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(March 2010) posted on Mon Mar 15, 2010

Five shops report that ‘going green’ continues to have both challenges and rewards.

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By J.P. Pieratt

Resource Grand’s Graham agrees: “It may not come down to dollar cost, it may come down to, ‘Hey we’re a shop with six employees and we’re doing everything we can, but we’re also doing everything we can to grow our business and stay in business and survive these days,’” Graham says. “And trying to take one person on staff and say, ‘Okay, you’re the new green person and that’s 40 hours a week;’ it’s not practical for us to be able to do that.”

Graham also believes it’s easier for larger companies to take on big initiatives, such as certification. “Now, larger companies can obviously weather that better than we can. We pursue sustainability without needing the certification to be at the bottom of our tagline. We may not be going to the trouble of submitting documentation and going through all the stuff that’s required [for certification], but, that doesn’t mean we’re not in tune with it and trying to do the best we can.”

Strenke agrees that small companies can initiate basic programs. For instance, Strenke stresses contacting local power companies about having a free energy audit performed, as Modernistic did. Most power companies, she says, will come out and show where a shop could be more energy efficient. “There are a lot of programs and rebates out there from power companies, and the savings will more than pay for itself over the following six months.”

CR&A’s Rad says, “For us, I don’t look just at the bottom line. It goes back to how important you find [sustainability] to be to you and your operation.” When Rad got wind one manufacturer was launching a UV printer a few years back, she says she was one of the first to purchase the machine, regardless of expense. “We had heard at that time that the company was coming out with new equipment using UV inks, and we found that to be very important, because they’re better for the environment.”

Many shops, including Point Imaging, have been hoping to see a quicker return on investment and more clients wanting their projects printed as “green” as possible. So far, that hasn’t happened—at least, not quite yet.