No matter what humans do, each of us ends up contributing to greenhouse gasses.
Watching a climate change awareness video on YouTube paradoxically causes more carbon emissions from the servers serving up the content.
When we eat, commute or even just stay at home browsing the internet or playing online games - we all contribute to climate change.
But it's not as if humans can just stop consuming food or products - not until the zombie invasion anyway.
After the zombie apocalypse, humans will once again become hunter-gatherers growing their own food, making their own post-apocalyptic clothing, and trade with each other on a decentralized currency called dogecoin.
Of late, I've been researching the impact on the climate from both a consumer and manufacturer's perspective.
But before you ask - if I care so much about the environment, why don't I just pack up shop? If I can use Smart Doll as a platform to share ideas on how we are going to reduce our impact on the environment, then that is what I will do *before* I pack up shop ;-)
Reducing our impact on the environment is not simply a matter of using recycled plastics for Smart Doll. The reason is that products made from recycled plastics can be brittle and break easily due to the plastic molecules structurally changing when reheated.
We have looked into materials other than plastic but a wooden Smart Doll may only work well for licensed characters like Pinocchio.
But do we need to worry about a plastic Smart Doll being tossed in a landfill outliving humanity? Considering the price of a Smart Doll, I would guess very few people would throw away a Smart Doll.
Then again, even if a Smart Doll was dumped in a landfill, they will always find a way back to their original owner's home armed with spoons...
Every product page on the Smart Doll online store has a "why you should not buy this" message asking the consumer to think twice about buying a Smart Doll. The original idea of this was to set expectations because all consumers have different needs - this turned out to be an idea that effectively discourages many folks not to buy, leading to less energy needed to make new Smart Doll's and thus less carbon emissions and fossil fuels used for the plastics.
I am OK with selling a Smart Doll to somebody who knew they were going to get an imperfect handmade product - but am not OK in selling one to somebody who thought they were going to get a perfect machine-made product. For this reason, it's important for us to set expectations to avoid making more dolls than we need.
Most of our packaging is reusable - the tote bag can be used to carry your Smart Doll and shop for groceries - but your Smart Doll may complain if they have to share the tote with a bunch of onions.
The apparel and accessory bags are all resealable, and I've been told that cats enjoy the Smart Doll accessory box.
Online ads are creepy as they follow you around the Internet. The really creepy ones are where you had a verbal conversation with somebody about getting a new camera (for example) and then all of a sudden, you see ads for cameras in your timeline. Somebody out there is listening...
Buying online advertising would mean that our ads would have to be served up by server farms that use more energy leading to more carbon emissions - which is why we don't.
We choose not to embrace the Japanese work culture that encourages employees to work long hours through the evening. By ensuring our team can leave early to relax and wind down after work, we also reduce energy consumption in the studio.
We limit the number of Smart Dolls we make per month. The main reason has been because we want to focus on quality rather than quantity. The more we try to make, the more effort is needed to maintain quality, meaning longer hours in the office.
We could take more orders and work longer hours but we value our time more than money. We also need a planet to enjoy instead of pumping more carbon into it and making more plastic from fossil fuels.
While we are constantly developing efficient methods to reduce production times, I'm unsure I would want to produce more than the current capacity. I would rather have the team (and I) take more time off than to produce more.
Business owners need to ask themselves, just how much is enough? How many cars does one need and how much of a bigger house is big enough? Is it that more money is needed for a 24 carat gold coffin or a burial in space?
Just how much money can they use in the remainder of their life? The plot twist is that we could die any day.
It does not make sense to spend our most precious commodity (time) chasing money that one won't be able to spend in our remaining lifetime - unless one really needed a burial on Mars.
Our Chaos Outlet section has helped us reduce waste - rejects that would be disposed of and recycled by the municipalities during our early startup years are now made available to consumers.
While many manufacturers burn or landfill rejects in fear of damaging their brand, we feel that it doesn't make sense to dispose of something that required energy to make.
All plastic manufacturing produces a part used to extrude or pour the liquid plastic into the mold. For injection molding, the parts are known as the sprue, runner and gate. For vinyl casting, the part is known as flash.
As you can imagine, we end up with a lot of vinyl flash which we previously used to dispose of as recyclable waste. The issue of recycling plastics is that the process can also consume a vast amount of energy leading to more carbon emissions.
We think we can better use the vinyl flash instead of disposing of it as recyclable waste - we will use it as cushioning when packing customer orders.
Vinyl flash is now bundled in plastic bags that were used during doll assembly. The vinyl flash bundles will then be used in packaging that requires cushioning of the contents.
Many folks have found vinyl flash useful for fabric stain testing or paint mixing. The flash of the heads is particularly useful as the round shape acts as a holder preventing heads from rolling off the table under somebody's foot causing screams - screams from both the doll head and the person who trod on it.
The weight of the vinyl bundle does not add to your shipping cost. We will prioritize putting the bundles in the orders of regular customers as they may scare a newbie. Not everybody will get a vinyl bundle if we run out so we can't take requests to have (or not to have) the bundle. The only way not to have them is not to buy anything.
This is not a definitive list of things we can do to reduce or offset our impact on the environment. As we learn more, we will implement and keep you informed of our efforts.
Instead of buying a brand new Smart Doll, you may want to look for a second-hand one instead. Where possible, try to get one from a reputable source and ask the owner for the original order ID so that we can better provide support.
Instead of buying new apparel items, you can make your own using the free patterns that we distribute on the Smart Doll online store.
If you are a Smart Doll owner and see somebody on the fence about buying, ask them if they really need one and tell them the reasons why Smart Doll may not be for them.
Or you can opt not to buy and enjoy the photos from other owners instead. Buying a Smart Doll is a big responsibility. They will keep asking you for snacks putting further strain on your wallet. If you do get one, whatever you do, never ever feed them after midnight.