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The Air Seems Cleaner Right?

May 7, 2020 | By: Jon Budington

My house is crowded these days. I have a small office (closet) where I remotely run our business. My wife and daughters are also working remotely on all the other flat surfaces in the house. I have a son finishing up a semester of college from his bedroom and twin boys who are pretending to pay attention to the online classes making up the remains of their high school year. Yes, we are a family of seven all working out of the same house. Serenity now.

To decompress, we don our masks and take walks. I found a great online map of Rock Creek Park, and we have set a goal to hike every trail during this cohabitation crisis. On a walk through the Glover Park section this past weekend, my son Nick commented, “doesn’t the air look cleaner?” Actually, it is.

According to the Washington Post, we are breathing our cleanest spring air in 25 years. Much of this is due to the cooler and windier weather pattern we are stuck in. But according to the Post, the Beltway has about 50% less traffic, and we are using 7% less electricity than this time last year. This has resulted in reduced particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide in the air we are breathing. In other parts of the world, the environmental effects of the economic shutdown have been even more dramatic. Our jobs and livelihoods depend on the world getting back to work, but this pause has provided us with a tangible view of the air we could be breathing regularly.

Before the pandemic overtook our days and nights, I had a big announcement planned. I don’t see any point in delaying any longer, as we won’t be holding an open house in the near future. Two months ago, I acquired the assets, talents and expertise of Ecoprint—a local printing business with a focus on environmentalism. The goal of this acquisition was to shift our print and experiential manufacturing operations towards sustainability. It’s already started.

We began by adopting Ecoprint’s methods into our own business—purchasing renewable energy credits, switching over to environmentally friendly inks, supporting reforestation efforts and enhancing our recycling practices. This all sounds great, but our plans are to go much further than carbon offsets and bigger recycling bins. We are about to open a new facility focused on sustainability. It will be branded Ecoprint, powered by More Vang. We will be working with new substrates, more energy efficient equipment and hopefully, producing our own on-site solar power. My goal is to build the nation’s largest sustainability-focused printing plant.

Next week, I’m going to invite you into a sustainability experiment—deep breath—possibly the most important pillar of our Ecoprint plan. I want you to help us make something valuable. Yes, I believe the biggest opportunity for sustainability is to make things that we care about and hold on to. As I look around my home office, I see books, letters, postcards and photographs, and as long as these products don’t rot or burn, the carbon remains trapped inside. Now go look at that recycling bin full of single use plastic containers and another full of junk mail. Is that sustainable? We’ve been “cooking up” an idea that I hope will demonstrate our ability to make something valuable, but that’s for next Friday.

Breathe easy everyone. We’ll get past this.