Greening Up Your Art/Supply Business – A Checklist
Mary Beth Beuke - WestCoastSeaGlass
You’re like many conscientious, artsy people. You care about the planet and you have a growing desire to run an ecologically responsible company. You’ve probably made a few changes but are ready to do more.
The handy checklist below was recently put together by the U.S. government to help business owners get started and I’ve included examples of how these steps can move your art supply business continuing toward your “greener” pursuit. Whether you’re managing a multi staff company or a one-person craft room, most steps can be used by all of us. If you can’t tackle all 10, consider focusing on 3 or 4 for starters. Even the baby steps make a difference.
First, let’s consider the advantages. Greening up your small business can:
• Reduce costs
• Attract customers
• Keep the environment healthier.
• Enhance productivity.
• Build a positive image.
1. Comply with environmental regulations: Each and every industry has its own set of environmental regulations. Before you start exploring ways to go green, start with the basics. Make sure your company is working in compliance with your particular industry’s regulations.
2. Develop an environmental management plan: Is your workplace and craft area energy efficient? If not, jot down an action plan, share it and model it with those around you. Post your mission (but only if you’re really doing it) on your blogs, your websites and at your art shows.
3. Buy green supplies: Your company or craft business consistently uses a few, same products on a very regular basis. Begin the process of “greening up” your supply purchases. Be patient, and spend a couple extra minutes searching for more ecological supplies. Going green is on the increase across the globe, so products are getting easier to find all the time. When shopping for everything from packaging supplies to jewelry metals to light bulbs we always seek out the most ecological products we can find first.
4. Conserve energy: My coworkers and I are coffee heads. But after 9:30am once everyone’s arrived and coffee’d up, we shut the coffee maker off – otherwise it would stay on until noon. When you leave your workroom(s), turn off printers, lights, computers, monitors (and don’t forget the speakers if they have a separate switch) whenever they aren’t being used.
5. Prevent pollution: Every person produces waste and so does every business. For example, limit postal runs to cut down on gasoline emissions. We used to make a special trip into the post office daily. Now we’ve consolidated that to just three times a week when one of our employees (who has a less polluting vehicle than mine) takes the packages to town on her way home from the studio. I did the math. With that one change, we are conserving almost 9 gallons of gasoline a month. That’s a significantly less amount of pollution!
6. Create a green marketing strategy: Use the internet and email invites more and printed flyers and mailers less. When you do print, use soy ink and recycled paper stock. Market your events and shows with others who are vending also. I belong to a group of thirteen local artists and instead of each of us putting out our own individual flyer about the same event we put out one page which features each of us.
7. Recycle wastes: Most companies already do this. Put your recycle receptacles in an easily accessible locale. I sit with a simple 9x11” sized box between my desk and the other designer’s in my studio. Anything paper that’s recycle-able goes in. And remember, nothing is too small to recycle. We cut a lot of our own jewelry display cards and even the ½” scrap margin strips are dumped into the recycle bin. Recycle packaging materials. Recycle metal scraps. Now there are companies that you can ship your scrap metals to at no charge.
8. Conserve water: Use the new gadgets that are out there like low-flow faucets in your work spaces or other hardware that can save your company money in the long run.
9. Join industry partnership and stewardship programs. Do some research on affiliating your company with organizations that donate funds or time to ecological causes. Find an organization that’s congruent with the industry or supplies you’re involved with. My ocean-related business belongs to a non-profit organization that donates thousands of dollars annually to shoreline restoration groups. This is something that your customer public would want to know about and makes for a positive marketing point for you.
10. Build green: Any time you start a new larger project from scratch, including buying equipment, furniture and storage space etc., make sure you start with greener products; lighting, printers, appliances, even shelving.
Mary Beth Beuke is collector, artist and owner of West Coast Sea Glass, a full time seaglass jewelry company in the Pacific Northwest. Her Etsy supply store is: westcoastseaglass. She works out of two studios and with a small, part-time staff of 4.