Earth Day was this past Monday, April 22. As an eco-friendly business with noted 'green' practices, we at Studio 26 feel a special tug on our heartstrings for the day dedicated to planet, reminding us of the efforts we have already made to make the world a greener, cleaner place, and the environmental challenges we have yet to overcome. We can take pride in our living green wall, the green products used every day in the space, and the non-toxic equipment we boast for our trainers, but further, we revel in the accomplishments of other businesses who have made similar dedications to the preservation of the environment, and will continue to think of ways to match their impressive and important commitments. In honoring Earth Day, Studio 26 shares the commendable work of businesses and friends that are committed to the environmental cause. Gary Hirshberg, "CE-Yo" of Stoneyfield Yogurt, recently published "Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World," a book that chronicles the trials and tribulations he has endured while founding his own company. Hirshberg shares the hard lessons he learned in striving to make his company profitable while simultaneously keeping the environment at the forefront of all decisions. Additionally, Hirshberg proves that taking the eco-friendly route can help a business increase their revenue, not necessarily compromise it. In an excerpt from this book, Hirshberg gives examples of this mindfulness in the founding of his own company, debunking the theory that implementing green practices is more expensive and yields no monetary gain. He states:
"In business, you can manage energy use to great effect. You can determine exactly what you're spending on energy for every product made or sold. And that's what we did. We installed good insulation and switched to energy-saving light bulbs. We replaced old wasteful oil burners with new boilers that use natural gas and have sophisticated controls. Our local utility, which offers efficiency credits, gave us a rebate for building a refrigerated cold-storage building with extra-thick walls that keep cool air in and warm air out. From 1995 to 2005 we increased our efficiency, saving more than 46 million kilowatt hours. That's enough to power 4,500 homes for a year and prevent some 14,000 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. The savings go directly to our bottom line: We're $1.6 million wealthier on this item alone."
Hirshberg's approach is also exemplary in a sociological sense. He details his methods of marketing that not only reward customers for their ecologically conscious consumerism, but highlights a shared commitment between provider and consumer that is grounded in care for the earth, and provokes honest dialogue. In the early days of his company when sensationalism was not quite in style, Stonyfield was "printing yogurt lids with provocative, politically charged messages; handing out thousands of free samples to subway commuters to thank them for using public transit; and devising the country’s first organic vending machine." This company's efforts demonstrate a sense of the environment that goes beyond solar panels, Hirshberg is pioneering a manner of inspiring and incentivizing his customers' purchasing of his products in a way that both informs and rewards.
Eco-friendly industry exemplars like Hirshberg and Stonyfield Yogurt are easier to find than you would think. Outdoor equipment retailer Patagonia has made public the ecological consequences of fabric dyeing, particularly in outsourced locations in the Far East. In an "Environmentalism Essay" on the Patagonia website, author Vincent Stanley corroborates the loss of many potable drinking water sources and the chemically pollutive textile industry. He states,"It takes a [textile] mill about 500 gallons (1,893 liters) of water to produce enough fabric to cover a couch. To grow the cotton, then weave and dye the fabric for a single Patagonia pima cotton shirt uses over 600 gallons – the equivalent of a day’s drinking water for 630 people. And fifteen years from now, between a third and half the world’s population will live in an area plagued by drought. Though these statistics are staggering, Stanley says "Facts can take a while to sink in." The clear necessity to protect the earth's freshwater sources has been in crisis for many years, and while foundations' donations, individuals' actions, and governmental laws are actively considering the cause, quite simply, there is so much more to be done.
Patagonia shares the story of Swisstex, a dyeing company that has found eco-friendly ways to produce products that are rich in color but low in toxins, and whose process does not expend excessive amounts of water. Stanley writes, "Computerized controls keep water usage to a minimum: just enough is used to run the pumps. Swisstex expends half as much water as an average dyehouse in the U.S and again, 80 percent less than the average Asian dyehouse. A state-of-the-art wastewater heat recovery system enables them to use wastewater energy to preheat incoming cold water, and water is recycled as many times as possible." Again, the statistics are staggering. Not only does Swisstex operate eco-friendly, but they are based in Los Angeles, have reduced the finishing chemicals required for textile dyeing by 80% over competitors, and are equipped to work through orders just as efficiently, no matter the size. Patagonia boasts their involvement with the company as a part of their regular dyeing supply chain, the colors that make signature Patagonia pieces so vivid.
These two companies are exemplary. There are many others in the world who join their ranks with their commendable assessment of the earth's maladies, and the plans and processes they put into action to make those maladies less prevalent and intense. While it may seem as though we, as individuals, are powerless to make this kind of lasting, strong impact, we can continue to do our part in supporting these great businesses that in turn do the kind of great work we aspire to achieve. Eat yogurt, wear fleece? Perhaps.
Blog by Emma Judkins