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
About Summer Rayne Oakes
Summer Rayne Oakes is a model-activist and spokesperson, resident expert, and youngest board of advisors for Planet Green, Discovery Network's new eco-lifestyle channel. The Cornell University graduate and environmental scholar has received media accolades including from Vanity Fair naming her a Global Citizen, Outside naming her one of the Top Environmental Activists, Cosmopolitan naming her Fun, Fearless Female of 2007, and CNN's Nicole Lapin nominating her as a "Young Person Who Rocks." Through her work as a consultant Summer Rayne advises companies and organizations, and works on sustainable development and environmental programs in the U.S. and abroad. In February 2009, she released her first book, Style, Naturally: The Savvy Shopping Guide to Sustainable Fashion & Beauty published by Chronicle Books. Her most recent role as consultant is with Payless ShoeSource as Eco-Consultant for the company's Zoe & Zac green brand, where she helps the company find innovative ways to create "fresh green fashion."