Being environmentally responsible is in our DNA. Founder Jim Kelly began with the model that the most sustainable building is one that's already built. Then we built on that idea by manufacturing our own lighting right here in Portland, Oregon. Even though Jim went from running a small shop (with under 20 employees) to a large manufacturing facility (between 150 – 200 employees), he was always very clear he wasn't going to sacrifice his integrity in the name of business. “While I have never had any ideas about a grand social experiment, it is our company policy not to blindly accept ‘good business' rules. It has always been my intention to proceed with a philosophy that values fairness, cooperation, honesty, and quality over just dollars and standard business practices.”
We know this is a complex issue, and so we've chosen to focus much of our energy on two key areas: engaging our customers and reducing and offsetting our carbon footprint.
Engaging Our Customers
We are always invested in finding ways to be more energy-efficient in our manufacturing and shipping processes and in our stores. However, we know that the fundamental nature of lighting is that its use has the largest impact on the environment after it leaves our hands and goes to our customers. That’s why we ask you, our customers, to take part in conserving energy by turning off all lights when you’re not using them, and to make energy-efficient bulb choices as often as possible. We are in a time of transition when it comes to light bulb technology, and we are as excited as anyone to see what options become available in the coming years. We are committed to finding and sharing those options with our customers, because while we care very much about preserving the best of the past, we care even more about helping care for the future.
Reducing and Offsetting Our Carbon Footprint
The Rejuvenation team is an opinionated lot. On issues historical lighting, political, business, and best-dog-breed, we get pretty hot under the collar. The one thing we all agree needs to be neutral – our carbon use.
Because you can't reach a goal if you don't know where you are right now, we began measuring our impact around major carbon producing activities like driving, utilities, and travel back in the 1990s. In 2005 we started to specifically measure carbon. This came about as part of our 30-year anniversary and commitment to not only measure, but also to REDUCE our carbon and offset our operational impacts.
Since 2005 we've seen a 20% reduction in carbon emissions. Year by year our number is going down, too. We have reduced our carbon footprint. It was 923 tons in 2009 and in 2010 it was down to 718 tons. We're not yet where we want to be, but we're on our way.
Reducing Our Carbon Use
We're mindful of lots of things with our business. Our lights are built to last 30 years or more. We recycle and reuse brass parts and wood and we repurpose old wood and furniture to build our display cases and service desks. Other things we do internally that contribute to less carbon in the long run, though more difficult to measure in the short term:
- Added motion sensors to our factory lighting
- Switched all store lighting to compact fluorescent lightbulbs
- Began to sustainably and responsibly recycle the CFL bulbs, and any that customers bring and send us, so no mercury ends up in landfills
- Turned down the thermostat
- Switched packaging materials to one that weighs less, needs less fuel to transport, and therefore produces less carbon
- Created an alternative commuting program. One of Rejuvenation's unique conservation efforts is our "alternative commuting" benefit. We pay employees to walk, carpool or ride our bikes to work, and offer free public transportation passes to every employee. We also inaugurated a fleet of company bikes that employees can use during the workday to run errands, attend meetings, or just get outside for a breath of fresh air.
Offsetting Our Carbon Use
We work to find creative and effective ways to offset our carbon footprint every year. Though we began by simply writing a check, we decided we prefer being directly engaged. We’ve done things like send CFL bulbs to customers and give away LED bulbs at our retail stores. We are continuing to look for creative and meaningful ways to offset our carbon use.
Other Ways We Lessen Our Environmental Impact
Lean & Green Manufacturing
In 1997, Founder Jim Kelly learned about The Natural Step (TNS), a framework grounded in natural science that helps organizations and businesses integrate processes to support sustainability.
We volunteered to be the first participant in an innovative pilot project designed to integrate TNS sustainability principles into an "environmental management system" (EMS) based on International Standard ISO 14001. Sponsored by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, and the Oregon Natural Step Network, it provided the basis for Rejuvenation to analyze the environmental impact of our manufacturing, and the framework to make metal cleaning, metal coating, antiquing, polishing, plating, and painting processes more environmentally benign.
Adopting a hybrid of "Lean Manufacturing" in our factory has improved efficiency, safety, and quality. For example, the water-based ultrasonic degreasing equipment produces cleaner parts with non-toxic materials. And our closed-loop ion exchange system treats water from the antiquing process, extracting heavy metals for safe disposal. This eliminates discharge to the sewer and allows us to re-use the processed water. New equipment and process controls in the metal coating area have also lowered volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions.
Recycling Our Products
We offer our customers a "take-back" program for our products. Rejuvenation pays the freight to have the products returned to us, in part so we can ensure they won't end up in a landfill. We'll also help customers consider the best use for an item, whether it's selling it at a garage sale, donating it to a local charity, or marketing it over the Internet. The significance of the smallest change made by one store, one department or even one person at a time can be impressive. All told, these small changes create and maintain the momentum that pushes sustainability to the forefront of Rejuvenation's business practices.
Recycling Compact Fluorescents
In an effort to keep the mercury from compact fluorescent bulbs out of landfills, we ask that you return all used bulbs to our stores and we will make sure they are recycled properly.
Recycling In General
Recycling is widespread, far beyond the usual bins for cans, containers, and newsprint. Every office and workstation separates paper to be shredded and utilized in packaging. Beyond the company policy, many of our employees are known to be recycling fanatics, bringing in things from home because we recycle beyond what the city offers.
In our manufacturing facility, we use a low-VOC product finish process, reroute storm water into planters to reduce storm-water run-off and keep contaminants out of the river, and are invested in finding new ways to reduce our environmental impact.