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Sustainability: The Ultimate ROI?

(September 2017) posted on Wed Aug 30, 2017

How renewable business practices can make your shop more profitable.

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By Joe Holt

“That’s certainly a silver lining,” says Koke, “that when you figure out how to reduce waste, you save money.” And even though saving money, she explains, isn’t why they do it, Koke recognizes that the business needs to make money and keep the lights on. “Even if they’re LEDs.”

It’s Never Been Easier
Just up the coast, Stella Color in Seattle offers a wide range of large-format digital products and services. An SGP-certified shop since 2010, Lynn Krinsky, Stella’s owner and one of our 2016 Women in Print Award winners, remembers the good ol‘ days of doing paste-ups, back when her biggest expense was buying empty 4-ounce bottles and metal nuts to mix printer colors manually.

“We’ve come a long way since then,” she says, noting the impact today’s technology has had on her business and her ability to be sustainable. “We were one of the first shops on the West Coast to add dye sublimation to our product mix back in ’94. At the time, we were just looking to add something new, something different, but it had the happy coincidence of being more sustainable than a lot of the other products at the time.”

But just because something’s better for the environment, adds Krinsky, doesn’t mean it’s going to catch on quickly. There’s typically an adoption factor, time and energy put in before the wheels of progress turn. The T8 lighting Krinsky and her team initially installed to replace older fluorescents, for instance, burned out far faster than expected. After some digging, they discovered that the motion sensors they had also newly installed were shortening the life of the bulbs, turning them on and off more frequently than their design specifications could handle. “Trial and error is a large part of trying new things. You just have to plan for it,” she says.

In the Northwest, where sustainability is a serious business, there isn’t much room for mistakes. “You’ll get a note from the city for having glass mixed in with your cardboard recycling at home,” observes Krinsky. “They’ll make the time to let you know.”