Friday, April 25, 2014

Meaning Business in a Green Way

Earth Day got me thinking about businesses. As a small business owner I knew I wanted to be as Earth friendly as possible. Vintage is inherently eco friendly since it is a good that is being reused, recycled or even upcycled and isn’t adding to the mounds in the landfills. It’s a bonus since you get something really cool with a bit of history. When Jeremy added wood products to the shop we made those products as sustainable as well, using locally sourced reclaimed wood whenever possible.

I’m a small business so I have control over my actions and can pretty easily show my customers my impact on the environment and my community. What about big businesses? How are they contributing to the world’s environmental problems and who is keeping them in check? Individually I strive to create less waste, be less of a consumer and take care of the planet by being as sustainable as possible. I can compost my little heart out, but if the brands I am buying from aren't eco conscious then aren't I part of the problem, not the solution?

How do you know if you are part of the problem or part of the solution as a consumer? Transparency always helps. I recently discovered B Corporation, a non-profit that is helping eco minded companies become transparent by “compet[ing] not just to be the best in the world, but to be the best for the world.” B Corp certified companies are leading in the way in how businesses impact the world by measuring their businesses’ relationship with the environment, community and with their workforce. There are over 900 certified companies that support fair trade, paying their workers above the living wage, are LEED certified and are in a variety of other ways awesome.

Because B Corp is for companies a little larger than a workforce of one, here are some of my local-small-business-owner-friends to tell you how they are eco conscious when they do business.

I’m Joan, the designer/everthing-er from Goodspeed Empire, a jewelry and accessory company.  If I could only be happy and comfortable with that sentence.  

The more I craft and create, the more I feel like I’m contributing to a global problem.  It seems that I’m feeding a machine by buying supplies and making jewelry from unknown vendors.  Do I know if the company I bought the supplies from cares about their impact on the environment?  Do they pay their workers a living wage?  And here I am trying to sell you, the consumer these products.  This is deep stuff man, and I’m just trying to make cute stuff.

With Earth Day and my recent crafter distopia I thought I’d share one of my creations that use upcycling and recycling.  I shifted my thinking: “No I’m not going to run to the store for supplies.  I’ll use what I have and challenge that creative part of me.”  I also asked myself “what’s around that I’ve missed?”  I noticed a resource I’ve until now left untapped.  The trash can.  I work in a costume shop, so the trash can usually has hidden gems.  I can pick fabric out of the trash at my work and turn it into art.  A tiny piece of art that I worked on that you can wear on your body.  I make cuffs, only 2” wide max, with a funky pattern and a vintage button for a closure.  

This is just one idea; one project in which I challenged myself to think differently.  I challenged myself to have as much creativity in the search for supplies as I do when I dream up designs.  What are your thoughts?  What are you doing to be a sustainable crafter?  Share with Nat and myself the fun and funky experiments you have tried using recycled or upcycled items.

As a person living on this planet, I'm already super conscious of ways I can live without polluting the Earth. As a business owner who organizes others for a living, I still do the same. Every time I help another person get organized, we find things that can be donated, recycled and repurposed. Often times my clients are so tired of their clutter that they just want it out of their lives. However, we take the time to separate the items that can be donated, recycled and repurposed. It does take a little bit longer, but in the end, we both have a good feeling about doing the right thing.

Hi! My name is Lindsey and I’m the creator of The Pod Shop (@thepodshop on Instagram). Since I was old enough to wander off by myself I’ve wanted to be encased in nature. I would find little shrubs to lay under and just touch the leaves. Years later I visited Yosemite for the forest time and found myself still huddled under a tree, just touching the leaves. I was so at peace and in love that I could’ve cried. I feel like plants are kindred spirits, and that’s why I gravitated towards the most natural objects for my creations.

Although I plan to expand my shop one day, right now I make artisan jewelry from seed pods and other natural materials. I collect most of these myself, except for the pods that I cannot find in Southern California. They’re gorgeous vessels that would otherwise be picked up by a gardener or smashed back into the ground. Because it’s important that some pods are left to return to the earth, I only collect small batches at a time. After I clean the pods and wipe them with oil, they are mostly left in their natural state.
Of course, not every item I use is natural because I construct with wire and beads. But it’s a priority of mine to reuse beads from old necklaces and to purchase everything else from a local bead store or Etsy. If I cannot use a natural item, then I want to at least support my community. Even then, I worry about not offering more to the world than fashion, and plan to donate a percentage of sales to an environmental charity one day.

Until then, hopefully my customers know that I love the earth and that I’m always looking for a way to take better care of it.

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