As America's favorite frog once said, "It's not easy being green." But every effort we can take, no matter how small, is worthy in trying to tackle the biggest challenge of our generation: the Climate Crisis.
Carbon-Offset Shipping and Carbon-Neutral Internet Hosting
In neutralizing our carbon footprint in our primary business activities - hosting a website and shipping orders - our two most critical and impactful partners are our online platforms, which are primarily Shopify, who hosts our website, and Etsy, the "handmade marketplace" striving to "keep commerce human."
100% Carbon-Offset Shipping
Both of our platforms enable us to offer carbon-offset shipping on all orders. Shipping impacts from all of our website and Etsy sales are 100% neutralized.
We joined Shopify's Offset program in 2020, a service that calculates the amount of carbon emissions produced on all our website orders by the weight of the package and the distance traveled, and then charges our account for the carbon credits of equivalent value. Carbon credit projects are determined by the organization Pachama. (As of this writing, our carbon credits are currently benefiting the Jari ParÃ¡ Forest Conservation Project in the Amazon Rainforest.). In addition, Shopify offsets all delivery emissions for every order purchased through ShopPay. (On our website, that includes almost all orders except those purchased using Paypal.)
Etsy announced in 2019 that it was the first major online shopping destination to offset 100% of carbon emissions from shipping. Today, all of the carbon emissions resulting from the orders shipped on its marketplace are offset in equal amount by Etsy investing in projects that reduce carbon emissions. Etsy includes offsets for all sellers and customers.
In addition to our online stores offsetting the carbon impacts of shipping, our low-cost international shipping provider Asendia / LaPoste is 100% carbon-neutral. In fact, La Poste was the first delivery operator in the world to reach carbon neutrality by 2012 for mail, parcel, express and digital services.
100% Carbon-Neutral Website Hosting
These are the sites that enable our sales on the internet: Etsy and Shopify. We're proud to work with Shopify for our website, who prioritizes green operations and in 2020, created a Sustainability Fund.
Both of our marketplace/partner platforms are powered 100% by renewable energy. Etsy has released an ambitious Ecological Impact Plan and has pledged to be Net Zero by 2030, and Shopify's data centers - and therefore our website - are already 100% carbon-neutral. In addition to its carbon-neutral data storage, Shopify has a commitment to becoming carbon-negative, with plans underway for LEED-certified offices and carbon-neutral operations.
Eliminated Single-Use Plastics
In 2019, following the UN guidelines, we embarked on a transparent and singularly-focused initiative to end single-use plastics at all stages of operation at Walnut Studiolo. As of this writing, we have successfully eliminated single-use plastics from all of our packaging and products and we continue to seek out better sources for our operations. (How did we eliminate single-use plastics?)
- We only use full grain vegetable-tanned leather as our main material, not chrome/mercury tanned, which not only provides the structural rigidity that only high-quality leather can provide, but is better for our waterways. Recent research by the Leather & Hide Council using over 25 years of government data has concluded that leather is a by-product of the meat industry and exert no direct influence on cattle numbers.
- All of our leather is sourced from a fourth-generation American tannery. It is exclusively tanned in the USA using old-fashioned methods and in accordance more stringent environmental laws.
- The kind of leather we use - American and vegetable-tanned - is the most sustainable and low-impact leather available. (What is sustainable leather?)
- Whenever it is an option, we choose first, sustainably-salvaged wood from a purpose-driven nonprofit and second, FSC-certified wood.
- Hardware is sourced wherever possible from made-in-the-USA suppliers and low supply miles.
- For shipping, we primarily ship our orders using biodegradable, 100% recycled (up to 97% post-consumer), no-marine-pollution, and compostable no-plastic paper mailers. Secondarily, we use upcycled / re-used packaging of any material that comes through our door and would otherwise be landfilled or recycled, giving it a second lease on life. Thirdly, for international orders, where it makes particular sense to have a lighter-weight package for a lower carbon footprint, we use recycled bubble mailers (minimum 32% post-consumer). (Which is the most eco-friendly mailer?)
- For product packaging, we use only plastic-free, biodegradable, no marine pollution, paper packaging, such as waxed paper for with water-resistance.
Eco Friendly Production
- We use natural materials in our product designs, like leather, wood, and metal.
- We create durable, high quality, and repairable products to prevent landfilling - and sell replacement parts. ("Repairability is the new luxury.")
- In product design, we aim to reduce waste by being as efficient as possible with our materials, including re-purposing waste materials into new product designs, such as our Upcycled Collection.
- We donate our high quality leather remnants to our chosen charity, Help Heal Vets, who uses them to create free craft therapy kits for veterans.
Local Renewable Energy
All of Walnut Studiolo's home and workshop electricity is currently powered by our local rural power co-op, the Tillamook Public Utility District. The majority of Oregon's rural public power sourcing is from the federal government's large hydro projects in the Columbia River. Although they do not produce emissions, they do produce other environmental damages, most especially endangering native salmon.
Although renewable energy options in our rural area are not as robust as they are in cities, we signed up as soon as we moved here for TPUD's Green Power program, which encourages the development of waste methane (biogas) renewable energy projects at our abundant local Tillamook dairies.
We signed up for waiting lists with both Etsy Solar and Tesla Powerwall + Solar and have a goal to incorporate on-site solar onto our rural property as soon as it's available in our rural area.
- In all of our operations sourcing, we look for materials in the following priority order: upcycled/reused, recycled content or otherwise certified sustainable, no single-use plastics, biodegradability, low product miles, and last, new materials.
- We re-use our own waste materials wherever possible in our operations, including refilled ink cartridges and upcycled packaging and shipping materials.
- We are customers of our local re-use charity, SCRAP PDX, where we buy many of our upcycled materials and office supplies.
- We design our retail packaging with an eye towards biodegradability and reusability, to prevent landfilling.
- We support fellow bicycle-based businesses.
- We recycle in our operations and compost food waste in our break room.
- Because of our efforts to reduce and reuse, we are a low-waste business. How low-waste? This one small 32 gallon trash can is rarely filled all the way weekly when combining both our household and business waste:
This post is just an attempt to capture what we're currently doing as of this writing, but we are personally and morally dedicated to decreasing our carbon footprint on a continual basis.