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Everyone likes to think of themselves as at least kind of green, right? What about you? Almost everyone recycles these days, maybe you stopped using plastic bags when grocery shopping, and carry around your own water bottle now instead of using plastic ones. But when you run a business, especially the type that uses as many materials as a screen printing company, it’s easy to watch your waste quadruple in size without really knowing how it happened. So we decided to start having sustainability meetings every two weeks, observe our habits, and really start to ask ourselves how we can be better.

We also want to make the process as helpful and transparent as possible, so we’re going to document it here on our blog. We’ll update you every two weeks after each meeting, and let you know what we’re thinking, what our action items are, and most importantly – if it works. Any successes we have we’d like to share with other shops to help the practices catch on, cause let’s face it – if the head of the EPA doesn’t believe in human-driven climate change, we all need to crank up our responsibility by 300%. So here’s what we came up with on day one:

Our biggest goal for the first day? Start small. Leave the meeting with specific, manageable action items we can put into effect immediately, and assign each person a task. Then move up from there each meeting.

1. Recycling – We definitely recycle, but like everything else, we know we can do better. Everyone can. It’s sadly common that recycling companies have to throw entire bins of recyclables away simply because the items haven’t been properly cleaned or sorted, and we don’t want to be that guy. So first, we’re starting by contacting the garbage and recycling company to see if they can send us any guidelines on what we should be recycling and how. We are also going to purchase 3 more bins, one for the kitchen to replace the tiny one we have that fills up too quickly, and two to put back in production since we’ve realized that many of our printers do not walk all the way to the bin in the kitchen to recycle properly.

2. Signs – We’re going to make detailed signs for all three recycling locations that contains the info we received from the recycling company to be sure everyone else has friendly reminders to help us do the best that we can.

3. Dishes – We already have a bunch of Barrel Maker mugs for coffee, but we’d like to take it a step further by purchasing real dishes and silverware to replace all disposable cutlery, cups, and plates that we normally purchase several times a month. This will also probably result in another sign reminding people to wash their dishes after they use them, cause you know, we’re not their moms.

4. Looking forward – We are also going to take the next week to observe how the misprint shirt flow occurs from beginning to end, and come to the next meeting with an overall process for us to discuss and amend so that we are more effectively re-using our shirts. We already use misprints as rags for cleaning screens, but we’d like to go past this and find an even better way to recycle and maybe reuse the rags as well. We also agreed to think on a better way to organize our ink dump buckets to create a recycled ink color, and maybe find a way to donate or market shirts to charities and organizations for free using this ink as well as the extra shirts we have lying from years of running our company. But, more on that after our next meeting.

Our next meeting is Thursday, 10/12, and we’ll send over more updates then! In the meantime, stay green folks!

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