Green Rings & Things : Our Efforts to Help the Environment
Save the Bees! (and other Pollinators)
At Rings & Things, we love food (who doesn't?), and many of us love gardening, too. Naturally, we're concerned about the declining bee population. When we discovered the Pollinator Partnership, we knew we wanted to help fund, and bring attention to, the work they do. So ... any time you purchase bee-themed items from our website, you're helping to save the bees! A portion of all purchases of items from our "Bee Charms, Beads and Jewelry-Making Tools" now goes to the Pollinator Partnership. We plan on expending this program to other pollinators, such as bats, butterflies and beetles, soon. Stay tuned!
SMART Award for Waste Reduction & Transportation
Rings & Things was in the first group of businesses to be certified sustainable by the City of Spokane, WA, for implementation of green and sustainable management practices. We were awarded certification in the categories of Waste Reduction and of Transportation, as part of the city's SMART (Sustainable Management of Assets, Resources and Technology) Business Recognition Program.
CTR Awards for Commute Alternatives
Rings & Things gained recognition for its ongoing efforts to divert as much material as possible from the waste stream both in its warehouse and at community events, as well as for its award-winning voluntary participation in the statewide Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) program.
The SMART Program is designed to encourage Spokane businesses to adopt policies and practices that encourage good management of financial, built, natural and human capital. The program was developed by the city's Business & Development Services Department in partnership with Avista, Eastern Washington University, and the Washington State Department of Ecology.
At Rings & Things, we actively promote commuting alternatives through our city's Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) program, using tools such as https://commutesmartnw.org/. Over the years, we have won a variety of awards for our commitment to "greening" our commutes. Here are a few highlights:
- April 2009: R&T is awarded a worksite commute bike by Spokane's mayor. Now employees can run errands without burning gasoline!
- January 2009: R&T wins a second Pinnacle Award. The Pinnacle Award is given to just 3 employers in our state each year.
- September 2008: R&T receives the Washington State Governor's Award for Outstanding Achievement by a CTR Voluntary Employer.
- January 2007: R&T wins a 2006 Pinnacle Award.
- September 2006: R&T's Employee Transportation Coordinator, Selina Shehan, wins the September All-Star Coach Award.
WSRA Recycling Hall of Fame
On May 1, 2012, the Washington State Recycling Association (WSRA) inducted Rings & Things' founder & co-owner Russ Nobbs into the WSRA Recycling Hall of Fame!
The award came as the result of over 20 years of tireless and vigilant volunteer work which Russ has accomplished, spearheading recycling programs at public events in and around Spokane, WA. Congratulations, Russ!
Recycling, Reducing, Reusing & More
Rings & Things works hard to tread lightly on the planet! Pictured to the right is our break-room recycling center, just one of many recycling centers in our warehouse. We not only provide receptacles for the usual suspects, but also for items the city's recycling pick-up service won't take. We even dismantle our old coffee makers and small appliances, in order to recycle parts like the copper in the cords.
Former employee Jordan Earnest says "After working here, I've seen that you can recycle most garbage. I had no idea before. At Rings & Things, we only fill one garbage can per day with trash ... for 70-80 people in one place, that's incredible!"
Ways we reduce, reuse, recycle and work to benefit the planet:
- Collect office recyclables including white paper, mixed paper, heavy paper, corrugated cardboard and batteries. There's even a "Technotrash" receptacle for recycling larger electronics equipment. Employees can bring in personal items if they don't have a good way to recycle those items from home.
- Use eco-friendly packing peanuts made of cornstarch, whenever possible, instead of styrofoam. How reusable are they? These "peanuts" are edible! (But we don't recommend the flavor!)
- Re-use packing materials from shipments we receive, including cardboard boxes.
- Repurpose heavy paper-towel tubes for packaging nonstick metal-clay work surfaces.
- Use a tankless water heater in our warehouse that heats small amounts of water only as needed. This saves money and conserves energy that would otherwise be wasted to keep unneeded water hot. (According to one estimate, U.S. consumers have wasted over six billion dollars since July 2006 keeping unused water reserves hot in homes and businesses.)
- Sell cottage-industry items. Recycled-glass beads from Africa and Indonesia, resin beads from Indonesia, and Karen Hill Tribe fine silver from Thailand help sustain traditional, low-impact lifestyles on our planet.
- Print our catalogs and supplements on recycled paper when possible. (We always use 100% recycled electrons to publish our e-mailings and website!).
- Keep our web pages fast to download. This not only makes them easier to use, but also minimizes computer power usage and reduces the carbon footprint for both us and you, our customers.
- Take special measures in summer and winter to reduce heating and air-conditioning use while keeping comfortable temperatures in our warehouse.
- Sponsor recycling at community events like the annual Spokane arts & crafts fair, Artfest. The program includes providing recycling receptacles for both patrons and sellers, culling recyclables that get put in the trash, sorting all collected recyclables and overseeing pick-up by a local recycling processor. This process doesn't just reduce what goes in the landfill; it also saves event sponsors a lot of money in dumping fees. In recent years, we've also enlisted aid from the Spokane-area Master Composters and Recyclers, to help divert compostable food waste into Clean Green compostables at ArtFest.
- Participate in community events like the Spokane River Cleanup. In a recent year, the Cleanup's 750 volunteers collected 12,000 pounds (6 tons) of garbage along the Spokane River's banks. Better yet, the City of Spokane was able to recycle 2,500 pounds of it!
- Support other community events.
What You Can Do to be Green
Businesses often claim that implementing environmentally friendly practices will hurt the bottom line, but Rings & Things has been disproving this claim for years! We've diverted uncountable pounds of recyclables and re-usable items from the waste stream, saving money and resources, for nearly 50 years. Founder Russ even took coffee grounds and food scraps from the breakroom to use in his composting pile at home, and daughter (now President of Rings & Things) has continued in his foodsteps, er, footsteps.
Business owners can learn about Earth-friendly practices, Earth Day events and environmental news at the Earth Day Network