Building an Eco-Friendly Business - Suzanne Harrison Home
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Running an eco friendly business

Building an Eco-Friendly Business

A while back I asked my husband, “So what do you do that’s good for the environment?” and he said, “Nothing!” Say what? I thought he’d say something about recycling, eating organic, shopping at Goodwill, etc. This was not the answer I was expecting. But I think he’s right.

Because really, what is good for the environment?

Recycling isn’t good for the environment, it’s just not as bad as not recycling. Buying organic food or driving an electric car or shopping at the thrift store – same thing – those choices are just be less bad.

I looked up the definition of “eco-friendly” and got: Not harmful to the environment.

But is not harmful the same as friendly? Shouldn’t we be using the term “Eco-harmless” instead? Or eco-not-as-bad? But the definition for “eco-friendly” goes on to say: Living or practices that help conserve resources like water and energy, and that prevent contributions to air, water, and land pollution.

Humans need water and energy to live, I know, but how much do we really need? Couldn’t we can still live really well and use a lot less water and energy then we do? We just need to care, do the best we can, and choose some good alternatives.

An Eco-Friendly Business

It is a major goal of mine to make my business as eco-friendly as possible while still producing top quality items that don’t cost a fortune. So here are the choices I’m making with my business in an effort to be less harmful to the environment.

Eco-friendly Robot Screen-Print on Wood

Peace Robot – Screen Printed with Water Based Ink on Reclaimed Wood Scrap

Linen Fabric

The only fabric I use is 100% natural linen, which is grown without irrigation or chemicals. It isn’t dyed or bleached and it’s recyclable and biodegradable. In fact I wrote a whole blog post on how great linen is. I love it so much.

Non-toxic Ink

I only screen print with water-soluble non-toxic ink, and I make sure I clean my screens thoroughly, putting all the unused ink back into the container to minimize the amount going down the drain.

eco-PUL Fabric

My roll-top lunch bags are lined with waterproof eco-PUL fabric, which is 75% polyester, but claims to be non-toxic and eco-friendly. However, I would love to find a more natural feeling waterproof or water-resistant alternative.

Made in the USA

The amazing pillow inserts I use are synthetic down, which I buy directly from a manufacturer in Georgia. They are made with a polyester fill and a cotton cover, and while they are not made of 100% natural materials, no geese were harmed in their making, and they didn’t have to be shipped all the way from China. Did I mention that they are amazing? OMG.

Recycled Paper

My greeting cards are all printed on 100% post-consumer waste paper. What, pray tell, does that mean? Well, post-consumer is waste is produced by the consumer (you and me) and collected and re-cycled instead of going to the dump. Pre-consumer waste is the scrap created in the manufacturing process. like the scraps at a paper mill. A product does not need to contain recovered materials to be recycled, and may be made from pre-consumer materials.

Biodegradable Non-Plastic Sleeves

I found some amazing eco-friendly clear sleeves for my greeting cards from a company called Clear Bags. Yay!

Reclaimed Wood

I love screen-printing on wood, and for my wood wall art I use birch wood, which is considered a sustainable wood source, and I usually grab it from the scrap piles at the lumber store.

Paper from Recycled Cotton T-Shirts

Whenever I do a craft sale I go through a ton of business cards. So many that I’ve been thinking of not providing them any more and instead just presenting all of my business card info on a sheet that can photographed. Anyway, I recently had to re-order some and was so excited to see that Moo has business cards that are 100% Recycled and made from cotton t-shirts. And they’re beautiful!

Minimal or Recycled Packaging

Because I have so many products in so many shapes and sizes, I just don’t feel right buying throw-away bags or boxes for every variation. So instead I wrap my items in recycled kraft paper, or pop them in a recycled paper bag from the grocery store.

Keeping the Thermostat Low

Living is Seattle, we don’t get much extremely hot or cold weather, which minimizes the energy needed for heating or cooling our homes. But the damp cold in the winter-time can be bone-chilling! So we have the thermostat on a timer that pumps out the heat in the morning when everyone’s getting ready to start their days, and again in the evening when everyone finally gets home, until bed-time. Otherwise it’s at 55 degrees. I’m the only one home during the day, but either I keep moving and/or layer up.

Working at Home

Lucky me, I get to work from home which means I rarely drive. And living in Seattle means that so many places are in walking distance. So I get some exercise and save money at the pump. Win win!

So this is where I’m at, and this is just a start. There are so many more things I’m sure I could be doing in my business and in my life. But I believe that the first step is caring about being eco-friendly, and the next is following through. I’m excited to see how much more I can do!

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