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More is Less: A Look at Sustainability at Modernistic

(August 2010) posted on Wed Aug 11, 2010

Environmental responsibility comes in many forms. This article describes the strategies Modernistic used to reduce consumption, save money, and improve efficiency.

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By DeAnn Strenke

After formulating this objective, we identified elements required to achieve it and produced an action plan, assigning elements to the team. Breaking the project into manageable pieces makes it more manageable for everyone on the team to work toward the goal. We’re now six months into the initiative and are on target to achieve this energy reduction, save money for the company, and reduce our environmental impact. This makes our associates feel good about where they work and our customers happy to partner with a company that’s doing its part to be sustainable and give back to the environment. Can we do more with less? The answer at Modernistic is a resounding yes.

Ways to save
Opportunities for change exist everywhere you look. For example, recycling can take materials out of your dumpster and become a source of revenue for your business. Modernistic now recycles almost every type of material we print. While we aren’t compensated for recycling certain materials, we also aren’t paying to have them recycled. We’re able to recycle some substrates with our plastic-sheeting extruder. Clean trim waste and off cuts are reground and extruded into new material.

Stay focused on initiatives that you find interesting and implement them. Look at it as exercise: To stay in shape, you have to constantly train. Big changes are on the horizon, but if you aren’t in the habit of adapting, you simply won’t have the organizational muscles to actually execute those changes when called upon to use them. Create new habits. The following actions will help get you started.

• Understand your company’s unique challenges, and find the best strategy to address them.
• Get up to speed on how trends in society, technology, and resources affect your organization. Identify the gaps in your organization.
• Gain a better understanding of your personal sustainability.
• Turn off equipment when it's not being used. This can reduce the energy used by 25%. Turning off the computers at the end of the day can save an additional 50%.
• Encourage communication by e-mail, and read e-mail messages on screen to determine whether it’s necessary to print them. If it’s not, don’t!
• Reduce fax-related paper waste by using a fax-modem and by using a fax cover sheet only when necessary. Fax-modems allow documents to be sent directly from a computer.
• Produce double-sided documents whenever possible.
• Do not leave faucet taps dripping. One drop per second wastes 10,000 liters per year.
• Find a supply of paper with maximum available recycled content.
• Choose suppliers that take back packaging for reuse.
• Investigate lean-manufacturing practices.
• Conduct energy and efficiency audits.
• Reuse shipping pallets and packaging materials.
• Start a recycling program.
• Coordinate inbound and outbound shipments to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

DeAnn Strenke is the marketing manager and sustainability co-chair at Modernistic, a large-format screen and digital printer based in Stillwater, MN.


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