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Creative Elegance Welcome to CEWEB
 
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Green Story

The purpose of the Creative Elegance “Green Story” is to provide an abbreviated version of our sustainability efforts. We are proud to have always been an environmentally responsible company and for our decision in 2007 to formalize our efforts.  We felt that we should draw a distinction between ourselves and the “non-environmentally responsible” import products we compete with. In this paper, we have attempted to present our goals and document our progress of continuous improvement toward sustainability. This is as much a guide and tool for us, as it is a progress report to our customers and other interested parties. This document, as well as our sustainability program in general, will be evolving and changing continuously over time. We sincerely hope that you find reading this report interesting and indeed, inspiring.

Reasons, Goals and our Approach:  
 
Reasons:

  • As a southern California furniture manufacturer, we have been at the heart of environmental regulation for years. We have been working with the AQMD (Air Quality Management District) since 1983 in there quest to reduce VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) in finishing materials. California regulations are usually the strictest in the country and we are use to paying attention to these issues and supportive of the goals. As consumers and industry are waking up to the importance of sustainability, we decided it was time to “toot our own horn” a little. We are very proud of our long record of environmental efforts and welcome the “Greening” of the industry.
  • Another reason for formalizing our environmental efforts was to distinguish ourselves from the flood of imports from Asia. In the old days when we competed mainly with furniture made in Italy, things were more equal. Now that most of the imports have shifted to Asia we feel that the public needs to know that lower prices and levels of quality are not the only issues they should consider. The imports generally have horrendous environmental and social equity deficiencies. We want customers to realize that they are actually hurting the environment by ignoring these issues. We believe that given a choice, and knowing the differences, many people will want to support an environmentally responsible, domestic source.
  • Being environmentally responsible and working toward sustainability is the right thing to do. Formalizing our efforts will help keep us moving in the right direction.

Goals: Briefly stated, our goals are:

  • Compliance with all laws and regulations to protect the environment. 
  • Learn more about ways we can not only protect the environment, but also make our company and products more sustainable.
  • Prioritize and implement what we have learned to improve our sustainability.
  • Help educate our customers and the industry about what they can do to improve sustainability in the industry. It is important that we all do our part.

Approach to Sustainability:

  • Sustainability Statement: Creative Elegance acknowledges the existence of dangerous global climate change and believes that we all must do our best to combat it if we are to survive. Deforestation must be reversed and greenhouse gas production must be minimized. We also believe that addressing localized environmental issues such as “indoor air pollution” and the proper handling of hazardous waste are equally important issues. We believe that a balance between sustainability, pollution prevention, social equity and economic development is the best way to go. To help further these goals both for ourselves and for the furniture industry, we are proud to announce our founding membership in the “Sustainable Furnishings Council”. By working with the “SFC”, we hope to help develop and share many “best practices” techniques to produce furniture in a more sustainable way. We also plan to help spread the word to vendors, customers and competitors alike so that we can all make a positive difference. We feel that this sustainability policy dovetails perfectly with our company cornerstones of: Quality; Integrity; Style and Service. Creative Elegance has always been among the more environmentally responsible furniture companies, mostly because we are based in Southern California (ground zero for the environmental movement) and subject to the most stringent environmental regulations. When many other companies left the area (and then the country) to dodge these regulations, we stayed, adapted and complied. We are proud of our record and are now taking steps to better quantify and document our achievements. When this project is completed, it will not be the end, but only the beginning as we have embarked on a journey of continuous improvement. Please check our website often as we plan to detail many of our environmental efforts there.
  • Priorities:
    1. We are already in full compliance with all laws and regulations. If we were not, or if a regulation were to change, our first priority would be to get back into compliance.
    2. Maximize our positive effect on the environment by concentrating on the areas where we can make the most impact. Fortunately there are many ways to protect the environment and improve sustainability that are very easy to implement. You just need to look for them.
    3. Document our existing environmental accomplishments so that we can demonstrate our efforts to others. This is to help sell the virtues of “doing the right thing”, but also to show a competitive marketing advantage against the imports. Another reason to improve our documentation is to avoid any illusion of “Green Washing”. Help spread the word and “Best Practices” to customers, consumers and others in the industry.
  • A Process of Continuous Improvement: Since our goal is to maximize our positive efforts in an environment of limited time and resources, our process will be to implement strategies as soon as possible and then revisit them regularly to evaluate success and potential for more improvement. We believe that making incremental continuous progress is the best approach to achieving our goals.
SFC and other sources of inspiration

In 2007 Creative Elegance joined the Sustainable Furnishings Council as a “Founding Member”. One reason for our alignment with this particular environmental group was that we liked their balanced approach to improving sustainability across a broad range of issues and practices. Many other groups we looked into were focused on particular issues such as “Certified Wood” or “Carbon Foot Print”. We also liked the idea of a mix of furniture industry people and environmentalists- (there are other “industry groups” that lack environmentalist involvement and oversight). To learn more about the Sustainable Furnishings Council please see their web site at www.sustainablefurnishingscouncil.org. One of the biggest inspirations for our environmental awareness was the fact that since 1983 the wood furniture industry in southern California has been at the fore front of efforts to produce furniture with less air pollution. We have been experimenting with and using low VOC finish formulations for many years. We were always amazed at the resistance the paint suppliers and other furniture manufacturers had toward cleaning up the paint. As California blazed the trail, eventually the regulations spread and the chemistry caught up with the rules. Now much of this country is using low VOC materials.

Indoor Air Quality:
In our opinion, this is one of the most important issues facing our industry today. We feel that our efforts in this area are way ahead of the pack as you will see. 

Formaldehyde: After the Katrina disaster, the government sent trailers to Louisiana that had unhealthy indoor air quality issues. This helped our industry and consumers became more aware of this problem. Formaldehyde, though a naturally occurring substance in all living things, has been found to have toxic properties. Unfortunately, formaldehyde has been a common ingredient in many household products including furniture, carpets, fabrics, glues and paints. Some raw material manufacturers were already working to reduce or eliminate formaldehyde and we were lucky enough to buy our finishing materials from one of these companies (Sherwin Williams). We are also pleased that our plywood supplier, Columbia
Forest Products (www.columbiaforestproducts.com) was at the forefront of the new CARB rules reducing the formaldehyde levels in plywood. This new rule even exceeds the European Union standard and is considered the toughest standard in the world. Even though this rule only affects California for now, the EPA wants to adopt it nation wide ASAP. Creative Elegance is fully compliant with all current CARB regulations. Not just for the benefit of our California customers, but for every customer!

VOC: Volatile Organic Compounds are the chemicals that are emitted from finishing materials, glues and many other materials that are associated with SMOG and other unhealthful air pollution. We are proud that we use extremely low VOC materials and are tightly regulated by the Air Quality Management District. Their goal is to cut down on Los Angeles SMOG and the bonus is that it also improves indoor air quality.

Toxic Chemicals: Creative Elegance uses finishing materials that are virtually free of “TAC” or Toxic Air Contaminants. This also guarantees that Creative Elegance products are superior performers when it comes to protecting your customers and their families from indoor air pollution.
 

Design Considerations: There are many opportunities for making furniture a more sustainable product.
  • Built to Last: As is known throughout the industry, Creative Elegance furniture is extremely well built and with proper care, should last a very long time. Well built furniture may consume a little more resources to construct originally, but the added lifecycle before it needs to be replaced will more than make up for that. Consider the way low end and imported furniture tends to fall apart when moved or with normal use. The customer ends up needing to replace it prematurely. Most people wouldn’t seriously consider recovering, refinishing or even repairing most cheap furniture, they just have to replace it. That’s not good for sustainability!
  • Sustainable Materials: As you will read in another section of this document, Creative Elegance makes use of a lot of recycled materials in the manufacture of our furniture. We are also exploring the potential to use more “Rapid Renewables”. These are materials that grow very quickly and therefore are not a threat to sustainability. Materials such as cotton, wheat and bamboo are considered rapid renewables. We are currently investigating the availability of this type of product to incorporate into our products. It is not quite as easy as it would seem because many of these materials come from third world countries with social equity issues. It wouldn’t help sustainability much if you bought bamboo from someone who clear-cut the jungle to get it.
  • Designed to be Recycled: This area of sustainability deals with designing a product that, at the end of its life cycle, can be disassembled for easy recycling. We need to do more research on this issue to see what we can do. Our packing materials are already easily recyclable and all metal parts are easy to remove.


    Domestic Advantages:

    There are many reasons people should want to buy American made products.
    These include keeping our people employed and our economy healthy. Even though the purpose of this document is to describe all of the environmental and sustainability issues involved, it is hard not to mention the economic issues as well. 
  • American Values: It would not be accurate to say that every American furniture manufacturer obeys all of the laws and regulations and is never tempted to take a short cut, but our value system and ethics in this country will keep this to a minimum. These are the same values that most European countries share with us. On the other hand, many Asian, Latin American and Eastern European countries are just the opposite. It would be rare to find a manufacturer that would think twice about sacrificing the environment or quality of a product to save a few bucks (or Yuan). Some cultures do not think they have done something wrong unless they are caught. This difference in basic values is at the core of the sustainability issue in our opinion. Just look at the parade of cases of defective and dangerous products that have been in the news lately. Everything from defective tires to melamine added to pet food and baby formula to cheat the protein test. If you are serious about wanting to do your part to save the planet, then you should think twice about who you do business with.
  • Environmental Regulation: Though this is the bane of most domestic manufacturers, the presence of regulations drives the improvement of safety and sustainability issues. It is amazing how industry will fight an issue for years until a regulation forces the material suppliers to develop a compliant option. We believe in free enterprise unless it affects health and safety, then regulation is needed.
  • Reputation for Integrity: Another advantage of dealing with a domestic company is that it is easier to know about their reputation. The Popel family has been in the furniture business for four generations and Creative Elegance has been manufacturing fine furniture since 1980. We are well known and respected in the industry and have received several awards. We have always treated Customers, Vendors and Employees with respect and honor. This is the way we do business and our sustainability effort will receive no less.

Our Employees:

One of the cornerstones of the Sustainable Furniture Council pertains to Social Equity. Not only must we strive to provide our employees with good and safe jobs and protect our community from pollution, we must also attempt to encourage our suppliers to do the same. Though this is not exactly a “Sustainability” issue, it is related to the extent that exploitation is exploitation. Whether it is the use of child labor, deforestation, unsafe working conditions or any other human rights violations, these are all behaviors that in a way hurt sustainability. Following is where our employees fit into this equation.
  • Shared goals and vision:
    First of all, we like to refer to our employees as our “Team”. From their first day on the job, every employee is trained and educated about what we expect form our Team. We take the time to teach everyone about safety, quality and the importance of good customer service. One of the tools we use is a regular “Team Letter” that comes out every two weeks. One of the topics that are frequently featured is our sustainability program. We ask everyone for suggestions and we share with them our goals and vision. We even encourage them to share our goals and techniques with their families. It’s pretty cool, when an employees kids come home from school talking about environmental issues and their parents are already on the same page.

Wages, Benefits, Training and Working conditions:

  • Wages: In order for us to know what a fair wage is in our area, we participate in the California Manufacturers Association’s Wage and Benefits Survey. We make sure that we pay above the industry average for each position. We also check the Los Angeles area “Living Wage” benchmark and make sure we pay above that level as well. In fact, all of our new hires receive at least $.50 an hour above the California minimum wage (much higher then the Federal level and most other states). We also give opportunities for overtime hours as well as advancement. Of course we pay time and a half for overtime and bonuses for employees who travel.
  • Benefits:
    In addition to a good wage, we pay for Holidays and at least a week of vacation a year. We also offer our employees and their families very good medical insurance o Training: We do a lot of employee training at Creative Elegance. We even have a big screen TV to show safety videos and cover a wide range of subjects including CPR. We also use the services of a professional safety consultant to keep our program strong.
  • Working Conditions: We take great pride in providing our team with good working conditions. We make sure everyone has good lighting, ventilation, anti fatigue mats to stand on, good tools, clean restrooms, lots of breaks, vending machines, filtered cold water, a holding oven for lunches, lunch trucks at breaks throughout the day, etc. We have a company culture of helping one another when moving heavy or awkward items and everyone is encouraged to say “please” and “thank you”. We truly care about our employees and in return they care about us and our goals.
  • Our Safety Record:
    We are very proud of our exceptional safety record. The time, money and efforts we devote to employee safety are considerable, but the results prove that it is worth while. Our workers comp experience modification has been well above average for the industry for over 29 years! Furniture factory and usually operates at 100% at all times. Our system operates between about 10% and 80% and averages about 25%. This saves an enormous amount of power (estimated at over 97,000 Kwh a year) and money. The system was pretty expensive in dollars, but provided an instant savings because it saved more per month than it cost. Good for the environment and good for the company. www.ecogate.com Our dust collector also features added equipment to capture very fine dust and to lessen the amount of noise it emits.

Industry Affiliations:
CFMA: We have been members of the California Furniture Manufacturers Association for many years. Our President, Mark Popel served on the board of directors for several years and also served as president for two terms. A few years back, we were honored as the CFMA’s “Manufacturer of the Year”. We believe that supporting and participating in our industry is important and we wish every manufacturer in the area would do the same.

  • Sustainable Furnishings Council: We joined the SFC as “Founding Corporate Members” in 2007 as part of our project to formalize and expand our sustainability program. We have participated in several meetings and seminars and are working toward achieving “Exemplary” status in the future.
  • Others: We have also been affiliated with other industry groups such as:
    -
    The California Chamber of Commerce
    -
    The Contemporary Design Group.
    -
    HFRG: We were members of the Home Furniture Reps Guild for many years and were honored as “Manufacturer of the Year”. We also participate in their charity events.
Spreading the Word
We believe that improving sustainability is an important goal for ourselves, our industry and everyone else on the planet. As the documentation of our program improves, we will share it with other interested parties.
  • Consumers: For the consumer we want to provide information on our web site and eventually in advertisements in shelter magazines to help them make informed buying decisions. Currently, most consumers do not even realize the huge difference between the ways furniture is made domestically by environmentally responsible manufacturers vs. the way most others make it. It is our job to help them get the information they need to make informed decisions and help them find a dealer that can help them.
  • Customers: For our customers (dealers), we will help to educate them on the advantages of selling sustainable furniture. We will work to get them the “Point of Sale” aids they need to properly show and sell our line and we will send them referrals from our web-site.
  • Employees: We will continue to educate our employees on the importance of being good stewards of the environment and instill the pride in them that they deserve being part of this effort. We will also encourage them to pass on the things they learn about sustainability to their family and friends.
  • Industry: Our goal is to make our sustainability program as transparent as possible so that anyone in our industry can learn from us and use our information and techniques to improve their own sustainability. We don’t want our competitors to knock off our designs but would be happy if they knock off our sustainability efforts. In the summer of 2008 we worked to help arrange for the Sustainable Furnishings Council to put on a seminar for the members of the California Furniture Manufacturing Association.
  • Website: We realize that our website will be the easiest way to communicate our sustainability programs and we plan to feature this prominently on our site when we redesign it in the near future. This will eventually be the best place to check on the status of our program and to learn more about sustainability.
  • Green Washing: Green washing is a term describing when a company misrepresents and oversells its environmental or sustainability program. Unfortunately, most claims are embellished and many are outright frauds. We are committed to avoiding green-wash. We will do our best to always be honest and accurate in reporting our progress and successes. We will avoid making promises that we may not be able to keep.
  • Factory: We are extremely proud of the successes we have had in making our factory very efficient and sustainable.

Conservation: Energy:

  • Efficient Lighting: In 2007 we undertook a project to change out almost all of the lighting in our factory with the goal of saving energy and improving the quality of the light to improve working conditions and product quality. During the first half of 2008 we made additional changes and adjustments. The projects were extremely successful in all regards. As an additional bonus, Southern California Edison, our power supplier, helped us with the research, sourcing and rebates. This made the projects easy to implement and very cost effective. We encourage everyone to study their particular situation and you will probably be amazed at the potential results. The three Edison projects consisted of changing the factory and office lighting to T8 High Efficiency Fluorescent Lighting.
  • The annual reductions in “Carbon Footprint” factors from these projects added up to: 105,574 less pounds of Carbon Dioxide produced per year. 175,956 less grams of Sulfur Dioxide produced per year. 408,218 less grams of Nitrogen Oxides produced per year This is the equivalent of planting 12 acres of trees. This is the equivalent of removing 10 cars from the road. This is the equivalent of saving 6399 gallons of gas.
  • Reduced Lighting when not needed: Before the work shift starts and during break periods in the factory we turn off about 70% of the lights. When the work bell rings, the lights are turned back on. This policy saves an additional 10% of the energy we would have used for lighting and creates a tranquil environment for the workers. This also reminds every employee four times a day about our commitment to conservation. We also changed our policy to turn off the lights in individuals offices when not occupied. Another project we did in September of 2008 was to study our office lighting and remove bulbs in areas where we didn’t need as much light. This saved an additional 2,222 KW/Yr. This was on top of the savings mentioned above with the conversion to T-8 lighting.
  • Dust Collection: One of the biggest conservation projects we’ve embarked on was actually done several years ago. We converted our dust collection system to be computer controlled to maximize performance and minimize energy use. The system is called “Ecogate” and uses a series of automatic blast gates, sensors, a computer and a frequency converter to determine the exact amount of air flow needed to service only the actual machines in use at any moment.

  • Ventilation: General shop ventilation is provided by huge (12 foot diameter) high efficiency electronically controlled fans. These fans create air movement and improved working conditions at very low energy consumption. For more information please contact the “Big Ass Fan Co.” at www.bigassfans.com o Energy Star motors: We specify “Energy Star” and “Premium Efficiency” motors on new equipment and when replacing motors whenever possible.
  • Air Conditioning: To minimize electricity used for air conditioning the office, we use a programmable set-back thermostat. This controls the heater and air conditioner to only run during business hours and automatically adjusts the temperature to provide a good “short sleeve” working environment year round. We do regular preventative maintenance and filter changes to insure that the equipment runs at maximum efficiency.
  • Employee Transportation: Carpooling by employees is encouraged and supervisors help match-up employees. We actually have a good percentage of our employees, carpooling to work. We also encourage the use of Public Transportation. We have bicycle racks available on site for our most local of employees to secure their bikes (We also cover bicycle safety tips in our “Team Letter” from time to time).

Water Conservation: Though we do not really use water in our furniture manufacturing, we do have several conservation policies in place.

  • We have converted all of our toilets to 1.6 gal/flush units.
  • All sinks have water restrictors to limit water wasting.
  • We keep all water using equipment in good condition to avoid leaks and waste.
  • Our landscaping and irrigation system is designed to provide greenery with minimal water use.

Raw Materials: We work very hard to conserve raw materials both as a way to sustain the environment and also as a way to conserve expense.

  • Wood Optimization: We optimize our wood yields by use of computer programs that design cutting patterns to get the most out of every sheet of wood. Our computer numeric controlled (CNC) panel saw, machine centers and our skilled operators use these optimization tools to get the best quality parts with the least amount of waste.
  • Certain internal parts that do not show are cut from various species of wood scrap. For example: A dining table that features Rift Cut Red Oak as its base material may have internal flanges or leg plates made from an equally good piece of Birch left over from a previous cutting pattern. The two woods are structurally equivalent so we can be flexible when choosing wood for these internal parts.
  • Buying in bulk: Whenever practical, we buy materials bulk packaged to reduce wasted packing materials and transportation costs.

Blanket Wrap Shipping: While we lack confidence in the long distance trucking industry to safely transport and deliver blanket wrapped fine case goods furniture on a consistent basis, we do have a few programs in use.

  • Local Deliveries: In the Los Angeles metro area we feel confident enough in our delivery service to offer “Blanket Wrap” delivery. This saves most of the packaging material normally protecting the shipment.
  • Trade Show Samples: When we are able to transport trade show samples ourselves, we use blankets instead of cartons. If we must use cartons, we recycle them for future use.
  • Evaluating Options: We will continue to consider a “Blanket Wrap” option for the future. If we feel confident that we can get the products to the customer in good condition every time, we would love to give the customer the option. In the meantime we will continue to carton with mostly recycled materials.

Recycling: Creative Elegance is a huge recycler. We consider this as one of the biggest ways we can have a positive effect on the environment. Recycling not only conserves resources and energy, it also reduces pollution and the amount of waste going into landfills.

Wood Waste: We are currently recycling our wood waste by sending it to Athens Disposal’s “MRF” (Material Recycling Facility). At this center our scraps are combined with those from other sources and diverted to companies that can convert this wood back into a useful form. In the future, we may actually grind up our waste in house for recycling in order to reduce transportation bulk and costs.
Finishing Material wastes:
We accumulate the waste and send it to a licensed recycling company that converts it into fuel used in cement manufacturing. This eliminates most of the waste and recovers the valuable energy potential left in the material.
Metals:
Most metal waste and obsolete hardware is saved up until we have enough to take to a metal recycling center.

Cardboard:

  • We produce very little scrap cardboard from our packing operation because we have techniques that utilize even small pieces to protect our products during shipping.
  • Small boxes from raw material purchases are usually recycled to send out repair parts, catalogs, etc.
  • Other cardboard waste is collected along with pallets and crates and held for pickup by enterprising recyclers that patrol our area.

E-Waste, Batteries ad Light Bulbs: We collect all forms of e-waste from old computers, machine parts, batteries, and light bulbs. We even encourage employees to bring batteries and light bulbs form home if they do not have a way to recycle on their own. About once a year we take this accumulation to a licensed recycler.

Paper: Every two years, we send all of our obsolete paper including old documents, sales materials etc. to a commercial shredder. This protects us and our customers from potential identity theft and puts the paper pulp back into the material stream.
Rags:
The rags we use for staining and cleaning are made of cotton and are professionally laundered in an environmentally controlled way. This allows us to reuse them many times and captures any would be pollution for proper disposal. This is the most sustainable method.
Other Trash:
Our remaining waste stream is sent to Athens Disposals “MRF” for additional sorting and recycling. This is one of the most state of the art facilities in the country. Check it out at www.athensdisposal.com

Pollution Prevention: This is another area that every company should be working hard to do the best job they can. All manufacturing creates at least a little pollution, even if it is just from the energy it consumes. Making furniture is no exception. But how you go about making the furniture can make a huge difference. People need furniture and will buy it from someone. Isn’t it better if the furniture is made by an environmentally concerned American company like Creative Elegance instead of someone who doesn’t care and has a culture of cheating whenever they can?

Volatile Organic Compounds: History: VOC’s are chemical compounds found in paints, finishing materials, glues, lubricants and many other materials. They evaporate into the atmosphere and combine with other elements to create air pollution. These are different than the pollutants from combustion. In addition to polluting the atmosphere and contributing to “smog”, VOCs often affect “Indoor Air Quality” as well. Creative Elegance by virtue of its location in southern California has been working for many years to reduce the VOC levels in its finishing materials. (These efforts started as far back as 1983) All of the regulations that have slowly been adapted in many other parts of the country started here in California. The pressure on the paint suppliers to develop cleaner technology also originated from the needs of the California woodworking industry. Through the years, Creative Elegance has been testing and using the latest “state of the art” coatings to not only comply, but to exceed these strict regulations. We always questioned why so many other companies fought this process while we tried to embrace it.

Requirements: While reducing VOC was the main goal of the AQMD, we also wanted to maintain a superior finish quality and durability. We also didn’t want to increase the amount of toxic chemicals in the formulation as many water based paints tended to do.

Our Current solutions:

  • Wood Finishes: We currently use low VOC products from the Sherwin Williams Company (www.sherwinwilliams.com). Sealers and top coats are conversion varnishes that achieve high performance, durability and low VOC emissions. Because of the cross linking chemistry of the catalyst system, these finishes are more completely cured by the time they get to the consumer and therefore contribute less to indoor air quality issues than most finishes on the market. We have had these finishes tested and they were found to pass the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacture’s Association’s standard for durability and chemical resistance.
  • Contact Cement: We use 3M’s Fastbond 30 contact cement. This is a high performance water based adhesive with an extremely low VOC of only 0.31 lbs/gal.
  • Wood Glue: We use Franklin Tightbond glues. They are water based and extremely low VOC. In some applications, we use “radio frequency curing to create a faster, better bond.
  • Other considerations: Although not regulated for maintenance and general cleaning materials, we do take VOC into consideration when purchasing these products. We also use pump sprays instead of aerosols whenever practical.

Dust Collection: While wood dust in the furniture industry is usually only considered as an employee health and fire hazard issue, here in southern California we take extra steps to also protect the environment. The program is called PM10 and the goal is to prevent light weight dust (in the 10 micron size family) from getting into the air. After our “state of the art” dust collection system collects the dust from our woodworking machines, the air is also filtered before it is exhausted outside. The dust is accumulated in a sealed hopper and then bagged for proper disposal. By taking this extra step, dust is prevented from blowing out of trash bins or trucks and entering the air. We know of no other place in the country that goes to this length to keep dust out of the air.
Rain Water Runoff:
Another benefit of our PM10 program is that when it rains, there is very little dust to wash off the property and into storm drains. We also protect against this type of pollution by keeping trash bins covered at any hint of rain and clean up trash spills immediately.

Maintenance and Janitorial Practices:
Maintenance:

All potentially polluting maintenance products such as used oil, hydraulic fluids, etc. are recycled by the service providers we use or added to our finishing materials waste stream that we accumulate and then send out for recycling. All used batteries and light bulbs are also accumulated then recycled. We even separate the oil out of compressor condensation before it is disposed of.
Cleaning Products:
As more and more products are becoming available in “Green “formulations we are trying them out and changing to them. Looking for the “Green Guard” seal or the “EPP” (Environmentally Preferred Product) logo can help be your guide. These products are not only less harmful to the environment; they are also less toxic to the Janitor.
Sanitary Products:
We also attempt to use sanitary products that are made in environmentally conscious ways such as, un-bleached paper towels.

In the Office:
Our efforts to be more sustainable don’t stop with our products and factory; they extend into our office and home life as well.
Tree-Free Goal:
We have established a “Tree Free” policy that we are working on implementing in our office. The goal is to reduce the use of paper as much as possible. This is an easy program to get started on, but as the easy projects are completed, the remaining ones become more and more difficult and expensive to fully implement. We now fax or e-mail order confirmations and many other types of correspondence. When we buy our next large printer, it will be capable of two sided printing and that will make conserving paper easier.
Employee Training:
Office employees are also trained on our goals for sustainability and contribute ideas. They actively assist customers and our sales reps with information on our sustainability programs.

Computers: How a company uses its computers can make a big difference on how much energy they consume and whether they end up as pollution or raw materials ready for reuse. We have already made many changes in our computer policies, such as:

  • Turning them off--when not in use. We now have a policy to turn off most of our computers when not in use. This takes a little extra time in the mornings to start them back up and update programs and virus protection, but the savings in energy are substantial. We also have monitors set up to automatically turn off if the computer sits idle for more than a few minutes.
  • Recycling: When we replace computer equipment (and all other e-waste) we accumulate it until we have a batch, then we have it recycled.
  • Replacements: As we need to replace computer equipment, we take into consideration energy efficiency to insure that the new equipment uses less power than the one we are replacing. We also consider repairing the old computer if practical. Extending the life of the old computer saves the resources that would have gone in to the new one. Of course with the rapid improvement of newer computers, this often doesn’t pencil out.

Market Showroom:
First of all let us say that the whole way the furniture industry uses trade shows to introduce new items is crazy and is a very unsustainable approach in general. Paying rent all year on a showroom to be used only a few times a year, and having dealers and designers travel all over the country to multiple shows is very wasteful. Having said that, this is the system our industry uses, so in the near term, we need to make the most of it and operate as efficiently as we can.

  • WMC Las Vegas Is a Green Building: This Market center has some distinct advantages over the other trade shows around the country.
  • Location: By having the shows in Las Vegas, many attendees will be combining working the show with a vacation in one of the most popular destinations in the country. (We have some dealers that justify an occasional trip to the Milan fair this same way). A duel purpose trip is more “carbon footprint” efficient than two separate trips.
  • A Compact Show: Another aspect of the Las Vegas show is that all of the showrooms are together on one campus with efficient bus transportation available from many hotels to the Market. This makes the show more convenient to get around and saves time and resources.
  • Green Building: The World Market Center Las Vegas is a collection of new “state of the art” green buildings. Please see their website at www.lasvegasmarket.com for more info.
  • The Creative Elegance Showroom: Located in the World Market Center Las Vegas, our showroom is in the most energy efficient and environmentally “Green” furniture showcase in the country. In addition to the Building and the “Green” education programs sponsored during markets, Creative Elegance also:
  • Recycles the packing materials we use to carton our market samples.
  • Educates our customers with “point of sale” displays, brochures and knowledgeable sales and customer service staff. Our goal is to explain and promote our sustainability programs and point out the distinctions between the way we do things and almost all of our competitors.

Materials: Careful selection of suppliers and materials can give us the cutting edge contemporary style our customer’s desire and be friendly to the environment as well. That is our goal.

  • Supply Chain: o Vendors: Our first challenge is to find and buy from good vendors. We generally select U.S. companies that are well established and have good reputations. Some hardware items and glass products come from Europe or the Far East. As a smaller company, we must depend on our vendors to source these items responsibly and monitor quality and social equity conditions.
  • Vendor Code of Conduct: Currently we rely on an informal system of expectations from our vendors. We plan to introduce a much more formal system soon to better insure that our vendors know what our requirements and expectations are. Part of this new system will be a “Vendor Code of Conduct” memo of understanding. We feel this will help insure that we know who we are dealing with and at the same time, promote our agenda for sustainability. Part of our code of conduct will focus on our vendor’s sustainability and also that of their sources. Human rights issues, as well as, “Green “issues will be included. We will add our Vendor Code of Conduct to this document when it’s ready.
  • Try to “Buy Local”: One of the tenants of good sustainability is to attempt to reduce “carbon footprint” by buying as local as is practical. For example: we are in California so if we can buy MDF board from California or Oregon it would be better than from Canada. Just like it is more sustainable for our customers to buy furniture made in America than all the way from China. It really gets ridiculous when an American buys furniture made in China with wood grown in America. Look at how many miles that wood had traveled in ships that are the biggest polluters of any form of transportation. So as much as practical we try to buy local.
  • Buying in Bulk: By buying our materials in larger quantities and with minimal packaging, we are able to cut down on the transportation impact. We have arrangements with several vendors to buy in larger quantity and then warehouse part of the shipment for us. This way we can get all of the sustainability advantages of the larger orders and the convenience of “just-in time” delivery.
  • Wood: Wood is our most important raw material and therefore is our biggest focus for our sustainability program. o Certified Wood: This falls into two groups. “FSC” (Forest Stewardship Council) certified wood; and wood from forests that are certified to employ sustainable practices (logs are not individually tracked). The FSC wood is inspected by a third party, certified, tracked and documented through a “chain of custody” paper trail. This is the elite certified wood specified in the highest end architectural projects. It is extremely expensive at this point and therefore not used much in furniture yet. It is our hope that the FSC wood will eventually catch on to the point that it is more available and affordable. In the mean time, we are using wood obtained from highly reliable suppliers such as Columbia Forest Products www.columbiaforestproducts.com. Almost all of the wood this company sells is from properly managed and sustainable forests here in America. They are members of the FSC and an industry leader in environmental issues.
  • Reconstituted Wood: Two of the exotic woods we offer, Ebony and Zebra, are actually made from non-endangered wood spices that have been “reconstructed” to look exactly like the rare species they represent. They cost about the same as the rare species but are totally sustainable and are much more consistently beautiful than the originals.
  • Recycled Content: Most of the wood we use is hardwood plywood made with the highest grades of premium wood veneers such as “Select White Birch” or “Rift-cut Red Oak”. These veneers are laminated with “Pure-bond” or other formaldehyde free adhesives to a premium MDF (medium density fiberboard) core. This core material was originally selected for its superior stability, consistency and warp resistance. Currently our MDF cores come from mostly recycled or recovered wood fibers. The resigns used to make this product originally had a lot of formaldehyde in them, but this has been reduced continually over the last few decades and has been significantly reduced for California. We use these new very low formaldehyde products for all of our customers, not just the ones in California. This is a sustainable product that is becoming even greener.
Upholstery fabrics and materials: Creative Elegance uses foam and fabrics that comply with California’s strict codes for flammability. Although we are not currently using foams based on Soy products or other new materials we are testing and evaluating them on an ongoing basis. Cost and function are keys issues at play on this subject and more work must be done to make inroads commercially successful. In the meantime many fabrics including our main suede program from Toray (www.ultrasuede.com) have converted their materials to 100% recycled content as part of their EcoDesign program...
  • Packing Materials: As discussed previously, Creative Elegance embraces recycled materials wherever possible for its packaging process. From the recycled content in our cardboard to formed edge and corner protectors made from 100% recycled paper pulp, these materials are not only better for the environment, but also extremely durable and beneficial in protecting our fine furniture. Most dealers and or consumers are able to recycle these materials very easily adding another dimension of sustainability to the equation. Thank you for taking the time to read and understand where Creative Elegance stands on the environment and our role in its preservation. We hope this gives you good insight to the benefits and advantages of dealing with a U.S. based company of character. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us via our website at www.creativeelegance.com.

Respectfully submitted by Aaron and Mark Popel