Beauty from waste – Why Artifact Uprising mindfully sources its materials

Protecting our places: Company CEO on doing well by doing good

If you call the Rocky Mountains of Colorado home, it’s safe to say your days are bettered by these wild outdoor spaces. As human beings, we’re inclined to pay attention to what we see and feel in our near surroundings – these are what affect our perceptions most strongly. That’s one of the main reasons I moved to Colorado in 2005 and – without surprise – have yet to look back. I’ve always had a strong admiration for the outdoors and wanted to surround myself with the places I care about most.

One of the things I’ve noticed over the years is the more time you spend in these places, the more you understand how fragile they are. Whether you’re camping, hiking, skiing or climbing, you start to notice how each action adds up to take a heavy toll on these lands. It makes you think, “How can I change this? How can I do more than just pick up trash on my hike? How can I really make an impact?”

When I was introduced to Artifact Uprising more than three years ago, I was excited by the opportunity to take a look at the startup’s budding business and offer creative approaches to marketing and e-commerce.

But with a closer look, I was drawn to the people – the small team consisted of likeminded entrepreneurs dedicated to finding a better way. Understanding the impact business choices can have on our ability to write a better story, these men and women were dedicated to instilling purpose within their product – and to using materials that matter.

Artifact Uprising has shown me you can use business as a platform to make impact in a way that’s simply un-scalable as an individual. I used to believe organizations were either merciless, for-profit companies or humanitarian non-profit companies – but that’s just not true. You can do well as a company by doing good in the world.

Since those early days, we’ve held true to our internal product philosophy, using it as a guiding compass to navigate each decision. Our philosophy is simple: We build products we believe in – products that we would be proud to share with those we love. We first ask ourselves, “Does it matter? Does it solve a need?”

One of the materials we’re proudest of is our mountain beetle pine. In our Rocky Mountains, more than 4 million acres of pine trees have fallen due to a beetle epidemic – trees viewed as waste.

Our company is now the largest consumer of this reclaimed wood in the U.S., creating new purpose from an otherwise storied past. We’re able to utilize this reclaimed wood in products like our wood calendars, wooden box and wood block and prints.

When Artifact Uprising launched about four and a half years ago, it was one of the first companies in its industry to put responsible sourcing at the forefront of product creation. At that time, few people were talking about sustainability in this way or taking pride in the materials they used – it was difficult to find the why behind products.

Since, more photo goods companies are looking at post consumer waste and FSC certified materials. Better yet, consumers are driving this conversation by getting curious and asking questions about the products they’re considering. Buyers now work to identify with companies that share similar values, that they can support on a deeper level.

This was one of the driving forces behind the launch of our Materials Matter Campaign. We wanted to make sure our community knew the background behind the products we offered and why we chose to produce them using the materials we did. From using 100 percent post-consumer fiber in our hardcover and softcover book pages, to partnering with Solidwool to produce a calendar clipboard composed of fleece from upland UK sheep, the company aims to leave the tiniest footprint possible.

Do we have it all figured out? Of course not – and we’ll be the first to admit it. But we strive to be transparent in our efforts toward walking a better path and are grateful for the platform we’ve built to share our journey along the way.

We believe responsible sourcing is important – and is an important story to tell. 

Categories: Management & Leadership