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Sustainabilitas: fall 2023 edition

In January of this year, we mentioned our latest core value, Sustainabilitas. Yes, our core values are Latinish as well, but if you’re here, you probably knew we were nerds.

Here are our latest updates and a plea for assistance. 


Shipping is, hands down, one of our biggest footprints. We address that in a couple of ways.

On a very low level, we moved our website to Shopify a few years ago, and a perk of using them is that orders placed through ShopPay are automatically carbon neutral, at no cost to the customer. We had hoped to integrate an option for customers to opt in and add about $1 to offset their shipping but we were unable to find one that worked with our back end, so that plan is on hold for the moment. In the meantime, we have become a brand partner of Sea Trees. As of 2023, we are certified Ocean Positive: we are sequestering more carbon than we create as a company, which has  a positive impact on the ocean and the life it supports. The caveats about offsets remain: they aren’t perfect, but to my knowledge, we still don’t have a better option.

Packaging (aka we’re looking for an assist here)

Earlier this year we moved toward kraft boxes and stopped including screws that most customers said they didn’t use. 

We’ve been working with our manufacturer to look for package inserts that will hold modules in place in boxes so we can stop using bubble wrap, but so far haven’t been able to find anything that is 1. Cost effective, 2. Sustainable, and 3. Doesn’t have a minimum order quantity of 10,000 or more. For a modular company, 10,000 is… a lot of something. We have a line on foam inserts, but I’m not sure those are any better than plastic bags. We’re actively investigating whether there are options made from sustainable materials.

If any of you reading this work in this industry and want to talk, hit that support button and contact us.

We also worked with our manufacturer to phase out plastic tape in favor of paper tape, which made us very happy indeed. 

Use of Plastics

Our main use of plastics remains in the bags we ship in and our platform overlays. We remain convinced that plastic is the better material here: aluminum is heavy and shipping is way more laborious. Paperboard is disposable enough that we fear that the products would be so disposable that we’d be shipping new ones far too frequently. 

With the advent of the Alia overlays, we’re moving to PCB material for overlays. While we no longer will have the advantage of a local supplier, we will be able to purchase in bulk, allowing us to have fewer shipments, and to bring the cost of the overlays down for our customers.

However, if the thought of using plastic skeeves you out, we continue to make printable panels available, totally free, for all the platform modules on the World of Versio/Legio/Alia pages.

Some things haven’t changed

We have a fantastic manufacturing partner who also serves as our distributor. They are here in California, so shipping between us is close when it does need to happen. Products are built more or less as needed, held on site, and then shipped. As a result, we save a phenomenal amount on shipping costs: we don’t have to ship built products to another location to be warehoused and then shipped again. This model is the opposite of what big-box companies have to do to make it convenient to get things out the door for you in 24 hours, and is also one reason we don’t promise we will do that. Our shipping team works their butts off, but the team is small, and our model means sometimes things take a few days to get out the door. We’re okay with that and we hope you are too.

We are still a 100% remote company. We are still a 1% for the Planet member. We are still committed to supporting environmental conservation. Our shirts are still sourced from a local printer with shirts made from ecologically sustainable and ethically sourced cotton. 

Back where we ended

I’ll leave this the same place where we ended the last sustainability update: the road(map) is long, and we don’t see an end in sight (I recently saw one site that called their sustainability update an (in)Progress Report which I loved). We are still at the start of this and we hope to continue to adapt as new technologies and best practices become available. We won’t always be able to full-on adopt everything immediately, but we look forward to innovations as ways to improve.

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