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Help Make Lima Even Greener

Posted by Kevin on September 03 at 08:13 pm

Ali & I have always tried to make environmentally friendly decisions at home and at work. I asked our landlord if he’d consider installing solar panels on the roof of our building and he just laughed at me. Oh well – there’s plenty we can do on our own.

Feed Me

Feed Me

A few years ago, we replaced all the light bulbs in our office with new energy efficient compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs. We went from 27 regular bulbs at 75 watts to 27 energy efficient bulbs at 9 watts. That’s asavings of 1782 watts! To put that in perspective, most toaster ovens draw about 900 watts, so the energy we’re saving could power 2 toaster ovens all day long – that’s a lot of toast. One note, be sure to recycle these bulbs properly, they contain mercury! Some stores, like Ikea, now offer drop-off stations.

We recycle everything. Boxes, paper, containers, plastics, everything! Recycling is a big deal in our city. “Recycle Ann Arbor,” started in 1978 as Michigan’s first curbside recycling service. We’re a really small business, but the amount of waste we generate is amazing. If we didn’t recycle, I can’t believe how much we’d be contributing to landfills. Because of all the recycling, we’re usually able to limit our trash to one (very full) bag per week.

More than half of our team either walks, bikes, or rides the bus to work. We encourage this by providing a bus pass for anyone that wants it and we’ve got bike racks right outside the front door. We have programmable thermostats to make sure that the heat and A/C don’t run when we’re not here. We shut down our computers every night. We use environmentally safe cleaning products.

Update: Steve’s bike was stolen from in front of his apartment! He is driving for now, until he can buy a new one :(

Man, he loved that bike

 

Even after all of this – I still feel like there is more we can do. I want to tell you about a couple of ideas we’ve had recently. Please add comments if you have any input!

Packing peanuts

We’ve recently switched to a more flexible Styrofoam peanut because they’re more durable. Our thinking was that since most of our customers ship things, they could reuse these peanuts. The old, cheap white ones crumbled after their first use, making them more likely to be discarded. Do you know of any packing peanut substitutes that are more environmentally friendly?  It’s a tough issue because the beads we ship are fragile and we want to make sure they get to you in 1 piece. However, even though these new peanuts can be reused, we know they eventually end up in a landfill and that’s not ideal.

Packing slips

For every order we ship, there’s an average of 3 sheets of paper inside the box. This is not only a waste of paper, but also the energy required to print the sheets (laser printers are very power hungry). We’ve been considering not sending these sheets with the orders. The packing slips for each order are available under the “My Account” section of our web site.  Ideally, they would never get printed because they can be viewed on the screen, but if you wanted to, you could of course print them on your printer. Not printing them would save a lot of paper, a lot of energy, and a lot of waste. What’s your opinion? Would you miss the printed sheets?

Thanks for reading! Together, I hope we can make beading the most environmentally friendly hobby. We should get a little competition going with the knitters and scrapbookers. We shouldn’t have a problem with the scrapbookers – they use a ton of paper!

Read the comments (or add your own)

  1. Matt
    Matt says:

    You know I appreciate my bus pass!

    I love taking the bus to and from work everyday. Not only do I save a ton of money on gas and parking, but it’s environmentally responsible as well.

    The only times when taking the bus can be kind of a hassle is when I’m running late. Yesterday, I missed the bus after work and ended up walking home in the pouring rain. It’s about 3 miles from work to my apartment. Needless to say I was soaking wet when I got home. :)

  2. Bonnie R
    Bonnie R says:

    Packing peanuts – try using paper. Its very recyclable. I like your bubble wrap, that I reuse. The peanuts are a hassle to store.
    packing slips – try printing double sided. This would take a printer which would do double sided, but the printer will be more engery effecient.
    P.S. there is a store that gives a rebate for every empty toner cartridge brought in for recycling.
    Question – how much energy are you saving by turning the computers off at night?
    sorry about the rain – understand it well – but most of here at work live more than 20 miles away. We do flex hours and try to comute with the others at work. A Conservation District worker kind of thing to do.

  3. No Photo
    Lisa V says:

    Have you tried the packing peanuts that are made out of cornstarch and dissolve in water. When I get finished using them I put them in my flowerbed or yard for fertilizer. I don’t know that it really helps the flowers but I know it’s not ever going into the landfill.

    Bonnie R made useful comments both about packing and packing slips. I do get tired of having so much bubble wrap around, but shredded paper could be recyled in many ways (mulch, packing, cat box, animal litter, etc) and I would just put in the paper recycing if I had no other use for it.

    I do get really irritated when a packing list is not included or it has nothing on it except numbers–no useful info and I have to go back and look everything up!!!! I don’t have time for that and it wastes energy if I have to keep turning on my computer.

  4. No Photo
    Lesley W says:

    Thank you so much for being Green! An idea for the packing slip would be to give the customer an option of yes or no. Or what about printing on 2 sides?
    Packing peanuts – These are too difficult to store and impossible to recyle. I like the corn starch ones or shreded paper and then there are also inflated bags made of recyclable plastic.

  5. Emily R
    Emily R says:

    I like shredded paper myself. I use it all the time. The less money I spend on wrapping means more money for presents-who can’t appreciate that? You can even make your own by running the last bits of wrapping paper through a cheap paper shredder. You can’t lose.

  6. No Photo
    Rainbow Chick says:

    I was just about to send you guys email about the peanuts… and here is a blog! Where I live there is no good way to dispose of them. I like the paper idea, but why shred? That takes energy. I get packages with crumpled paper that ship well. I smooth it out and easily store it till needed. My cat uses some of it for toys and bedding, too. Thanks for being green!

  7. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    Wow, thanks for the great suggestions. I hadn’t considered the corn starch packing peanuts — what do you think Lima Beaders, would you dissolve them in water?

    We used to have a double-sided laser printer but the thing was a nightmare! It jammed constantly. I will have to look into these to see if they’ve improved at all.

    Bonnie – we definitely recycle all of our toner cartridges, although we don’t get any rebates, I will have to check into that!

    Thanks again. If there are more ideas out there, we’d love to have them.

    Kevin

  8. KPJEWELS
    KPJEWELS says:

    popped popcorn makes for ideal packing and it can then be placed into the compost bins

  9. Pam E aka funky tulip
    Pam E aka funky tulip says:

    yes, I’d water the cornstarch peanuts, but crumpled up paper is jsut as good. A few other thoughts — I ordered 10 Stampt pieces the other day, adn each came in its own plastic bag, inside another one. Any way to put them all in one? I did it as soon as I opened everything.
    thinking about sustainability beyond your four walls — do you have a sense of the business practices of your suppliers? are the beads “fair trade”? I love the new Stampt beads and pieces — do we know if they’ve made any attempt to “green” their practices? Metalplating is notoriously bad for the environment. just a few thoughts — thanks for thinking about this!

  10. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    Pamela, we definitely make it our business to know everything about the practices of our suppliers that we can. Late last year we heard about a factory in China that was not providing an acceptable level of indoor air quality for its employees. We began to investigate and found that some of our stones were being cut in that factory — so we immediately discontinued the stones and ceased all dealings with that factory. It’s really important to us that from start to finish, our products are supporting a healthy environment and a healthy workforce.

    One of our favorite things about Stampt is that all of the manufacturing (and plating) is done in the U.S. and falls under all of the rules and regulations of the EPA. It also makes it possible for us to visit them and lay our eyes on the process.

    Eep – I love the idea of popped popcorn. The advantages could be 2-fold — a little butter and salt and we could snack while we pack :)

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