Friday, October 29, 2010

Turtlebug Goods and the Planet

This is part of a series of blog posts concerning my business plan as well as my outlook on how I want to run Turtlebug Goods. Expect more of these up until - and beyond - the intended launch of the company! There is a relatively new theory in business planning and organization called the Triple bottom line - people, planet, and profit. This deals with planet.

Turtlebug Goods and the Environment

Sustainability. Its practically a buzzword used in business to show that a plan will work and that it will last forever - especially when the environment is brought into question. But how do companies really affect the environment? Every industry does so in a different way with different materials. Jewelers use natural resources such as metals, minerals and rare gems while photographers use chemicals to develop their pictures. As for paper goods, the culprit is in the name: we produce products made out of paper, and paper is made out of trees. It sounds pretty hopeless once you think about it. After all, these are only the raw materials, and doesn't take into account the many tools needed to package and finish a product. But there is some good news: it is getting better, and business owners are getting more access to recycled, lower impact products now than ever before.

To state it simply: Turtlebug Goods wants to use resources efficiently and with as low of impact as possible. However, we acknowledge that where we are is not where we want to end, with the desire to make measurable progress in the years ahead.

Tools and Materials

Turtlebug Goods wants to minimize environmental impact as much as possible as soon as possible. Currently, all products will be printed on paper that is at least 30% post consumer content. As time goes on, I plan to up that until it is eventually at 100% recycled paper. I wish I could say that I could start with 100% recycled paper, but that is not economically feasible, unfortunately, at this time. However, the great news is that not only does paper biodegrade quickly, but it is also recyclable. All scrap paper will be collected and either recycled at a facility, or else made into paper by me to be used in products.

I acknowledge that a small business has a lot of competition and resistance when it comes to finding affordable but environmentally sound tools to use. However, the scale of operations works in our favor over large businesses, in that there is no large office that needs extra power for lighting and comfort control, nor is there as much in the way of large machines that require resources and so on. There are also tools made with home businesses and the environment in mind. For example, the paper cutter I will use (pictured above) has a trimmer base made of 100% recycled resin. My printer is Energy Star compliant, and Canon (the printer's manufacturer) is working on full certification with ISO 14001, and fortunately has many sites already in compliance as seen here [pdf]. Printers leave a lot of waste in their path: packaging, handbooks, and most of all - ink cartridges. These will be recycled at the nearest location.

Efficiency: The "4.25" Principle

Waste not, want not. A lot of paper can be wasted just by trimming something down to fit. Turtlebug Goods has gone to great lengths that packaging, envelopes and paper are used as efficiently as possible with minimal waste. This includes choosing product dimensions. Products are designed to intentionally to use up the entire piece of material when making the product. In the case of the primary offering, greeting cards and note cards, they are sized to use the most of a standard 8.5x11 piece of paper: two cards per each sheet. As other products are introduced, they too will be sized accordingly. The printer to be used is wide format and can feed a variety of sizes, which will be utilized to support this principle. Not only does this keep us from wasting inordinate amounts of paper or other product, it also is a more efficient use of company capital.

Efficiency is very important, especially since greeting cards can use up massive ink and paper resources. Unlike large manufacturing facilities, we are in a unique position that allows us to print only when a sale is made. Designs are stored on virtual drives and then printed when an order comes in. This allows customers to choose colors or wording, adding value to the card. On top of this, it allows us to keep stock levels low (only model cards will be printed and kept on file for posterity), conserve space and conserve paper. Its a winning situation for all parties involved.

Evolving Principles

Turtlebug Goods does not intend to stop at this point and consider it the most efficient mode of business or efficient use of valuable resources. Over time, the environmental statements will evolve to these principles:

  • Increase post consumer content in paper until it is at 100% post consumer
  • Be more efficient in ink and paper usage as needed
  • Decrease recyclable waste


This is it! What do you think, or what are you doing to help the environment?

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