Do you know what is under your sink? Go ahead, open those two doors and take a peek. What do you see? Is it a cluttered mess or is it an organized and easy-to-see collection of spray bottles, pails, tubs and various tools of the cleaning trade? Maybe these get used daily, on weekends, for spring cleaning or maybe never!

Associates III SinkNow open your office supply door or cabinet, what do you see there – perhaps all the essentials for daily business interactions; pens, pencils, staples, paper, folders ready to use to organize your life and office right up. Or, better yet, maybe you are totally paperless and write everything electronically; if so great for you and your company, we may get there someday.

Part of my responsibilities at Associates III includes purchasing all the necessities for daily operations. This means all office supplies, cleaning supplies and janitorial supplies. No big deal, not much to think about right?

Not so fast! If you look under our sink and in our office supply drawers you will find a slew of items we use that are purchased with both purpose and intent. We strive for no toxic chemicals, materials, supplies in our office and no toxic chemicals, materials and waste leaving our office.  It’s just cleaning and office supplies, who cares really? Well, actually, we do. It would not make sense for us to do it any other way. We are in the business to create restorative, sustainable interiors for our clients and we want that for our office too. Besides, we use these things all the time, are surrounded by them and we want products that are fun, beneficial and work like a charm!

Here are a few items I look for and think about while buying for our office:

  • What is it made of?
  • Is it natural material? If not, is it recycled material, preferably post-consumer recycled?
  • Can it be recycled, refilled or up-cycled?
  • Where’s the product or waste from the product go after we’re done with it?
  • Is it made locally or at least in the USA?
  • How will it be delivered to us, is carbon neutral shipping available?
  • Can the item or container be refilled?
  • Can I buy in bulk to reduce on materials?

Do you think about any of this when buying? Are there other things you consider when buying?

My challenge for all of us is to really think about what we buy and bring into our homes and businesses. What we buy is what we are supporting. What are you supporting?

Does any of this matter? Who cares about these menial items; is it really worth searching out the option that is the most responsibly produced? Many think making these better purchases is the way to go in a renewable, responsible home or office. Is this the solution? NO, this is not the solution.  While it is a great place to start, it’s not the ticket to sustainability.

Here at Associates III, it is an important aspect of what we are creating; we know it is a very small part of what we do. We start with sustainability from a design perspective that is at the heart of why we are here and fuels our work but it does not stop there, it filters out to all aspects of our office, our team and includes what is under our sink.

— Kelley Cleveland