For those of you who don’t know me, Hi I’m Emma and I own a handmade and personalised children’s clothing business called Easterkins. Funnily enough Easterkins is an eco-friendly business, all my fabrics, threads etc are either organic or OEKO-TEX Standard 100, my machines are powered by solar power and my packaging is eco friendly too.
So enough about me, let’s talk about how you can be more eco friendly too!
What can I do to be more eco friendly with my business?
This is a big one, but is actually really easy to improve and work on. I’d recommend taking a pen and paper, writing down all the rooms in your home/workshop etc. Then one by one walk around those rooms and write down everything you have plugged in and turned on at the switch! No cheating here guys and gals!
Now I bet when you’re done you’ll be surprised at how many things are left on! I know I was and when I had solar panels installed I wanted to maximise their potential. Now i'm not saying you must have solar panels to do this, cause frankly you don’t.
So if you look at that list, how much of those items that are plugged in and on at the switch actually need to be? There are some I know which have to be left on, like the fridge! However, I’m sure there are loads that you could turn off like the microwave, the kettle, the TV, the coffee machine, the switch with all your chargers in (unless charging something obviously).
My workroom is in an outbuilding, so unless my parents are in the house, I make sure to go through and check all switches unless essential are turned off. This gets easier as the family will get used to flicking the switch when they’re done using that plug/socket. In my workroom I have 12 sockets, the only ones that are on permanently are the router and the phone, everything else is off unless I need to use it.
Now it’s time to focus on your work area (where you mainly do the work), this one can take a little while, but it can really help you understand what you need to do to reduce your power consumption. Get that list back out and write down everything you turn on, what you used it for and the time and then the time you turned it off, I recommend doing this for a week. Then at the end of the week have a look, which machines did you leave plugged in and turned on, even when they weren’t in use?
It’s pretty surprising how much you forget to turn off, especially when you’re busy!
My typical routine when working on embroidery is:
1) Turn on computer: check orders
2) Turn on heatpress to heat takes about 15-20 mins
3) Prep T-shirt’s for stabiliser to be applied with heatpress
4) Prep any appliqué fabrics that need to have a special backing apply
5) Complete steps 3 & 4 on heatpress
6) Turn off heatpress
7) Turn on embroidery machine
8) Complete all orders
9) Turn off embroidery machine
10) Turn on heatpress
11) Complete finishing touches to embroidery and prepare specialist backing to protect the wearers skin, sweep up loose threads etc
12) Use heatpress to apply specialist backing and ‘iron’ the T-shirt’s ready for packaging.
13) Turn heatpress off
14) Package orders
15) Turn off computer
16) Hoover (note no other switches other than the phone are on)
This looks really complicated but really it becomes a habit. Now I know some of you will be thinking, `What about the lights?’ I’m going to talk a little bit about that now!
Lighting is a big power drain, especially if you’re using old style tungsten/tube lighting! In my workroom the lights are 2 LED daytime panels in the ceiling and they work really well. LED’s are far more efficient and LED bulbs are relatively cheap to get now and my panel lights were about £45 each 3 years ago. If you don’t already have LED lighting I’d highly recommend it.
Heating for me is also bundled in on electricity. I literally only ever turn my heater on if it’s freezing outside, that’s because my heat press usually takes the chill off! My work room is really well insulated, I’ve got polystyrene insulation (not so eco but we have some issues with the terrain etc here) under my concrete floor and on my walls before the plaster board, my ceiling has rock wool insulation, above that is plyboard and on top of that is a membrane followed by a membrane on the bottom side of the roof zincs. All windows and doors are UPVC too. My workroom was an old outbuilding so we had to compromise and work with what we had.
Obviously the insulation makes a massive difference, poor insulation means heat is going to escape really easily and you'll spend more on heating both money and power wise!
So power was a really long section right? That's because it’s probably one of the biggest areas where businesses fail on their eco credentials. I promise the other areas are much shorter!
If you can I’d consider looking at a project to help with offsetting your carbon footprint. I personally use carbon clicks on my shopify and it’s really awesome, on Etsy they already offset the delivery to the customer. However, you can still donate a small amount to a charity working on reforestation or renewable energy projects around the world such as carbon clicks or treesisters.org.
You can ask your supplier if they are able to send your products plastic free or reduced plastic. I know in some situations that’s not possible or harder to accommodate but it could be another way to be more eco. Also ask if they offset their carbon footprint, if so how? Some suppliers have this information readily available on their websites so have a little look.
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