Screen Printing - April/May 2018 - 8
THE MARSHALL PLAN
Is 2018 the year your shop finally goes green?
his month's column will look at a trend gaining a lot of
momentum in the industry today - sustainability. If you
haven't been paying attention lately, more folks are jumping
on that "green" bandwagon than ever before. No, not PMS 354
or Kelly Green. I mean eco-green. Green as in environmentally friendly, and green as in money.
That's right: Pushing your processes and product choices
to be more sustainable can mean more money to your bottom
line from two directions. First, there's the cost savings you'll
reap when you get your sustainability initiative underway and
performing. Then, if you can craft a strategy to help market your
new capabilities, such as obtaining a third-party, audited sustainability certification, you'll begin raking in the green of new client
money. Believe it or not, there are customers out there who
value working with vendors that are trying to make a difference.
This isn't a new topic for me: Those of you who have read
anything I've written over the past few years know my feelings about the benefits of sustainability. What's noteworthy,
though, is that more people are interested in this topic than
ever before. It came up again and again at the ThreadX conference in Palm Springs, California in February - not just in
the presentations, but in conversations among the attendees.
When you consider how industry manufacturers are
tweaking their products, it's hard to escape the conclusion that the trend is here to stay. Shirt manufacturers, for
example, are using more sustainable sources for their yarn -
organic; recycled; modal. It's all being woven into super soft,
trendy, retail-oriented fashion blanks.
But if you use those blanks and don't really have a sustainable production environment, it is akin to only singing half of
the song. You need to fine tune that other half to authentically
market your wares as "green." Otherwise, you are lying to
yourself and your customers. That's called "greenwashing."
Putting a sustainability program into place at your company
is like any other process. It's not that hard. Like any journey,
it begins with you taking action.
Let's begin with a simple idea - a three-letter word,
Why should sustainability matter to your company? Is it
because your customers are demanding it? I'm sure you want
Marshall Atkinson is the owner
of Atkinson Consulting, based in
Gilbert, Arizona. He coaches
apparel decoration companies on
operational efficiency, continuous
improvement, workflow strategy,
business planning, employee
motivation, management, and
sustainability. He is a frequent
tradeshow speaker, author of
management articles and blogs,
and host of InkSoft's "The Big
Idea" podcast. He can be reached at
to decorate on those awesome new eco-apparel blanks and
your customers are probably asking for them more frequently. But is a bigger trend taking place?
More of corporate America is interested in the triple
bottom line than ever before. If you don't think so, go to any
major corporation's website and read their policy online. If
you aren't getting business from those big brands, it may be
because you are not aligned with their ideals.
Maybe you're thinking about sustainability because you
believe it can push more cash to your bottom line - always a
good thing. Sustainable manufacturing can be a cost-saver.
Or maybe it's a personal issue for you. The planet needs
help. We can do more than clean up the side of the road on
If you start with your why, it will be easier to work on
your plan and the justifications for beginning. The what and
how will become more apparent to you. This framework will
also help you make some crucial decisions later.
ACTION STEP ONE: ENERGY
So, let's say you've decided to get started. Where to begin?
Easy: Take a look at your energy consumption. Whether
you rent or own your building, you are forking out a lot of
money for utilities. It's one of the biggest expenses in your
company, and also one of the easiest places to make some
big improvements that matter.
First, contact your local utility company and schedule a
commercial energy audit. This should be a service provided
free or at a nominal charge by your utility company. They will
schedule an auditor to come to your facility and nose around.
The auditor will look at your HVAC, equipment, windows and
doors, and other areas of concern. They may also ask you
questions such as where you lose heating and cooling, how
old your lighting fixtures are, and so on.
After the auditor is finished, he or she will write up a
report on your energy consumption with a laundry list of all
the things you can do to improve. That's the best part: They
do the thinking for you. Better, they will often recommend
sources of grant money or low-interest loans that you may be
eligible for to make the improvements.