Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Obligatory Earth Day Post

I don’t think of Earth Day very much.  Not because I don’t care about the environment or climate change or the plight of the Irawaddy Dolphin or Emperor Penguin.  I do care.  I try, on a daily basis to keep my carbon footprint as small as possible by recycling, composting, growing my own food, walking/biking instead of driving, reducing my consumption of limited resources, etc…  While I know how I behave in my personal life, I hadn’t really examined how or if that mode of behavior transferred to my business life.

                The very nature of reselling has a positive impact as we keep goods out of landfills.  Reselling books, in particular, can help to reduce the number of trees cut down to produce paper, diminish the amount of toxic by-products produced from the printing process and even cut down on the amount of fuel consumed to get the printed books to distributors and then finally into the consumers’ hands.

                However, since the world of reselling books has changed so much since the Internet came along; i.e. the closing of the majority of brick & mortar stores, most of us booksellers rely on mail order or internet sales.  This of course means that we have to pack and ship the books, which requires the use of resources to produce packing material.  Getting the packages to customers means that they have to be driven to or picked up by the post office and then driven or flown to their final destination, thus using up resources and increasing harmful emissions.
                With that in mind, I realize that I have taken some small steps to offset some of the environmentally negative impacts of my business:

          1. Whenever possible I use boxes from shipments I received or which I’ve picked up at  my local recycling center.

          2. The production of bubble wrap is incredibly toxic, so I try to re-use this as well.

          3. Instead of Styrofoam or polystyrene packing material I use old newspaper; or, if I receive a package containing those packing peanuts, I’ll reuse them instead of letting them end up in the garbage.  Those things are dangerous to produce and dispose of.

          4. Rather than take packages to the post office every day, I’ve designated Tuesday and Friday as my shipping days (although I do have the occasional customer who NEEDS their book faster, which will require an extra trip).

          5. I’ve reduced the number of print catalogs I send by asking customers with internet access to receive digital catalogs.  This has worked well with the trade, but the majority of my retail customers still want to browse the physical catalogs.
Going forward, I will continually find ways to eliminate unnecessary waste, which can also have the added benefit of positively affecting the bottom line—as much as some will lead you to believe that being greener takes more green. 

While I have no illusions that my small steps will save the habitat of Polar Bears or the Hawksbill Turtle, I do believe that if we all take small steps, we can eventually undo some of the damage we’ve caused and even live in a better and cleaner world.  

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