Small Planet, Big Problems
Homo Sapiens have been around for 200,000 years or so, and for most of that time we’ve lived in balance with the planet.
But for the last few hundred years, it’s all gone a bit Pete Tong. We’re consuming more resources than the planet can cope with. Then we spew out the resulting waste for somebody else to sort out.
Slowly we’re realising what we’ve done, and are starting to work out ways of minimising our impact.
Here’s what we’re doing to try and be responsible.
SoundBuckets are based in a small village in rural Wiltshire, UK, on the edge of Salisbury plain, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty ( AONB). Although it sounds idyllic, the reality of living in the country means that everything is a bit more difficult. You have to be more self reliant, and you can’t ignore the impact of man on nature around you.
This subtly changes the way you think, and you start to make choices based on the long term, rather than your immediate wants.
We wanted to run a small local business, rather than commute miles to a large city for work. And we wanted to do something that will last and things differently.
The first problem in running a rural business is where do the staff come from? Transport links are poor, and there’s no a great pool of people to draw from. We’ve solved this by training up locals, teaching them new skills and trades. Over half our staff now walk to work, and the rest come from nearby villages. This feeling of community means that we can all work together and work together to minimise the impact we make.
It’s a real pain getting rid of stuff you don’t want in the country, it involves travelling many miles and a lot of relative cost. So from an early age we’ve all got used to recycling where possible and minimising waste.
The majority of rubbish we get is from the stupid amount of packaging our parts get covered in. We solve this by re-using packaging and paper based stuff where possible, and by sorting and recycling all the rest of the materials. So at the end of the week, the general office bins are mostly empty.
There’s always bits of stupid plastic you can’t recycle, but we sort these and give them to a local arts and crafts group to be used in creative projects.
We hate throwing useful things away. So all of our designs are made to be repaired, or at end of life, easily dismantled into their component parts for recycling. In our main pro-audio business, we’re still servicing 25 year old bit’s of kit, due to the modular repairable design techniques we pioneered in the early ’90s.
This is one of the reasons we rarely incorporate any plastics in our designs. Instead we use steel and aluminium, all of which have residual value, and can be melted down for re-use.
Although you can argue about their relative merits, that’s also why we use British leather for our handles instead of hard plastic handles. Ditto British sheep wool for the acoustic wadding inside the speaker instead of the cheaper plastic based foam.
The best way to minimise waste is not to create it in the first place. Starting with energy usage, we using energy efficient devices in the office. There’s lots of natural light, and we burning local wood for heat (there’s no gas here), and make sure our office is insulated properly.
Next, we then look at parts, minimising any redundant stock, and re-using parts across multiple assemblies to avoid waste. We follow this up with using local craftsmen and metalworkers, using other small, local businesses with sympathetic views. Sometimes you can’t do this, a lot of our parts come from the far east, but we do what we can.
Finally we try and make sure our product is packaged without polystyrene, or disposable plastics, in cardboard boxes you’ll want to keep and re-use yourself.
And of course the SoundBuckets are designed to last the test of time, not be continually replaced in order for us to make more money. Buy Better, But Less.
What you can do
You all know the obvious stuff, but there’s a few things you can do specifically about your SoundBucket.
- The external power supply is very efficient, on standby it will consume less than 0.25W (that’s 2 KwH a year!). But if you’re not using it for any length of time, just turn it off.
- It will get dirty, so just clean it with a damp cloth. You don’t need to use any artificial cleaner.
- Should it break, please call us. We can fix it and make it work wonderfully. You don’t need to replace it.
- If you want to get rid of it, don’t put it in the bin, send it back to us. We’ll find a new home for it, or break it down into it’s raw parts and recycle everything
We’ve been around for 200,000 years. If we work together we might be around for another 200,000. If we don’t work together…