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Scaling Up Our Sustainability

Here at 2 Fish Co, Earth Day this year saw us all working from home remotely, doing our small part to help keep COVID-19 from spreading. That distance gave us a unique opportunity to take a step back (if you want to be literal, take a 30-minute drive back) from our office environment and review what we can do to help decrease our impact on our planet’s resources, and also be good stewards of the triple bottom line. We have always made an effort to think green, but—as a marketing team—we know that setting goals actually makes things happen. So, to keep ourselves accountable, here are the small, measurable steps we will be taking over coming months to become better environmental stewards.

Goal 1:  Garbage in, less garbage out

You might think that, as an office-based business, we produce almost no waste. Even though we don’t create industrial waste on the scale of a major manufacturer, each of us—like every American—throws out about 6 pounds of “municipal solid waste” (read: things that end up in your trash can) every day. That adds up to almost 20,000 pounds a year for our office. We’re looking to slash that by a quarter, at least for the garbage we create at work.

Diverting 25% of our office trash by weight is no small feat. We took first steps toward it by working with our landlords to install a recycling bin alongside our trash collection when we moved in, but we can do better. Implementing commercial composting at our office, as well as creating less waste in the first place, will help not only by reducing landfill size and contamination but also by reducing the amount of energy needed to create and haul away the things we are throwing out. (Yes, everything you throw away had to be made at one point, and garbage trucks definitely do not run on sunshine). Ensuring our recyclables are actually recyclable will also help to divert landfill waste over the course of our waste-reduction year.

Goal 2:  Paperless proofing, provided it’s possible

There’s an awesome alliteration for you.

As a group of designers, writers, and creatively-minded people across the board, we don’t just like seeing our work printed—we live for it, and make a living off of it! That said, our review and revision process often involves creating multiple iterations of a single piece, be that a marketing plan, the latest annual report for our friends at WMSBF, a new product magalog, or a fresh set of interactive experiences. Every piece of content and graphic asset we create needs to be reviewed, marked up, and circulated among multiple team members to make sure it’s up to snuff. Often, the easiest way to do that is on a sheet of paper. As you might guess, that adds up to a lot of letter, legal, and tabloid floating around the office. The creation of each of those sheets involves a myriad of steps: Growing the wood, harvesting it, transporting it to a paper mill, grinding it down, bleaching it, drying it, cutting it, packaging it, shipping it to our office, printing, and so on. Each step takes energy, which inevitably has a carbon footprint.

COVID-19 forced us to move away from our beloved sheets of processed tree trunks faster than we expected. With our team working remotely, we’ve fully embraced digital proofing and revision tracking. Workamajig, our project management software, allows us and our clients to track revisions, jot down notes, and even draw on our graphics to show the changes that need to take place to make every asset perfect. It’s been a sudden change, and not without its challenges, but overall, it’s been a positive one!

While there are still situations where we’ll want to print things to see how they look on the page, the tools we have at hand mean that we can break our old paper-centric habits and still be just as productive. Our goal is to keep that habit broken when we’re back in the office and reduce our print consumption by 75%.


Goal 3: Shop Local

While Amazon is busy trying to create an EV distribution fleet in the next few years, it’s not quite enough for us to keep justifying a stream of just-in-time purchases from the online mega-vendor. We love Prime just like the rest of the world, but the piles of empty cardboard boxes and the overly-frequent delivery drop-offs are a stark reminder that the rapid-fire distribution chain of our online purchases has serious environmental consequences.

Not only that, but as we looked into alternatives for our office supplies, we realized that supporting local businesses just makes sense. They can provide competitive prices and offer even faster and less wasteful delivery since they’re based in the neighborhood. Plus, we can feel good knowing we’re supporting companies that provide a living wage for their employees. Shifting our own supply chain helps us boost our performance not only on the “planet” side of the triple bottom line but also on the “people” side.

Smaller, local companies are also much quicker to adapt in a way that helps support efficiency and conservation. French Paper in Niles, for example, powers their entire operation with a hydroelectric dam, and our printing partners (RiverRun Press, Schreur, and Brightformat). are happy to use their stock in your projects. If you’ve ever worked with us, you know that relationships matter here at 2 Fish Co. That applies to everyone we work with in our business, not just clients, and we’re proud to have partners that work toward a sustainable future alongside us!

Goal 4: Put our money where our mouth is

There’s another side to sustainability, and that’s social sustainability. We know we can make a difference and uphold the “people” aspect of the triple bottom line trifecta by supporting community organizations and initiatives.

For the past few years, we’ve set aside time to offer free work to local organizations that align with our own values and the causes that we support. 2 Fish Co. employees get to suggest organizations that they’d like to work with during our annual meeting, so everyone gets a chance to provide their input on fantastic organizations to throw our weight behind. As we’ve grown, so has our capability to provide this support to our local non-profits. It’s been amazing to work with these organizations and to know that our work is directly impacting the lives of West Michigan residents for the better to create a more sustainable future!

While it can be hard during this time of uncertainty to focus on big-picture goals, we’re excited for the remainder of 2020 and to do our part to make the world a healthier, more sustainable, more equitable place. Tell us about your sustainability goals on our social media pages—we love hearing how our friends are working to change the world for the better as well.

And yes, we’ll let you know next year how we did—after all, that’s part of the deal!