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Today is DIY Day: Do it for the Planet!

I’ve decided that today is DIY day at Rock Creek. The theme of creative re-use seems to be popping up everywhere I turn today, so I had to share some things I’ve come across. I just got an email from a customer, Kevin Gantz, from Atlanta, GA, who made a Tyvek wallet from a template on and put one of our stickers on it, and it’s sweet!
IMGP2074So after that I got the Gear Junkie newsletter with this article on baking your own energy bars. Personally, with my cooking skills, I wouldn’t risk it, so I stick to Larabars that I buy at our downtown store. But it sounds like fun, and the guy says they taste great.
Someone else sent me this link to a Wired magazine article about Timbuk2 developing a new fabric out of old plastic bags. I actually was given a strap pad made of these recycled bags a few weeks ago and they are very, very cool. The one I got has a San Francisco Chronicle masthead kind of melting across the back.
All that reminded me of an interview I had yesterday where someone was asking about our environmental initiatives, especially around packaging materials. As a follow-up to that, I called and had a discussion with our fulfillment and customer service manager, Clark Luckmann, about efforts he’s making to make our packaging more environmentally-friendly. We’ve always re-used boxes and packaging materials that come in from our vendors, which has essentially eliminated the need to purchase plastic bubble wrap and other padding materials.
Years ago, we made an effort to resize our cardboard boxes to use less materials. We cut down the size of the box we send shoes in, using at least 20% less cardboard. Months ago, we switched over to plastic shipping bags for most of our small packages- basically anything that will not crush or break, like jackets, t-shirts, pants, etc. These plastic bags have a much smaller carbon footprint, and they don’t take up nearly as much space in the UPS trucks, planes, and delivery vans, thereby saving on transportation fuel.
Now it’s time to push that a bit further, and we’re researching plastic bags made of post-consumer waste. These bags are also designed to be re-used, with another sticky flap available so you can put them aside to send your holiday gifts later.
patagonia reusable grocery bag
All of that thought brought me back around to another enviro. initiative that we’re about to launch. We have these organic cotton totes from Patagonia that we’ll be offering very soon. (See the mock-up to the right). If everyone would use bags like these, we could save a ton of plastic from ever being produced.
It seems to me that one of the biggest ways we can reduce our impact on the environment would be to just learn simple DIY tricks like these, and re-use the things we have been conditioned to throw away. Surely there’s something else that can be done with that Tyvek mailer, plastic bag, or cardboard box besides throwing it out, or even recycling it. Recycling is great, but it’s even better to find some alternative re-use, eliminating even the energy it takes to recycle. Plus it can be fun, and green is hip these days, so you’ll look cool while saving the planet. I think the next wave in sustainability will simply be to reduce our waste, or “dematerialize” processes like our friends at Tricycle (who recently wrote a great article about plastic bags) are doing with carpet sampling.
So, I’ve seen some great replies to our question “How do YOU go green?” Keep them coming! I love hearing about these things, and I’ll continue to share them with you as they come along. Just shoot me an email at mark [at] or reply as a comment here.
Related links:
Read our environmental statement >>
Learn how to recycle your old fleece and polyester clothing >>
See how Rock Creek switched to wind power >>