Sustainability

3 Reasons Why Refurbished Technology Could Be the Answer for You

Is your company in the market to upgrade your technology products? According to Free Geek Portland, over 70% of overall toxic waste in America is from e-waste (1). E-waste is a term used to describe electronics at the end of its useful life and are discarded or given to a recycler (2). With an increase of organizations operating fully or partially remote, it is important to source technology products responsibly and ensure said products are refurbished or recycled properly at the end of their useful life.

Our society is becoming increasingly dependent on technology, and the number of electronic products that are purchased brand-new and hit the landfill in short order is troubling. There is a significant opportunity to counteract this negative phenomenon by purchasing refurbished technology. It can be an excellent choice if you are looking to do good for our planet and to save some money. At Reeve, we’re walking the talk! Despite our tech purchases being relatively low value, we believe that no impact is too small to make a difference. Whether it be a laptop, a monitor, or a keyboard and mouse set, we have been purchasing from Free Geek for the last two years, a non-profit organization that refurbishes unwanted technology to reduce environmental impact from e-waste.

So, could refurbished technology be the answer for you and your company? Here are some of the reasons why we believe so.

  1. Buying refurbished saves money

You or your company might not have a big budget for technology products and that’s okay! Technology can be expensive, especially if you have a few items to purchase for your staff. Purchasing refurbished technology can save you a few hundred dollars per piece. When purchasing from trusted suppliers, refurbished products are often inspected and repaired by the original manufacturer or a qualified third party to ensure that it’s functional.

 

  1. E-Waste is harmful to the environment and society

We already know that waste is a large issue in our society and are always reminded to reduce and reuse before recycling. End of life electronics are no different; in fact, e-waste has a large list of chemicals that are harmful to our environment if they are not discarded properly. Often, e-waste is sent from a high-income country to a low-income country where there are little to no regulations, or regulations are poorly enforced. Along with e-waste being harmful to our environment, it is highly toxic to humans as well. According to the World Health Organization, many women and children from developing countries work in the informal e-waste sector and exposure to high levels of contaminants can lead to irreversible health problems such as cancer and neurological damage(3).

 

  1. Buying refurbished minimizes emissions

When opting for a refurbished product, you are minimizing the amount of carbon emissions from the entire life cycle of the product. Products made of virgin materials have embedded carbon emissions all the way from resource extraction to manufacturing to product use and end of life, not to mention all the land, air, or sea transportation throughout the life cycle. If your business is looking for ways to minimize your carbon emissions, buying refurbished instead of brand new is a great way to do so.

It may seem troubling that our reliance on technology is becoming more significant; however, there is an opportunity to limit your impact by shopping refurbished or donating items to an organization that refurbishes technology near you. If purchasing refurbished isn’t an option, make sure you look for sustainable eco-labels such as Energy Star or EPEAT. If you don’t have a non-profit organization like Free Geek near you, Best Buy’s Refurbished Program and Facebook Marketplace is also great options. Next time you are in the market for technology products, challenge yourself to minimize your impact by considering refurbished products before buying new!

Sources: 

  1. Free Geek Portland (https://www.freegeek.org)
  2. United States Environmental Protection Agency (https://www.epa.gov/international-cooperation/cleaning-electronic-waste-e-waste)
  3. World Health Organization (https://www.who.int/news/item/15-06-2021-soaring-e-waste-affects-the-health-of-millions-of-children-who-warns)

How Increasing Our Budget Got Us Best Value Promo Tees

 

Are you purchasing promotional merchandise for your staff or your next event? Do you ever think about the life cycle of a product and the emissions created from cradle-to-grave before making a purchase? Read on to see how the Reeve team made their decision in purchasing the most sustainable tees for their annual beach clean-up.

Sustainability is increasingly becoming more of a standard for our day to day lives. Customers are demanding that corporations do better. Rather than looking for the lowest price item, consumers are willing to pay more to purchase items with the best value, whether that be repurposed or sustainably sourced materials or avoiding fast fashion and unethical labor practices. With the state of our environment, it has become evident that corporations and individuals need to do their part to ensure our planet is healthy and sustainable for generations to come.

How we decided on a sustainable option for Reeve merchandise

Recently, the Reeve Team was on the market for promotional t-shirts to host our annual beach clean-up with It’s Your Time. With sustainability constantly on top of our minds, it was our priority to ensure the tees met our 4 pillars of sustainable procurement; qualities such as supporting ethical labor, sustainably sourced cotton, and supporting local businesses were important to us. After doing some initial research online, it was clear that the lowest price shirts would be travelling thousands of miles, made with toxins harmful for the planet and workers, and put together by children working 16+ hours a day. With Reeve supporting clients daily to achieve their own sustainable procurement goals, these features were not something we could put ourselves behind.

This was when we reached out to our friend Denise Taschereau, co-founder of Fairware, for advice on sustainable promotional merchandise that was still cost-friendly for a small business. At Reeve, we have a limited budget for marketing and promotional products, but it was important to make sure the product was aligned with our values. We could have purchased similar products for half the price, but with the exciting features of these tees mentioned below, we stuck to our decision to purchase the most sustainable (and extremely comfy) tees.

3 reasons why we chose eco-friendly products

After learning about the risks and opportunities involved with purchasing eco-friendly promotional products, Denise’s team pointed us to their Tentree products.

“Made with 100% Fairtrade certified, 100% organic cotton and Cradle to Cradle Certified® at the gold level, these tees are some of the best, highest quality tees we could have sourced” – Denise Taschereau, Fairware co-founder.

1. Climate Friendly

Not only is Tentree a a B-Corp and Climate Neutral Certified company but we were also highly impressed with their Climate Action Plan. Their Action Plan includes important aspects such as reducing their carbon emissions, offsetting emissions that are created through projects outside their value chain, and of course measuring their emissions to ensure progress.

2. Ethical Manufacturing and Sourcing

Through their production process, Tentree has focused on reducing water and the use of hazardous chemicals. They have also committed to using only sustainable materials in their products such as organic cotton, recycled polyester and hemp, which have a much lower environmental impact than traditional materials. Like Reeve’s recommendations for suppliers to post factory locations publicly, we were impressed with Tentree’s transparency about the manufacturers and suppliers they choose to work with. It is important to us that they ensure manufacturers are complying with their Code of Conduct and International Labor Standards.

3. Local support

Along with all the fancy features, Tentree and Fairware are local to Vancouver, which means that they don’t need to travel thousands of miles to get to us. In fact, we were able to pick up and transport the tees via bicycle panniers to Reeve’s office in Gastown, Vancouver within 20 minutes.

 

No purchase is too small to make a difference. We need to do better to create a green economy marketplace that reflects the true social and environmental cost of manufacturing the product. Low prices will typically have a negative impact, such as unethical or child labor, and emission intensive manufacturing. When deciding on promotional merchandise to represent your brand, this is not the time to miss out on the opportunity to purchase sustainably. Next time, think about the neat features your products can have to ensure they are aligned with your company’s sustainability goals and values.

TRU launches next phase of sustainable procurement

This spring, the Municipal Collaboration for Sustainable Procurement (MCSP) launched its latest Annual Report on the State of Sustainable Public Procurement in Canada containing 9 success stories from members including this story from Thompson Rivers University. Download the full report here

Thompson Rivers University (TRU) is home to 14,000 students across several campuses in interior BC. TRU is proud of its platinum AASHE STARS sustainability score–the highest designation available–which credits its commitment to sustainable procurement. TRU will be releasing a new campus sustainability plan this fall.

Reeve kicked off the next phase of sustainable procurement work for TRU this week. We’ll be working with a variety of departments—from the Bookstore to Facilities and Operations—to define the highest impact procurement opportunities and align procurement with the environmental and social priorities emerging from the sustainability planning process. We’ll then develop product guides and an action plan, and bring buyers across campuses together for hands-on training.

This project builds on our work with TRU earlier this spring to develop a Sustainable Procurement Guidebook for buying staff at the university. The Guidebook offers simple decision frameworks, tools and resources on how to include sustainability within PCard, multiple quotes, and Request for Proposal procurement processes.

The Draft Guide was presented to TRU’s Environmental Sustainability Advisory Committee in February 2019, and they were pleased with the results. Project lead Jim Gudjonson, Director of the Office of Environment and Sustainability observed that creating the Guide renewed the important conversation among key stakeholders about implementing sustainable procurement at TRU.

This second phase will now define the priority product and service categories for sustainable procurement and equip buyers across TRU’s campuses and regional centres with focused information and training on these procurement categories.

A Retrospective on the 2018 USA Special Olympics Games

It was great to see Lew Blaustein’s GreenSportsBlog post today that tells the story of our work to bring sustainability for the first time ever to a Special Olympics USA Games last July. It’s a nice prompt to share some lessons learned, now that the adrenaline rush of the Games is behind us. For this blog, I interviewed Tim Reeve to share some of his reflections.

The 2018 Special Olympics USA Games Sustainability Impact Report was released last December. It shares the sustainability vision and achievements of this incredible 11 day event that brought over a hundred thousand people to Seattle to cheer on athletes with intellectual disabilities (ID). The report showcases the thoughtful and integrated approach to sustainability that amplified the social goals of the Special Olympics as well as reduced its environmental footprint. We were particularly impressed with how the Games hardwired inclusion into its operations and procurement by providing training and work opportunities and hosting a Job Fair for athletes and others with ID.

The biggest lesson learned for the organizing team was to reach out to stakeholders early to build a relationship and enlist them in the in the Sustainability Program. According to Tim Reeve, “The Special Olympics is a natural platform for progressive brands. The trick to being successful is to build the sustainability brand into the DNA of the event early on in the process, so sponsors see the opportunities to showcase their sustainability performance.” In Tim’s experience, partners and Sponsors are looking for platforms that allow them to communicate positive messages about their brand and their social purpose. Many are willing to contribute financial and technical resources to help the Games’ Organizing Committee activate, implement, and expand their sustainability goals. At the 2018 USA Games, both Coca Cola and SourceAmerica delivered major social impact in providing employment opportunities for individuals with ID at the Games and promoting inclusive hiring through the Job Fair.

Finally, encouraging a focus on responsible sourcing by the Games’ Organizing Committee, partners and sponsors can make a huge impact on the overall sustainability of the event. “Engage vendors and suppliers as early as possible on your sustainability goals and get some firm commitments,” Tim advises. “Planning for sustainability too late in the Games’ cycle means lost opportunities with sponsors, suppliers, staff, and volunteers.”

Reeve Consulting is a sustainability strategy firm that has worked with a wide variety of organizations to design and implement sustainable procurement strategies and programs, including the Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Canada Winter Games and the recent 2018 Special Olympics USA Games. We help our clients create winning Sustainability Strategies with clear impact goals and sourcing strategy that brings on side the creative solutions and full potential of their supply chain partners.