We're not separate from the environment. We are part of the environment. Plants, humans, non-human animals, rivers, lakes, forests: we sustain each other. And we all share this, our home planet, together.
At TOM BIHN, we strive to do our best to demonstrate our respect for the environment. Here's some of the small things we've done to hopefully make a difference:
Carbon Neutral Shipping + Eco Packaging
"Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities, and most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position." SOURCE: climate.nasa.gov/evidence
In 2010, TOM BIHN became one of the first small businesses in the United States to take part in the UPS Carbon Neutral shipping program. And we were the very first company to have our packaging certified in the UPS Eco Responsible Packaging Program.
Through our participation in the UPS Carbon Neutral shipping program from 2010 - 2016, we’ve purchased carbon credits offsetting over 560 metric tons of CO2e emissions.
LED Factory Lights
Widespread use of LED lighting has the greatest potential impact on energy savings in the United States. By 2027, widespread use of LEDs could save about 348 TWh (compared to no LED use) of electricity: This is the equivalent annual electrical output of 44 large electric power plants (1000 megawatts each), and a total savings of more than $30 billion at today's electricity prices."SOURCE: energy.gov/energysaver/led-lighting
At our Seattle, Washington, USA headquarters and factory, our goal is to be 100% LED-lit by April 2017: we’re already over half way there!
Seattle City Light Green Up Power
We choose to pay a surcharge on our utility bill to purchase Renewable Energy Credits through Seattle City Light. The credits support renewable development across the Northwest—projects generating energy from wind and geothermal sources and dairy biogas. We're thankful to our municipal energy company for giving us this option.
Recycling, Compost, and Waste
Of course, a factory doesn't only produce industrial waste and by-products. Our crew has breaks three times a day, and our snacks, drinks, and lunches create the usual food scraps, containers and wrappers—most of which can be composted or recycled. We work closely with local Waste Management folks to help educate all of us here at TOM BIHN about sorting recycling, compost, and whatever is left for the landfill. To support the market for post-consumer paper, we use Green Seal recycled toilet paper and paper towels in our bathrooms, and we use 100% post-consumer paper for our office paper and receipts.
Factory Air Exhaust
We use automated equipment to cut and heat-seal nylon webbing, a process that produces minor yet noticeable amounts of noxious fumes. We’ve always filtered that exhaust as it leaves the factory, and in 2016 we did a major upgrade on our filtration system by installing an Air King M-VMC. With this new system, we know that the quality of the air leaving the factory is as good as it can possibly be. Because we are such a small manufacturer, we aren’t required to clean up our exhaust, but we do it anyway: we breathe that air too, y’know.
Minimizing Fabric Waste
To cut production batches of bags, we print what is called a "marker": basically, a map of bag panels that is laid over the top of multiple plies of fabric. Our fabric cutter, Irma, then uses her fabric cutting saw to follow this map. When we make the markers, we make sure to nest the panels as close together as possible to minimize fabric waste. By leveraging some very smart software, our fabric utilizations have increased from 85%-90% to often over 95%. Furthermore, we try to push all the dead space in the marker to one area so that we can make the biggest and most useful scraps possible.
Utilizing the Fabric Scraps We Do Create
Our Organizer Pouches were originally designed to make use of this inevitable scrap. Our hope to minimize waste resulted in one of our most handy and beloved designs ever—how cool is that? We've recently added another design that makes use of even smaller fabric scraps: the Donation Crane.
Fabric Finishes: DWRs and Beyond
For some time now we’ve been at the forefront of our industry to utilize the most environmentally friendly water-repellant treatments (Durable Water Repellant or DWR) on our fabrics. We typically specify—and pay a premium price for—the treatments that meet strict Japanese and/or EU standards. Moving ahead, we hope that by the end of 2017, the majority of our fabrics will be processed in bluesign® certified facilities, meaning that not only superficial DWR treatments but all dyeing and coating processes will meet the highest environmental standards.
Our Partnership with Leave No Trace
We humans are enjoying more time outdoors than ever before. It's good for us: time spent in nature—whether a city park or a national forest—can help us reframe our perspective and, well, get out of our own heads. We want to make sure the time we spend in nature is as good for the environment as it is for us, and that's why we sponsor Leave No Trace.
Click on the links to learn more about the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace: