Australian Fine Artist

Analyse and Implement a Sustainable Work Practice

Wednesday 30th May, 2012

Today as part of the Visual Arts Course we had the obligatory session about sustainability and environmentally sound work practice as artists. This is not a new subject for me as I studied OH&S last year in two separate courses. The additional topic here was planning a business that looks into where you source your materials from, how you use the tools and business infrastructure such as power etc and how you dispose of materials.

Sound business means that you set up your business with low usage of things like power consumption and petrol as you can – as well as making sure that your footprint on the environment is as small as you can make it. From a business point of view it means your running costs will be lower and the business has a longer life. It also means that you are a responsible member of the society you are in and selling to.

Our business is very young yet but we are building a premises that will be insulated so well that very little heating and cooling will be required. We are planning a new smaller van for pick ups and deliveries that will probably be running on an electric motor rather than petrol. We are planting trees on the property and landscaping. We are removing old sheds that were built using asbestos sheeting. We have a recycle policy set up in the office. We test our printers for safer inks. We use a recycle station for all old computers, printers, scanners etc. We are replacing lighting with lower voltage lights, we have replaced computers and monitors for ones that use less power.

When we began rebuilding the old farm building for the business to use, we planned a thick floor that would make sure that the building would not only be very strong but also insulated from the floor up from damp and cold. Future plans include solar panels on the roof, installation of rain tanks and a septic system that is environmentally friendly and pumps clean water out onto the paddocks for good grazing all year round. We have plans for a ventilation system with exhaust fans and filters for the art room area to help make it more OH&S friendly. We are also planting trees and native bushes around the property to invite local wildlife back – this is working very well so far.

The hidden side of running an environmentally sustainable and OH&S aware business is looking at the hidden issues. Do you keep your old monitor on the computer? Well if it’s an old CRT monitor it probably has issues with power consumption, it probably emits dangerous X-rays that are especially dangerous for pregnant women and the resolution is probably causing eye strain. Older computers and monitors also get hot and affect the heating and cooling of offices. Replacement of older materials and equipment can often be more environmentally wise as well as business smart. Disposal can take a bit more research but we are making good progress in this area.

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