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Our Culture -
Sustainability Driving Innovation
We believe deeply in the potential of corporate culture to be a positive, uplifting force on the planet. As a result, we are always looking for new and better ways to operate in harmony with our planet.
After a multi-year initiative to optimize all manner of recycling, repurposing, and upcycling, we are now a proud, zero-landfill manufacturing enterprise, thanks to active leadership from our Sustainability C4um (an employee & passion-led group, embodying our C4 values), and engagement by our entire employee community! And, that doesn't mean our journey towards becoming an even more sustainable organization is over. As one of the drivers of our business decisions, our Green Initiatives - Conscious Sourcing, Conscious Waste & Conscious Resource Consumption - continue to expand and accomplish extraordinary things.
- We will never purchase endangered species wood, or buy from protected forests.
- We use eco-responsible materials wherever possible, leveraging the best of what’s sustainable and recycled for our moulding (e.g. bamboo, reclaimed barn wood & fence board, felled plantation trees, finger-joined scrap wood from domestic lumber mills, etc.).
- We offer wood materials that are certified as sustainably managed, whenever possible, which means that the wood we consume is more like the farm yield from a rotating crop — and the crop gets replanted for later yields.
- We only offer aluminum moulding from domestic suppliers, because America’s EPA standards for the mining and production of aluminum are far more environmentally protective than anywhere else producing the same materials for our customers’ needs.
- We purchase domestic moulding, whenever possible, because of the superior carbon footprint that comes with buying materials Made in the USA (not to mention the fact that, quite frankly, we’d rather keep these jobs in America).
- The paper used in our catalog comes from sustainably managed forests, certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, our office paper and other print collateral have a percentage of post-consumer content, and we’ve even added a new paper choice to our Print & Frame Shop that’s made from naturally sustainable bamboo (it makes for beautiful prints, by the way!).
- In our quest for greener packaging materials, we co-developed and tested a new (black) bubble wrap with a 50% minimum of post-consumer content, which is also more easily recyclable after being used (lacking the typical nylon content, it can be recycled like a plastic shopping bag), comes in larger rolls than the traditional quantity, making for fewer cardboard cores to recycle, and is now available to all the clients who purchase from this vendor (yay – epic win!) – at essence, our perpetual quest with these materials is to find the most environmentally friendly materials, while using the most recycled content available.
- One of our latest efforts to source consciously is our new salvage project, where we hand-dismantle century-old, American barns (in some cases, these may even be a hazard to the landowners, or their animals, due to structural instability issues), retaining every component for upcycling use as picture frame moulding and more. For a peek at some of how we’re making these materials available, check out our Kentucky Barnwood collection.
- We recycle and/or upcycle as many of the ingredients of doing business as we can (aluminum, cardboard, acrylic glazing, bubble wrap, office paper, gently-used equipment, moulding scrap and pallets turn into mulch, etc.) – in fact, we increased the number of items that are recycled to 14 different raw materials and their by-products – in the last two years, alone, we’ve been able to reduce waste per order by 66%!Even items like obsolete computer hardware are recycled at specialized environmentally responsible centers, or reconditioned and donated for new found use.
- A “send it forward” project has us remailing & repurposing as many of the boxes we receive, as possible, because maintaining the original shape lengthens the life of that box, before the recycling process shortens fibers, preventing it from being recycled more than 6 or 7 times (bonus: in the future, we may even make it possible to look up a tracking number and see where a box has traveled!).
- What we can’t use or recycle, is donated to schools, art programs and non-profits that can take advantage of the material as building blocks of creativity.
- We’ve added a “Freecycling Center,” so that our employee community's gently used personal goods, have a home for re-use (Spring cleaning, anyone?).
- Our Outlet Frame Center is another outgrowth of our commitment to being eco-responsible, as it not only makes overstocks, end runs and returned frames highly accessible to our creative community in the Piedmont Triad, but it prevents these items from going into landfill.
- To raise green awareness and promote cultural change, our Sustainability C4um stakeholds events throughout the year, from “Trash Mobs” (based on flash mobs) to Earth Month celebrations, and beyond.
- To decrease the number of trash hauls and carbon emissions, a new trash compactor and can crusher means we're using fewer trash bags & reducing trips to the recycling center (plus, there’s that ever so satisfying *crunch* sound you get, when you crush a can!)
- An expanded relationship with a local ink & toner fulfillment company that refills and recycles ink & toner cartridges, ensures they don’t end up in landfill.
- We take electronic waste, batteries and other toxic household rubbish like CFL light bulbs to special processing locations, to prevent them from leaching into our soil & groundwater, and we make this service available to our work family, so it’s easy to make conscious choices.
- None of the by-products created in printing our beautiful, award-winning catalog, including excess paper, end up in a landfill – everything is recycled, thanks to our selection of a certified Green Tier partner, who produces it.
- Thanks to these combined efforts, along with others, we have achieved our zero-landfill goal, repurposing the very small amount of waste that remains into energy or materials used to make concrete (now, how cool is that?!?)!
- A campus expansion that’s underway, is also a microcosm of our green commitment. From the recycling of all demolition materials (7000+ lbs of unnecessary overhead wiring, donation of plumbing fixtures to our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore, etc.)… to the addition of energy efficient windows & the planned installation of solar tubes for natural lighting… to the use of 50% post-consumer content flooring, environmentally engineered bathroom fixtures (thank you, waterless urinals!) and LEDs for outdoor lighting… all our decisions for this new space, are filtered through the prism of being light on the planet.
- In an effort to reduce energy waste and pollution, we’ve increased volume purchasing & improved scheduling, because fewer shipments mean less carbon emissions.
- We recently replaced our HVAC units with the most energy-efficient ones available anywhere, and installed a new white roof, designed to be heat reflective and eco-friendly (which means using even less air conditioning during those many warm months, here in NC!). Additionally, it was installed to be solar-ready, to support our ability to transition to solar power.
- To bring down the energy consumed by lighting, we switched to T8 lighting (a more efficient type of fluorescent), replaced all incandescent lighting with high-efficiency (LED or CFL) bulbs, added skylights over our break area to further increase natural light, and installed motion sensor switches in common areas to automatically turn lights off when no one’s there. We’ve also just completed a lighting-focused energy audit on our warehouse & secondary storage locations that will help us save almost 64,000 watts/year.
- To consume less water, we replaced our toilets with high efficiency, low water use units, and produce our catalog where water conservation system filters reuse the water needed for the printing presses (let’s hear it for “gray water!”).
- Our Technology Team implemented a computer power-saving plan, to support our efforts to use less energy – last estimates have our computers using half as much electricity as the previous year.
- Our shift to a paperless payroll saves about 472 lbs. of landfill space, 10.7 metric tons of gasoline carbon emissions, 395 lbs of paper carbon emissions, 17,000 gallons of water, 95 reams of paper, and 5 trees, per year.* (* based on 165 employees (which does vary with seasonal or project surges), calculated through the “Green Payroll Calculator”)
- The printing of our catalog actually helps clean the air – not pollute it, thanks to state-of-the-art pollution control equipment used during the printing process.
True progress comes from collaboration, so we welcome your insight on how we're doing and how we might do even better. Contact Us!
As of April 2015, we achieved our goal: nothing from the manufacturing of your order ever goes to landfill!
President, Geo, enjoying our 2015 Piedmont Paw of Approval Award for outstanding sustainability innovation bestowed by regional Polar Bear Keepers.
It's COOL to be Green. Energy-efficient HVAC units installed on our new heat reflective roof.
Our most upcycled frames made from fenceboard and barnwood.
Even our bubble wrap is green! (Made from a minimum of 50% recycled content.)
Our Sustainability Motto - Words to live by
Keep calm & recycle on.