Sustainability

Ethical green 

“Are we green? Supergreen..”

Let’s start with the painfully obvious; we are not supergreen. Anybody making any electronics is unfortunately adding a bunch of problems to the world. In the petro-chemicals of the PCB for instance, in the use of capacitors and MCUs that contain materials mined under terrible circumstances. The supply chains that we are part of, are not great nor green. But here are the things we consider and what we are doing:

All things considered. We work ‘art first’ meaning that the artistic drive of Stijn comes first and monetary concerns come second. We are still a business but we don’t start from an entrepreneurial ‘Make money fast’ standpoint – which means there is a class of me-too, hurriedly made, no love products that you should never see from us. It also means we are often slow, we really try to maintain a high-quality standard and we don’t mind staying small.

Before producing anything, we ask ourselves questions like:

“Why are you building this? Does it have sufficient purpose to excuse its existence?  What would happen if this thing was not made (by you)? What are the materials and processes involved in making it? What happens to the material during its lifetime and at the end of it? Who are the people involved in the process of making this and how are they treated? What does your thing mean to the humans that will end up having it? What does making it mean to you?” Only if we have satisfying answers – some of which are entirely subjective- do we proceed to production.

Long lasting. We are lucky to be making musical instruments – a category of electronics that means they are maintained and repaired and that users expect a long life from these devices. We design, build and support our modules to be long lasting. We look for quality and durability in our components and material choices. We work with a 50 year horizon and this means we expect our stuff to outlive us. Part of this is open sourcing enough of our designs that should mean they will be repairable without us. 

Offsetting. Yes, problematic. We do it and view it as the minimum we can do in relation to the problems we are causing and also as a form of climate philanthropy that is not sufficient to fix the hole we are in – also see https://www.elektormagazine.com/articles/the-gift-of-giving-the-act-of-good . We use IDEMAT to calculate the carbon cost of every production run and offset double that via  https://treesforall.nl/ 

Moving around. When we calculated the carbon costs of producing all our Fenixes we were still shocked to find that the biggest contribution was us personally flying to China. I think this was the last drop in an overflowing bucket and we decided to stop flying. All travelling within Europe is going to be with our fully-electric company car or by train (I am also learning how to sail). We will allow ourselves one intercontinental trip per decade and so we are counting down to go and see Japan in about six years.

On some materials

Recycling. We are part of WEEE. That’s not particularly good of us as it is compulsory for any company in the EU. More about that is this article   https://www.elektormagazine.com/articles/weee-cycling-waste-from-electrical-and-electronic-equipment 

Aluminium. We use it for our frontplates because it is very durable and one of very few materials that is actually commonly recycled in industry. Light-weigth and easy to work with it allows for precision milling and full-colour printing IN the aluminium. Ours come from https://repos.nl/ 

Bamboo. Greener fast-growing hardwood. Gorgeous material. We used it on the sides and as the support for the Fenix IV modular system instead of plastic or other wood options. We have our eye on this to use in future devices.

Packaging. We went from full-colour and lightly laminated cardboard boxes from China to the current recycled-within-the-EU cardboard box that is blackened with water-based ink and punched to size in the Netherlands. The box is made to be shipped (mailer box) so every module needs only one package to get somewhere. When we send bigger boxes filled with modules to dealers, we save and re-use the bigger boxes we receive ourselves. 

We didn’t want to lose all our colour but had a hard time finding an eco-friendly and affordable print option, so we decided we would do our own screen-printing and buy the friendlier inks ourselves. Boxes come from https://www.purepack.nl/ then we make them pretty at https://agalab.nl/en/home/ (we LOVE places where artists and otherwise can share resources like this one) with Permaset inks https://www.permaset.com/pages/sustainability 

Finance. We have moved our company banking to ASN which is one of the greenest and ethical banks in the Netherlands. 

Updated februari 2024