I try to tread lightly on the earth in my personal and business life. Here’s my eco-report card for you to peruse…
Trash & recycling
Businesses can make a lot of trash. However, there are easy steps a business can take to reduce, reuse, recycle!
- designs using low-waste principles (basically, I try to use all fabric in final products, so nothing needs to be thrown away)
- donates scraps to Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse & fellow textile artists to use
- recycles all plastic, cardboard, posterboard and metals (that are allowed in Pittsburgh)
- throws away only about 1 kitchen sized bag of trash every 2-3 months for anything can’t reuse, or recycle.
- Shipping envelopes contain up to 30% post-consumer paper, or plastic.
- I reuse cardboard boxes when I can, or recycle them
- recycled fleece is made with up to 89% post-consumer, or post-industry materials and can be re-recycled indefinitely.
Did you know that 6,333,000 tons of clothing and footwear get thrown away every year in the U.S (http://www.planetthoughts.org/?pg=pt/Whole&qid=1944,)?! Much of what gets thrown away is made poorly and with an intended short lifespan. Or, consumers change styles and people are not sure what to do with the items they don’t want to wear anymore.
To counteract this many eco-savvy entrepreneurs have developed durable item designs and recycling programs. In my studio, everything is made durably using industrial quality materials and machines and has a long lifespan. I still wear the original pair of Xmittens I made in 2006! If you do decide you need a new pair to match your favorite jacket, get a hole in your current pair, or somehow royally stain them, you can send them back to me and I can re-recycled them! Find out more about the Xmittens recycling program here. You will get a discount for a new pair as my thank you for participating in the program.
Materials & Sourcing & Labor
An extremely important element of running an eco-friendly business is how, what and where from a person sources materials for what they make. There are environmental impacts most consumers do not think about, as well as human rights issues. Here’s how Amber Coppings Designs fares in the scheme of things:
ACD buys organic and/or recycled as much as possible and sources 95+% of all materials from U.S made companies and raw sources.
I choose to use Procion Mx Fiber Reactive Dyes which are highly colorfast, easy care and use low amounts of water to dye with. Also, after 24 hours, a dyebath can be poured directly into a sewage system, or septic system to be processed the same as any other laundry waste. This is unlike many, many other industrial-strength dyes.
Two items in the Summer 2012 line were made in Indonesia (the Romance Tank and the Strappy Sundress). You can find out more about the factory that made these items on Dharmatrading.com’s website here. Scroll near the bottom for the info.
Did you know that the average screenprinted sweatshirt goes around the world 7 times before it ends up in a store? (Sustainable Fashion & Textiles by Kate Fletcher)
If an item is sewn by my studios it is dyed (when made of non-fleece), cut and sewn by me Amber Coppings savings tons of fabric from being shipped all over the world to different factories to be completed. I have hired a few independent contractors who live in Pittsburgh to help create elements of a design (cut fabric, or sew on buttons). Currently, I work with a poet and a performer. I like to support other creative professional whenever possible and pay them a fair, living wage!
I donate to
the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse (money and materials)
POWER (women in recovery)
Persad Center (LGBT counseling services)
Over the years, I have volunteered to teach workshops through the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Society for Contemporary Craft, and other community organizations. In total, I have taught over 150 workshops.
On a personal level: I also compost all food scraps (and am starting to dye fabrics with the compost! more on that later…). I’ve also been a vegetarian for over 23 years which is a lifestyle that also supports a light tread on the earth.