Almost all human activity tend to have some sort of negative impact on our world in one way or another nowadays. I've taken the following steps to try and do less harm and more good:
-Using well made secondhand equipment (hand tools, power tools, benches, buildings) for my work. Following on from that, minimising new purchases of equipment to essentials.
-Using old IT equipment for office work, a 12+ year old PC with open source OS and software, mobile phone from the 2000s. Switching these items off when not in use. Minimising printing. Solar powered card reader for use at shows.
-Using locally grown ash timber for handle making, and buying manufactured handles only from reputable sources in the UK.
-Keeping broken wooden handles to burn in my wood stove for workshop heating in winter.
-Re-using packing materials when posting items, and using cardboard and paper packing tape rather than plastics.
-Collecting and sorting scrap metal, and sending it for re-use. This is can actually be a source of some income.
-Using a combination of grid-tied solar and stand alone wind/solar for my workshop lighting and power. Large power tools like lathes, welders and grinders are notoriously power hungry, and can over strain most small power inverters and off grid supplies, so I use our grid tied PV system during daylight hours, preferably in strong sunlight. This means I rarely draw power from the grid, but if I do we are supplied by Good Energy.
-Minimising car journeys associated with my work - this is the BIG difficult one! I'm in a (very hilly) rural area, public transport is infrequent, and taking rusty old tools, steel stock, timber, handles etc. on a bus or a cycle is not practical. I try to plan ahead and combine a lot of errands in one journey. At least my journey to the workshop is only a 15 second walk. Travelling to shows is an inevitable heavy use of fuel. I might take the best part of a metric ton of equipment and stock to a show; tools and the stall are very heavy. All I can do is minimise journeys by camping at multi day shows, and to try and drive in an economical way, anticipating traffic flow, travelling outside peak times, maintaining the vehicle well, and using a light right foot. I have a diesel pickup and trailer that manages about 30 mpg regardless of load carried - I understand this is relatively good for a vehicle of this kind. Unfortunately electric vehicles able to carry the weight and bulk I need, in the terrain I travel through, and able to reach the places I need to go, seem beyond the current technology, and would probably be well beyond my budget. Hydrogen power one day, with a home solar electrolysis plant?!
-Keeping non-recyclable (land fill) workshop waste to a minimum. I've produced about enough waste to fill an oil drum in the last 3 years. This is mainly abrasives and PPE (gloves, masks etc) which seem unavoidable, unfortunately. I would note that good quality abrasives last much better, and so reduce waste at the same time as doing a better job.
-Not actually part of my business... but we take every opportunity to plant native trees and shrubs, some are around my workshop, which certainly makes for a better working environment. To date we have a 225m long hedge and 500+ trees, some of which will hopefully be managed to provide coppice poles for fuel and handles. Very few trees have failed - the trick is to look at them often. I do feel very lucky to be able to do this!
© Ian Swain 2019