Lately, I've been thinking about the environmental impact a business like mine has. Not only do I produce plastic products, I often have manufacturing done overseas to save on costs. Even digital downloads and streaming have an environmental impact due to increased energy consumption and electronic waste caused by our insatiable appetite for the latest phone or headphones. In thinking about ways that I can decrease BMR's impact on the environment, I have come up with the following steps, and I am hoping to find even more.
First, over the last two years I have brought all of our CD and LP manufacturing back home to the US. This isn't about some patriotic ideal, it's about ensuring the least impact on shipping, transportation of raw materials, and stimulating economy where it helps. Thanks to ADS Group in Minnesota and Gotta Groove Records in Ohio, I've been able to decrease cost, decrease production time, and reduce shipping damages. Plus, Gotta Groove is located within pick up distance to my distributor, further cutting on shipping costs and impacts.
Second, we print a lot of what I call "box candy." The freebies and promo materials we throw into every package you buy. Most of our postcards that have that little QR code and often a discount on the back are now printed on FSC certified, 100% post-consumer recycled paper.
Our shipping labels have a recyclable paper back and we used to send that paper on to the fan, but now we are doing it ourselves at the warehouse to ensure it gets recycled. The packing slips (which help make sure we get the order right) will now be stuck to the inside of the box
We're looking at compostable shipping labels, but aren't quite sure we can find the right ones that will work with our shipping platform. Related to shipping, we recently found smaller LP mailers that hold only one record instead of 1-2.
This will cut down on the amount of cardboard that we use and that may just get thrown away at the end of its journey. We strongly encourage you to keep the mailers and reuse them at least once. If you can't, please recycle them properly. Remove the tape and labels, first.
We're also using less tape on the shipping boxes to make sure it stays closed during transit. Once we exhaust our bulk supply of tape, we may look into different tape options that are better for recycling than what we have now.
Third, or fourth, I don't know, we're taking a look at the packaging itself. Our coming LP releases won't have shrink wrap on them anymore. Even though our manufacturer uses environmentally friendly film, most fans won't take the time to take them for proper recycling. Most curbside/city recycling programs won't accept film or plastic bags since it clogs processing machines. So, we are going to move to poly bags in hopes that fans will keep them with the record to help protect the jacket. The bags are 100% recycled, too.
I will look at recycled vinyl variants, but aren't sure about them, yet. With CDs, it is tricky. I've found paper digipak trays, and I am certain that I can get recycled paper for the digipak, but the cost will increase dramatically. It may be worth it in the end, though. I can't switch to wallets or simple envelopes because of our radio and press campaigns. They still need a good, solid spine or our release will get lost in the shuffle.
Our warehouse is lit by LEDs, and most of the time the lights are off. Our rollup door is insulated and the temperature is kept near the higher end of optimal vinyl storage in the summer, and near the lower end during winter. Typically 75º in summer, and 68º in winter. Our front office is kept at similar temperatures and is also lit by LEDs that are off most of the time. I prefer to work in sunlight, so my office light is rarely on. We also offer local pick up here, so save on shipping cost and impact and come by and say hi and hang out a bit.
What other ways could I reduce impact? It's hard in the physical side of the business, but I am trying to do what I can. Let me know what else I should/could do!