Mitch Heiman runs Perrin Resort and Collegiate Apparel, a company that prints up to 40,000 shirts a day in a warehouse of approximately 250,000 square feet. Because of the size of his company, his footprint is always at the forefront of Mitch’s mind. Sustainability can seem like a large task to tackle when you’ve got to manage a smooth operation in your print shop, but Mitch is confident that steps towards sustainability can be rather simple.
Think about the 3 Ps
The planet, the process, and the people. According to Mitch, these three qualities are the key to leading a more sustainable approach to any business. To him, sustainability is not just about the environment (though there is a lot you can do to help in that area). When all three aspects work together, you can make leaps and bounds in progressing your print shop and making everything you do last much longer.
Make efforts to reduce your water usage
“A big thing that impacts us is water,” Mitch explains. He recommends looking for self-contained filtration systems which can really reduce water usage, whether that’s for washout or reclaiming screens. “If you have the opportunity or ability to upgrade — whether you’re looking for equipment to add to your floor or buying for the first time — it’s good to think about your water usage.”
Rethink the cleaning agents you use
At Perrin, Mitch uses cleaning products that are biodegradable, drain-safe and water-based to reclaim all his screens. “Choosing the safer cleaning products is not only good for the environment,” he tells us, “but it also benefits the health of our employees.”
Update your lighting
Mitch made the decision to convert his shop to LED lighting which reduced their kilowatts annually by a staggering 243,000 hours. He notes, “with a lot of clean initiatives, upfront they look more expensive… but I don’t think we’ve made any conversions where we haven’t seen good returns; whether that’s in health and safety or in cost savings!”
Recycle and reuse materials and packaging
We’ve heard it before, but reusing and then recycling are some of the simplest ways to be eco-friendly. Mitch partners with a local recycling center that takes his cardboard, plastics, papers or garment scraps. He then buys his company boxes from the same company which makes them from 100% recyclable materials — bringing some of that leftover cardboard full-circle. But an even simpler step is to reuse the boxes you may already have. “All of our stuff comes in boxes, so we’ll reuse every box that we get from our manufacturers unless it’s damaged,” Mitch says. “Even though we have our own printed boxes with our logo and name, we’ll still use Gildan or other manufacturer boxes when we can as we feel it’s just as important as part of our image.”
Partner with other sustainable companies
As well as partnering with recycling centers, Mitch makes sure the companies that manufacturer the shirts he prints on are also eco-focused. “We work with Gildan, which is a great example as they power around 43% of their total energy from renewable sources and recycle 80-100% of their waste and textile clippings.”
Enlist technology to help you
Perrin actually has its own development team, which Mitch leverages to streamline sustainability and company processes. For them, they are now trying to implement electronic software across all departments so that they can eliminate the need for hard paper documents. “As well as saving paper, it also moves information along faster, so you’ve got sustainability from an economic standpoint as well!”
Don’t forget about the social side of sustainability
Mitch emphasizes that sustainability is as much about the social wellbeing of your employees as well as being green. At his employee-owned company, Mitch wants to give everyone in his workforce a voice by encouraging them to leave suggestions, raise concerns and offer interesting ideas when they have them. “We also have a reward system with shoutouts for any employees doing something for company savings, or just a job well done.”
As a parting note, Mitch leaves some encouraging words for anyone in the industry: “It really doesn’t matter what size you are as a business. You can make a difference.”
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