This is not AI.
I promise. It’s me! Peter! Then again, that’s probably what an AI engine would say, right? This issue I figured I’d touch on another hot topic that is quickly ramping up and rightfully so! The demand for sustainable manufacturing is on the rise. More and more people are asking the hard questions. Where is this from? How was it made? How did it get here? How long will it last? What will happen to it once I’m done using it? And the list goes on.
It's no surprise that up-and-coming generations are very conscious of the environment and what their impact is on it. You can even choose a flight based on carbon emissions. This is not a fluke. So, what can we start thinking about and acting on in the woodworking industry?
You’ve heard of the 3 Rs… reduce, reuse, recycle. Reduce is first for a reason. It trumps everything. One of the most shocking things I’ve heard on this is a keynote speaker once said that the biggest impact you can have on the environment is to have fewer kids. Wow. One less human equates to a lot less consumption. I get it. But for those of us that are here, what does reduce look like in woodworking? Does it mean smaller kitchens? Not sure. Tiny homes are a thing… Not for me, but what if a large inviting kitchen was seen as not environmentally friendly in the future? Whatever it could mean, we should start thinking about it because our future customers sure are.
What’s the lifecycle of the kitchen? We used to have solid oak raised panel doors that could stop a freight truck at speed. We rip these out, dump them into a dumpster and replace them with painted MDF cabinets that will be due to be replaced in 5-10 years. Is there a way that we could reuse some parts? The hardware? There are more and more thrift stores for clothes and secondhand items. Is there a market for used cabinets, hardware, knobs/pulls, etc? Not sure, but people are asking the question: What happens to the kitchen you rip out? This was an actual question to a group of cabinetmakers recently. A student was concerned about the impact on the planet.
Some concepts are a little more far-fetched, but some are within reach and being implemented today.
Lean Manufacturing The aim is to reduce waste, improve efficiency and minimize environmental impact. Using greener materials. Water-based finishes. Using renewable energy. Operating in a green building.
One thing for sure…
Your future customers are voting with their wallets. They are supporting the businesses that are in line with their values. They can assess the impact your products have on this planet. I predict that once the baby boomers are gone, the next large customer base will
be a lot more demanding
on sourcing products
from environmentally efficient sources. Time
to start thinking about
it now. BE AWESOME. BE GREEN.