January 27, 2020 In Blog
You might already know this, or you don’t and then I am about to tell you all about it:
we at Studio Flash are pretty much hippies. Hahaha.
Yes, we are and always were. Although I may have to explain what we think our self-stated hippie-status is about:
it is about taking care of our planet.
Because we only have one and it would be nice if our own lives and definitely the lives of the ones to come are lived on a beautiful, more or less balanced and definitely green earth.
So that’s why for us one of our key values of our business (and lives o be exact) is ecology.
Since we know we are hippies, and now you know we are hippies, what do we hippies do to put our key value of ecology into practice?
Well, here is our one and only ‘Environmental Manifesto’!
Raw materials sourced locally
Even reducing other local companies’ waste
Fast Consumption Ban
The bigger Picture
The little things
– Waste reduction
One of the key topics here at Studio Flash is trying to reduce our waste to the bare minimum.
Since we print about 20,000 cards each month, maximizing the efficiency of this particular part of our business is the most important.
So one of the things we do that has the biggest impact is reducing our paper waste.
How we do this? We buy our paper from our supplier already cut to the size of our cards, except for a small piece at the top of the card of a few millimeters. This little piece is needed for our beloved Heidelberg press (Heidi, the printing beast) to have some grip on the paper. This little piece of paper (… mm x …mm) and our misprints is the only paper waste we have. For the misprints we of course first of all try to make sure we have as little as possible by perfecting our printing skills. The misprints we do have and the little pieces of paper waste we do have, are recycled. By ourselves. Here at our Studio Flash HQ. Later more about this recycling.
That’s the main part of our waste reduction, but we do so much more of this. Prevention is the key: we try to only buy to raw materials and things we need. No big stocks. if we design a new product, even a new card, we keep in mind it might not be a hit, so we produce not too much of it. Keepin’ it lean, baby. Packaging and filling materials from our suppliers are reused to send out our own packages, products/stand material used at trade shows are reused as much as we can, even our furniture in our Studio Flash headquarters are made out of (our own) waste most of the time. Eco-efficiency is a mindset, and it often equals economical efficiency.
– CO2 neutral
Since we still work with paper goods, still have to transport our products to places all over the world, still sometimes need to take a plane to go to a foreign tradeshow (although we keep that one to a bare minimum as well), and so on, we do have CO2 emissions as a company. We are of course transparant about this. (Transparency is one of our Studio Flash Key Values) Nevertheless we want to be a CO2 neutral, even positive, business! How do we like to achieve this? Of course first of all by looking at all the little steps and pieces of our company and minimizing the CO2 emissions along the way. Secondly we calculate/estimate the CO2 emissions we do have every year and we compensate this with trees.
Trees? Yes, trees. Those beautiful living creatures, our longues and our anti-depressants. Trees eat CO2 and poop oxygen. Perfect. We need more of them, not less. So to compensate our CO2 emissions (and the ones of our private life, since it is way to intervened 😉 ) we plant as many trees as needed and more. And we plant them ourselves, locally. We are not paying some other company to plant our trees in some other country somewhere. In 2020 we will plant them on the playground of a local school that wants to green-i-fy there space. Next year we are planning of buying our own piece of land to plant trees and making our very own forest (a childhood dream of mine).
– Green energy
This one does not need many explanations: the electricity at our Studio Flash HQ is green. And by insulating our space, underfloor heating, … pretty much keeping everything energy efficient as much as possible, we try of course to rather save then spill our energy.
– Raw materials sourced locally
When green energy doesn’t need much explaining, I guess this one does. By sourcing our raw materials (paper, envelops, boxes, …) locally we minimize the transport of materials. Pretty much every raw material of our company is sourced in the EU (or when the Brexit comes to life, Europe 😉). I am sure there are some expensive fancy terms to describe the path a products has traveled ecologically, but the transportation and the way the raw materials are produced or sourced are a key element in minimizing the impact of a product on the planet. So this definitely is part of our Environmental Manifesto!
In Belgium people sort their garbage as much as possible to maximize the recycling potential. Of course we do this as well: that’s the least somebody over here can do.
But we like to take it a little bit further. Enter our new brand “AFTRPRTY”! A project that started with our upcycled envelops (envelops made out of old books rescued at our local recycle center). These envelops gave us the inspiration and most of all the materials for our upcycled notebooks (notebooks made out of the covers of the old books rescued at our local recycle center). And we always wanted to do something with the little pieces of cotton paper we cut off our cards. Enter: our AFTRPRTY vases! For the vases we combine the paper waste of our cards with the ones of our envelopes and books (yes, although they are upcycled, they have little pieces of paper waste as well) AND the waste of some local restaurants and bars in the form of empty wine bottles.
I can pretty much summarize all of this by stating: waste isn’t waste until you waste it!
If you look at it from a different angle, the waste of your company can by the raw material for another company or another line of products. That last one is the case over here at Studio Flash. By making our own waste and the waste of other local companies the raw material of our new brand AFTRPRTY in our own facilities, we recycle all of this without having to ship it to another facility. How cool is that? The party ain’t over when things get wasted!
– Minimizing Transport
By sourcing raw materials locally, by grouping the transport of our own packages, by focusing on a small range of products, by working with local students and using public transport or our bike and feet as much as possible, we minimize our transport and CO2 emissions. The emissions we do make, are compensated with our tree planing projects.
– Even reducing other local companies’ waste
Waste reduction is sooooo inspiring and fulfilling to focus on. It is a never ending story where every tiny bit of waste can be reimagined as the raw material and new beginning of something else. Creative people like us are thrilled to get into these challenges. And although it was not our main goal, along the way we set up some cooperations with other local companies because we thought their waste is that interesting it became part of our raw material. It even went on the become its very own brand, a Studio Flash spinoff, appropriately named ‘AFTRPRTY’, because the party ain’t over when things get wasted. We reduce the huge piles of books our local thrift store can not get ride of and we collect the empty wine and champagne bottles of local restaurants and bars and together with our own paper waste make them into beautiful handmade vases.
– Fast Consumption Ban
Surely there is also an expensive, fancy English word for it, but in the context of Fast Fashion (inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends) unfortunately there is such a thing as Fast Consumption of other goods as well: decoration, small gifts, accessories, … you name it and you have some mass-market retailers almost throwing it at you for some very low prices.
We at Studio Flash don’t believe in a world dominated by Fast Consumption at low prices. What’s the alternative? Beautifully crafted, well designed and thought after products, locally made with fair wages, fair prices, fair labor conditions, sold at independent stores who know where and how their products are made, who spread the story (our story) of craftsmanship in the large sense of the word, supporting creativity, honesty and transparency. If you are buying one of our cards or products, you are not spending your money on some rich dude driving a fast car, swimming in champagne and bathing in horse milk (that’s how I think the life of the CEO of Hallmark looks like 😉 . #stereotyping). You are spending your money on a small family of 4 living a honest life and their co-workers, getting paid a normal wage and free lunches at our diner table 😃 .
We believe products made with love are loved so much more. We love making them, we hope our resellers love selling them and their customers love buying them and we do believe in the end our products are way to good to throw away without noticing, without care and love.
– The bigger picture
We at Studio Flash see sustainability, fairtrade and people’s health as one big goal, on a larger scale, the bigger picture. On the one hand we like to engage into our local community (via local school projects, a project with a local prison for the production of our envelops, local students working at our factory and we’re also collaborating with a local organisation who support teenagers dropped out of school giving them some meaningful activities during the day). On the other hand we try to have creative freedom, which implies we are an internationally oriented company. We focus on longterm, high quality relationships with our customers, the retailers. We have a very strict exclusivity policy which we think contributes to this longterm relationship. It is more a way of making the world a better place: we believe in an economy of human connections integrated in a international network. This also explains our choice for independent retailers: we do not work with big-chain-companies. And yes: we already said ‘no’ quite a few times to some major (Belgian) retail chains because of this policy.Our own work-life balance is also very important to us. Raising 2 little children makes us very aware of our impact as humans in our private life. That’s why we calculated ‘how far we can go’, business wise. We have certain amount of maximum revenue and maximum growth we like to achieve. That amount is the one we think is the best balance between work-life, human sized family business and creative freedom. So no economic growth just because of the money or the growth itself. That’s what we mean with the bigger picture. Being sustainable and ethical means so much more than reducing & recycling garbage. It’s about the bigger picture and the little things 😃 …
– The little things
It sounds a little bit ridiculous in the larger scope of things, but we believe our impact on the environment is also about the little things. The big steps (reducing our paper waste, recycling, planting trees, and all of the above) are important and have the biggest impact of course. But at the same time we take care of other things that might have an impact as well: we buy environmentally friendly cleaning products, second hand chairs, fairtrade coffee & tea, eco-friendly flowers, embracing bio-diversity in our backyard (haha, that’s soooo easy: just do not garden too much. Lazy gardening is the best way to stimulate biodiversity 😃 ), implementing a rain barrel system for our toilets, buying soup for the Studio Flash team from the local soup bike, using our (e-)bike instead of our car as much as possible, going by train to Maison et Objet at Paris (That’s the best! So relaxing), using our misprints and cardboard boxes and other weird stuff that comes into your house when you are running a business as the base for arts & crafts and toys for the children,… I said it before and I do believe it is true: eco-efficiency is a mindset, and most of the times it equals economical efficiency.
Lot of the things written in our Environmental Manifesto are not perfect at all and we are definitely no environmental-saints, if that even exists. We are aware of this. Starting and running a value-driven company out of your own home with the best intensions on the one hand, but keeping it practical and also market-competitive on the other hand is a never ending balance. We believe this is the way to go, though. We do take our responsibilities towards our environment and we will keep innovating every step of the way. Aiming for a better eco-friendly, CO2-neutral, socially engaged company, life and world!
Let’s join forces: we are always in for feedback! You have some insights, maybe an eye-opening thought for us about our Environmental Manifesto our the way we try to make the world a little better? Let us know! Send us an email, baby ==> firstname.lastname@example.org