For many years I have worked, in some fashion, with my Dad. Typically, along with my business partner, we develop his business’ website, graphics, business cards, the whole works.
It was 8 years ago when I first developed an image for him that would highlight how “green” the company was, what their company consumption was, and the kind of carbon footprint it left. And it was in this moment that I began thinking that all companies need to have a “green policy,” as my dad called it.
My sister has always been about local shopping and the farmer’s market… get it from the source, and it’s better. I’ve witnessed her go out of her way to support the local store rather than go to the large supply chain.
I haven’t been as diligent.
But one of the great things about moving as often has we have is to witness how others take the same concepts that my dad and sister have and apply it to every day life. There is a culture of people, across the US, that are about their local products. They buy items because they’re sustainable; they buy food because it came from their backyard. And, it’s a concept that I support.
In and around Indianapolis there is a slew of farmer’s markets every single Saturday. Joanne and I have found and hit quite a few of them where we see farmers selling their local produce, quilters selling their homemade blankets, old fashioned homemade desserts and pies fresh from the oven. And the more markets we go to, the more variety of items we find.
Last month we visited the Covered Bridge Festival and it was all local business, local merchants, and everything you could ever imagine. And might I just add that I purchased the best pumpkin butter I have ever tasted that I would never find on a store shelf. In that moment, I knew that I had to be more diligent in getting things from my backyard. That supporting businesses that were local in my community would benefit us all and help my neighbors.
My business partner’s family runs a company that turns old records in to purses. They take the beloved, cherished music, and turn them in to a piece that’s fashionable and allows those records to have new life and live on.
It’s concepts like these that I want to support. It’s watching people do better for our world and our environment that means something to me, especially with three children that are growing up in this world.
Recently I read an article by Mark Dwight, the founder of Rickshaw Bagworks. In it he said:
[quote]Sustainability is a journey, not a destination. Once you embrace the fact that sustainable business practices save money, simplify operations, and build brand equity, you will continually seek new ways to embrace them.[/quote]
It sounds like a simple concept and most certainly true. But, how many companies do you know that actually follow a more sustainable practice that simplifies and saves money? Not many, to be honest.
But what I learned is that Rickshaw Bagworks steps it a step further and does what other companies say they want to do, and live and produce that sustainability.
And, it makes me wonder, if Rickshaw can do this why aren’t more companies? Why can’t we develop more products like the Zero Messenger bag that leaves behind no waste? Why can’t we have beautiful, elegant products that support the local manufacturers, and why can’t we support each other in a way where we all profit?
If Rickshaw bags can produce a company with high quality products and a sustainable concept, then other companies can do it. If Rickshaw Bagworks can thrive in a city like San Francisco and operate their company in a way that, still today, puts them ahead of the curve, why don’t we see other companies follow suit?
And, it’s not like this sustainability and local manufacturing policy of Rickshaw Bagworks has put them behind the curve.
Their line of bags are produced when an order is received. This means they don’t have to store bags waiting for them to be purchased and they have no waste on bags that are not sold. They also do the majority of their selling online which means they have no need for hangtags, brochures, and they don’t print catalogs. Because, let’s face it, as consumers we now take to the internet to find out that information rather than looking at printed materials.
[quote]We embrace what I call the “three f’s” of sustainable design: form, function, and footprint. We pride ourselves on making high-quality products for long-term, everyday use.
- Mark Dwight, CEO, Rickshaw Bagworks[/quote]
Rickshaw Bagworks also uses local vendors to help with screen printing and other essential tasks and when they meet with them, they get around the city on bicycle.
So after learning all of this information, I feel inspired. How can we do more? How can we follow suit? Here are some ideas I have thought of:
- Recycle everything. As much as you can, not just the obvious items, but everything else too.
- Reduce consumption by reusing. It’s obvious, I know, but I vow to no longer complain when Joanne reuses a plastic food bag.
- Support our local community by purchasing locally.
- Walk, ride a bike, or use public transportation as often as possible.
- Support companies that support local and sustainability.
- Find creative and unique ways to re-purpose items you currently have, but no longer need.
What I saw, in reading articles, watching videos, and learning about Rickshaw Bagworks is that a unique culture is has been developed. A culture we have talked about for years, but I have never seen this kind of action taken before. And, it’s a culture that supports us, the every day person, and our dreams.
So, I ask you… how can you make your life more local and more sustainable? What more can we do to support a movement like this and encourage companies around us to do the same?