“No one will protect what they don’t care about, and no one will care about what they have never experienced” -Sir David Attenborough
I did not always care about the natural world, at least not enough to make a change in my lifestyle. I have been privileged over the past few years to experience various environments and species that few people have the chance to see or even know exist. It is my firm belief that Earth does not exist for humans, yet we are perhaps the species with the greatest impact and therefor responsibility.
I have been very focused over the past few years on finding the absolute best packaging in terms of eco-friendliness. While I am always learning and discovering new options, I finally feel this is something I have nailed down. In 2021, I now move my focus to the environmental impact of the products themselves.
I have started this year off by creating a system to analyze current products and products that I consider for the future. I unfortunately don’t have access to all the information about how all the raw materials for my products are produced. So, with that being said I came up with 5 criteria for eco-friendliness in my shop that I think does a pretty good job of starting to analyze this.
For a possible score of 100% we have:
Is it made of recycled materials? 20%
Is it a natural material? 20%
Is it renewable? 20%
Is it durable? 20%
Can it be repurposed/recycled at the end of its life? 20%
It’s not perfect, but is better than ignoring the issues altogether :)
Here are how my current products score…
While I continue to sell the stock of my enamel pins and vinyl stickers, I would love to find alternative options for these or transition to new exciting products with a higher eco-score.
Something I think many of us don’t think about is that plastic is a fossil fuel, and a non-renewable resource, that requires destroying ecosystems to create. Many fabrics we use today are made of plastic: Acetate, polyester, nylon, lycra, and spandex. These fabrics leech micro-plastics into water systems every time they are washed. While I don’t think we have yet found perfect alternatives for all of plastic’s uses, I am working towards eliminating any virgin plastics from my shop. The first step I took towards this was the elimination of fleece blankets and sweatshirts in 2021. I hope in the future to offer alternatives that incorporate renewable or recycled materials.
I often call myself a one-woman-show, as my workday typically consists of me in my studio, painting, printing and shipping. However, it really is bigger than that as I rely on other companies and individuals to manufacture and print the mugs, and totes that I sell. One of my priorities as a business owner is to be responsible about the choices I make and their impact on both the environment, and the people working at companies I choose to partner with. I'm constantly thinking of ways to do better.
The packaging of items I fulfill myself like prints, stickers and pins is 100% recycled and/or recyclable/biodegradable. Even the bioplastic sleeve prints come in is made of plants! This means that anything that leaves my hands and comes to you, is effectively ZERO WASTE!
Mugs + Totes
My Mug/tote makers have locations in US, Latvia and Mexico. Employees enjoy paid time off, healthcare benefits, and a safe and friendly work environment. Each facility has implemented corporate social responsibility initiatives, like LED lighting and recycling programs for paper, plastic, and glass. All ink waste is disposed of to meet environmental regulations. We also donate damaged products to charitable organizations.
When you receive one of these items, it is printed on demand, which means that there is no extra inventory I have sitting around (better for the environment), but it also means I don't have control over the packaging. Heres what my printer has to say about their packaging.
"We try to do our best to minimize waste in packaging and source eco-friendly packaging materials. Many of our packaging materials are either recyclable or biodegradable. Bubble wraps are made from a minimum of 15% recycled plastic and 10% post-consumer content. Our kraft tubes are made from 70-100% post-consumer recycled content and 0-30% secondary recycled content."
Pet Plushie Fabric
The company I use to print my fabrics for tea towels is located in North Carolina. They compost much of their waste, and use biodegradable inks with a printing process that uses minimal water and energy. Scrap fabrics from misprints are recycled to be used as stuffing in car upholstery and sewing projects for charity among other things. Their packaging is also recycled and recyclable.
- All products that ship from my studio are packed in fully recyclable/biodegradable/reused materials.
- I am committed to transparency about how eco friendly my products are.
- I have eliminated virgin plastic-based textiles from my shop products.
- I am actively looking for alternatives to current products that don’t meet my standards of eco-friendliness.
- I am vocal with my suppliers about ways they can improve the packaging of their eco-friendly products that arrive to me with non-recyclable plastic.
If you have any questions or concerns, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org