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The City of Eugene recognized two Chamber of Commerce Member Businesses with the annual Bold Steps in Sustainability Award in January of 2023. We asked Forrest Technical Coatings (Winner: Large Business Category) and Threadbare Print House and Design Lab (Winner: Small Business Category) to share their thoughts on sustainability and what winning the award means to their businesses.
The Bold Steps in Sustainability Award recognizes Eugene businesses who stand apart as exceptional sustainability leaders in their industries and the community.
“The Finalists are businesses who have made sustainability a cornerstone of their operations and strategy,” says Deveron Musgrave, Waste Prevention Program Manager at the City of Eugene. A panel of local sustainability professionals and previous Bold Step Winners evaluate each year’s award nominees and pass their recommendations along to Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis. “This year’s winners, Threadbare and Forrest, prioritize sustainability in product design, operations, sourcing and many other aspects of their business.”
To apply for the Bold Steps Award, businesses must be BRING ReThink Certified and provide examples of their commitment to triple bottom line business practices as well as describing the “Boldest Step” toward sustainability that their business has taken that distinguishes them from others in their field. The Bold Steps finalist committee selects finalists in two categories—Large Business and Small Business—and the Mayor reveals the winner at Eugene’s annual State of the City address in January.
We asked Amy Baker, Founder, Threadbare Print House and Design Lab and Mark Forrest, CEO, FORREST Technical Coatings to share about their sustainability vision.
How does sustainability influence your business?
Amy: Threadbare is a commercial screen printing business that makes promotional products for businesses. We strive to be as sustainable as possible in an industry that is usually pretty toxic. We pick products with sustainability in mind and help our customers understand the supply chain and sustainable sourcing. We consider many factors in determining sustainability, including the origin of the materials we use and manufacturer employment and environmental practices. We also only use water-based inks, which distinguishes us from the majority of commercial screen printing businesses.
Mark: Forrest Technical Coatings has manufactured industrial and specialty coatings in Eugene for 50 years. We have found sustainability is not only good for the environment but is also good business. It has helped us develop market niches in more sustainable coatings such as powder coatings, low-VOC and high-solids paints, and innovative products that upcycle byproducts from other industries. We take a sustainability-first approach to environmental regulations as well. For instance, we commissioned a one-of-a-kind biological air filter to curb our emissions instead of opting for a conventional natural gas incinerator.
What has been your Boldest Step in sustainability?
Amy: We exclusively use water-based inks for screen printing, which is very unique in our industry. Commercial screen printers typically use plastisol inks that require harsh chemicals for cleanup. Water-based ink are more difficult to work with, but since it is all we do, we have gotten very good at it.
Mark: Our company took a leadership role in creating Oregon’s PaintCare recycling program in 2009, which was the first program of its kind in the United States. We were already recycling our own paint but recognized solving the problem on a larger scale would require industry-wide cooperation. The statewide recycling program is now well established and has been replicated in ten other states. Collectively, PaintCare programs nationwide have recycled 65 millions of gallons of paint and counting.
What does it mean to you to be recognized with the Bold Steps Award?
Amy: I was so honored Threadbare was chosen as a finalist for the Bold Steps Award. I have seen other businesses that I respect in town receive the award. This town is so supportive of small businesses. I hope that the world is changing in a way that businesses no longer focus just on profits, but understand the triple bottom line.
Mark: I am proud of the relationship we have with the community, especially as an industrial company based in Eugene. Being a good neighbor and a good employer are values that my father, Scott, prioritized since the beginning. We always try to stay a step ahead on sustainability for our industry and community.
Does your business have what it takes to be a Bold Steps Winner? Apply for the City of Eugene Mayor’s Bold Steps in Award in September and tell your sustainability story. For more information about the Bold Steps Award program, or to apply, visit: eugene-or.gov/BoldSteps.