Sustainability is Kindness: Our Story

As a kid I can remember when my sweet Italian grandmother, Lenora, would give me $2 to run down to the corner store. I feIt like I had the world at my fingertips even if it only meant a Charleston Chew and some Necco wafers.

Those days seemed so simple when helping a neighbor or serving the community was a part of everyday life.

My grandmother immigrated from Italy to the United States and my grandfather was a first generation Italian-American. Described as the “greatest generation” most people from that era were all about faith, family, and tradition.

Kristin_1My grandparents celebrating their
50th wedding anniversary.

Kristin_2Grandpa and his repurposed tie
(see previous photo).

Back then no one used the word “sustainability” but that didn’t matter. This generation paid attention to waste in their own way by reusing and repurposing many aspects of their day-to-day life, from shoelaces to newspapers. They lived their lives with a service mentality simply because it was the right thing to do. In other words, they were kind.

If you show up regularly with generosity, everything else is gonna take care of itself." - Seth Godin

Every company begins someplace and for my grandfather Ted Peluso, Shawmut started in the basement of his home in 1951. His creative idea for a Boston themed sports calendar, personalized with advertisements for local businesses, was variable data before the concept even existed.

Kristin and GrandparentsI’m grateful to still have this picture of me and my grandparents, Ted and Lenora Peluso. Although this photo has worn and faded though the years my admiration and love has not.

We still talk about Teddy’s work ethic today. Especially his drive to create deeper meaning and fulfillment at work. He’d donate leftover paper to local schools and gather the plain paper trimmings to bring to a toilet paper company. (These paper trimmings would then get ground into pulp for their manufacturing process.) In many ways, he was ahead of his time…

Which got us thinking about our current responsibility as a company. How could we improve our sustainable efforts and community service present day?

The first step was to take accountability for our facility and how it impacts our environment. In order to do this we sought out a third party, Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP) to help.

This nonprofits’ mission is to drive true transparency  in the print industry. From the start we appreciated that SGP’s certification is not just focused on one area. Here’s a great summary of how to gain certification written by the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association:

“SGP facilities must have an active sustainability management system; an annual continuous improvement project; bi-annual environmental, safety, health and energy audits; implement mandatory best management practices; and complete the program’s required metrics forms.”

We’re proud to say that Shawmut is now SGP certified. This took an incredible amount of teamwork to be the first commercial printer in the state of Massachusetts to do so. Certified with no corrective actions, meaning we got an A+.

Amazing as this all is, this certification is not a goal to be checked off and onto the next. And it’s much more than a “green logo” to place on our website.

It’s a way of life.

A fun example of this is “water cooler talk” I overheard recently. Only it didn’t happen at a water cooler, it was at one of our recycling stations. Two Shawmut employees were reading the sign about plastics. Here’s a snapshot of their conversation:

Cool Guy A: “Had no idea plastics were numbered.”
Cool Guy B: “Right? Plastic is everywhere. We have to do something about it.”
Cool Guy A: “Recycling is a good start but I think I’m going to bring in my own reusable water bottle, better to not use plastic at all.”
Cool Guy B: “Great idea, me too!”

Implementing new sustainable behaviors affect more than just our bottom line. It changes a person’s perspective, heart and habits. These changes, whether big or small, are all significant not only because our company becomes better, it’s because WE become better people. And, more kind in the process.

"Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind." - Henry James

Together the Shawmut team continues to put into practice these values of kindness and service. The breadth and diversity of our employees here is something special. We are a community. Each person contributing their own unique talents to the mosaic that is our Shawmut family.

We understand that sustainability is a continuous journey filled with lessons to learn. That’s ok, we’re ready.

Learn more about Shawmut's Environmental Policy and our Commitment to Sustainability

Tags: Sustainability, Company News

Picture of Kristin Spanier

Kristin Spanier

Kristin is a part of Shawmut's Business Development Team and also serves as the Sustainability Committee Chairperson and Team Lead. Kristin coordinates worldwide partnerships that establish Shawmut as a preferred sustainable vendor. These purposeful partnerships align with her intention to partner with brands that are socially responsible and sustainable to become a better steward within her community and the world. Find Kristin on Twitter @kristin_spanier and at kristinspanier.wordpress.com.

« Back to Blog