I grew up in Hull, Massachusetts, on Nantasket Beach. I was a beach bum when I was five, and I still am (but now with a full time job). Yesterday was Hull’s annual dune reinforcement day, where like-minded individuals across the town turn out to punch holes in the beach and dunes to plant nascent beach grass, so that it will take root and protect roads and homes from erosion and flooding. Every winter I notice more erosion on the dunes due to rising sea levels and powerful coastal storms. There were hundreds of people up and down the beach doing this work today, and between my mother, my brother, and I we easily exceeded 100 tiny bundles of planted beach grass. This gave me an opportunity to reflect on the significant impact of large groups of people doing small things to help the environment, and their fellow man. Whenever my wife leaves the beach, she leaves with a piece of detritus that isn’t supposed to be there. As an Electrical Engineer, I always select a more efficient design choice when I have the option to – it can sometimes be more expensive up front, but it will pay for itself in lower power consumption down the road. We supplanted K-cups in the office with elephant-sized bags of organic, free-trade coffee beans and a reusable French press. Nikolai drives a Prius.
It’s easy to get discouraged when you look at the big picture. The earth is heating, the oceans are becoming more acidified, what can one person do? I’m prone to bouts of fatalism after watching episodes of Vice News. But on days like today, with the dunes holding strong after Hurricane Sandy and dozens of “Nor’ Eastahs,” I’m reminded that if everyone simply does what they can, even if it’s just inside of their own daily orbit, we can have a positive impact.
This is a big part of the reason I came to work at NuLabel. If we can remove PSA liner from the waste stream, eliminate the gas and environmental costs of transporting it in and out, and reduce the amount of natural resources needed to create labels, this can also have a massively beneficial impact. With Brazil’s government in turmoil, who is watching the Amazon for deforestation? I’m not sure, but I can certainly tell you that as linerfree labeling spreads through the logistics industry, they won’t be leveling it to make more release liner. If we can increase efficiency and decrease cleaning time on automated labeling machines, a plant could stand to save hundreds of gallons of water, money, and a whole lot of energy. One small thing, replicated hundreds – thousands – millions of times can drive quality change with consequences far beyond what you can immediately see.
So rinse out your yogurt container and put it in the recycle bin. Reuse that packaging material next time you ship something out. Bring that empty bottle back from the park. Don’t be afraid to do the thing that feels small and insignificant. And tell your friends, family, and co-workers what you’re up to, because if everyone else does it too, the impact can be enormous.
Juris Grauds, Sr. Electrical Engineer