Greening an Online Guitar Parts Company

This post goes up on Earth Day: April 22, 2020.  Although it's only April, so far 2020 has already been a tumultuous, crazy year and the future, especially in regards to COVID-19, remains unclear and hard to predict.  When things are so uncharted and uncertain, we tend to turn to what is known and what can be controlled.  For us, that is this business and its impact on the earth.

Close up of cactus with flower

We're almost two years into this entrepreneurship journey of owning a guitar parts journey and we learn something new each and every damn day.  Now that all the major things are up and established (website, accounting software, social media platforms, shop organization ... the basics), I wanted to look around and see what we could do about our environmental impact. 

Thankfully our footprint is small because we are small.  It's just the two of us, JT and I, working from the comfort of our home.  At home we already recycle all that is possible and donate things we're not using - we try to use the landfill as a last resort.  We recently joined a composting service and have been really enjoying it - every other Monday they pick up our full 5 gallon pail of compost and leave us an empty one to start the process over.  Recently they added in a veggie service too so now fresh vegetables get delivered with the new compost bucket - it's a circular economy.  Since we're in Arizona, our goal is to get hooked up to solar one day but for now we opt in to the renewable energy program from our local utility company. 

Set of 3x3 tuners and packaging

So on the personal end, I feel like we're doing pretty good.  On the business end, I feel like we struggle.  The thing we can't seem to get away from is plastic - all of our parts come wrapped in plastic bags and foam and then we repackage them into smaller plastic bags.  Its so functional (we can see that the bridge we just grabbed is chrome and not black!) and really streamlines our daily orders (pre-counting and packaging all the bits and bobs that goes with a set of tuners makes it so simple to grab the right thing and send it out the door come order time). If anyone has any ideas for us, we're all ears.

Where we did see room for improvement is on the shipping end.  As part of our COVID strategy, we stopped making once or twice daily trips to the local post office and instead got added on as a pick-up stop on the neighborhood mail route.  So now our sweet mail carrier Sherri picks up everything while she was already out and about - less trips. 

We are also testing out another way to green our shipping - carbon offsets.  While this method is not perfect, it feels better than doing nothing. With an add-on app to our store called Cloverly, we are now able to offer our customers the opportunity to offset their free shipping.  Choosing the carbon offset is totally voluntary and usually less than a dollar.  Additionally, Cloverly shows you how the money is spent with specific details.  Our goal is to match this number annually and also to offset our import shipments.  

Lastly, we have been very happy to use Shopify for our shop's home just from a functional sense but as an added bonus, they also have set up a Sustainability Fund and pledge $5 million dollars annually on environmental issues.  

Computer on table in yard

We are lucky enough to live and work in Arizona with the beautiful landscape of South Mountain in our backyard.  And as small business owners, we are equally fortunate to have the opportunity to do our part for this environment.

Happy Earth Day!




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