A recent post over at Crafting a Green World got me thinking about my own business practices. And, as Kristi from Wrapsody observed on Facebook recently, we all have to make choices that balance sustainability vs cost in our own lives, and it sometimes means making difficult choices.
I, too, have to balance green ideals with costs, and with the need to make a profit. I also have to balance that against my mission to keep cloth diapers affordable. There are too many $20 diapers out there!
So, here’s a few of the things I think I do Good:
– Minimize printing. I really only print invoices (receipts) and shipping labels. Shipping labels are printed 2/page.
– Reuse all paper that comes into the office. Paper that’s been printed on only one side becomes paper for the kids, either for art or for school, or I use it for scratch paper. Paper that’s been printed on both sides, or the one-side paper that’s been drawn or written on, gets shredded and those shreds become bedding for the animals.
– Minimize energy useage. Our dehumidifier is energy star certified, as is our space heater. We don’t have A/C, and we don’t have any sort of central heat in the basement. That said, the basement is pretty good at temperature regulation on its own.
– Use green materials and green suppliers where possible. This is such a balancing act, particularly with materials prices skyrocketing in the last year. And it’s not as cut and dried as it appears. Hemp is generally considered to be green, but it must be shipped here from overseas because domestic hemp production is illegal. Some consider Bamboo to be green, but in addition to the shipping issue, there’s the chemical-laden process of turning it into fabric. I try to tread a path here that gets me acceptable levels of “green” without adding tons to my cost.
– My office is pretty green. My own desk was purchased new, and I guess my sewing table was also purchased new, but considering that they’re both pretty old by now, I think they get green creds. (desk: 8 years, sewing table: 15 years). Wally’s desk was picked up from Craigslist, and my cutting table (a piece of wood on top of two filing cabinets) had been a fixture in my parents’ home since at least 1984. I painted with leftover paint from other projects, and many of my storage shelves and bins are repurposed.
– I try to be as energy efficient as possible. I lanolize wool covers here in large batches, for example, instead of having customers lanolize them one at a time in their own homes. I sew in bulk when possible. I turn things off. I open the windows when it’s nice; insulate them in the winter.
– I upcycle, repurpose, and use up my scraps. I only throw away teeny tiny bits of fabric. I re-cut most of my scraps into smaller products: baby shoes, wipes, breast pads, cycle pads or cycle pad bags, or even appliques. Scraps of fabrics that are too small for me to use are passed on to other crafters. I also turn old stuff into new stuff, most notably sweaters, which are turned into longies, shorties, skirts, and pants.
– I think I get some Green Cred for just the nature of the products I make, most of which are meant to replace single-use, disposable items with reusable, washable items.
– I don’t commute, lol. Heck, I rarely leave the house. The postal carrier would be coming to my house anyway and there’s a UPS drop box across the street (to which I walk with your UPS packages). I use very little gas for the business.
– I recycle things I can’t reuse. Many of our recyclables are actually re-used in-house by the kids for craft projects. What we can’t reuse, we recycle.
What I Don’t Do:
– I do not use recycled paper. I buy office paper when it goes on sale, and my prices for unrecycled office paper on sale are roughly half of what I would pay for recycled paper when it goes on sale.
– Use organic fabrics. Regular cotton is pretty expensive right now. Organic cotton is MUCH more expensive. I cannot convert to all organics without at least doubling my prices. I’ll write more on the possibilities of adding an organic line in a separate post.
– Use recycled ink cartridges. I’ve tried, and I’ve tried to refill, and the printer goes into spasms. It’s kind of old and I’m nursing it along.
– Believe every “environmentally friendly” claim that comes along. I’m so skeptical, I end up researching most things before believing them. And most environmentally friendly claims are shaky at best.
How do YOU make choices between eco-friendliness and cost?