What Sustainability really means for a Small Business

For us at Paper Boat Collective, taking care of the Earth isn’t just a day, it’s a way of life.

When we say we are environmentally conscious, we don’t just mean with respect to our fabrics and our waste generation. And we don’t just mean that we go above and beyond on the 22nd of April every year. What we really mean is that with our every action and consumption, we strive to be mindful and do better; Every single day.

So what does “sustainable” even mean & how does a small business achieve it?

We hear the word “sustainability” often thrown around loosely. Sustainability includes, but definitely isn’t limited to turning off the lights when you leave the room, not using a plastic straw, or buying a cloth bag at check-out. The simplest all-encompassing definition of sustainability is being conscious of the negative impact of your actions and consumption on your surroundings, your community, your ethos, and your future generations; and taking proactive steps to reduce that impact to the greatest possible extent.

For any small business, the first step towards becoming sustainable is being able to cater to their customers, employees, suppliers & environment.

~ Curating meaningful & conscious collections, empowering local artisans, having in-depth knowledge of our products, being honest about our product quality, educating our customers, having the flexibility to adapt to our stakeholders’ changing needs, being transparent in our communications with suppliers, promoting fair trade practices, creating an environment of love and warmth, building lasting and mutually beneficial relationships – are just some of the first steps we started with.

~ Eliminating specific items & operations that are high consumption and high waste generation, such as packaging material and disposable items used around the store, has been and continues to be what we strive to achieve as we grow into our tenth year of business.

~ At Paper Boat Collective, we even create décor & furniture display pieces from the strangest of waste items. As you push open the blue doors to enter our store, you’ll look up to find a hanging art piece made from old discarded stainless-steel strainers and tongs. If you also observe our tables and doors closely, you’ll see that most are made from small pieces of leftover wood, put together like a puzzle.

But the true cherry on the sustainability cake, is that for us, our actions aren’t just limited to our professional work environment. Every person (read: woman) who works at Paper Boat Collective takes the same mindset back home with them, and in turn impacts one more person, who hopefully impacts one more person… And that spirit, for us, is what’s truly a celebration of Earth Day.

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