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April 20, 2023 5 minute READ

Mark Earth Day with a Plan for Action

tags Behind the Scenes | Inspiration
locations All
Lights in North America - Photo from NASA

The lucky few who have seen the Earth from a different perspective – astronauts - all echo the same viewpoint upon their return. Yuri Gagarin, a Russian cosmonaut and the first human to go to space, commented, “Orbiting Earth in the spaceship, I saw how beautiful our planet is. People, let us preserve and increase this beauty, not destroy it.”

A Change in Perspective

Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon, observed, “It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.”

Sometimes, when you see things differently, that different perspective can be overwhelming. It’s a little thing – we know what the Earth looks like, but being struck by how small it appears from orbit or the surface of the moon made a life-changing impression on these two men. It can be the same way with adopting practices to reduce the impact on the environment. 

The first celebration of Earth Day was in 1970 – just a year after the Cuyahoga River caught on fire. It was in the same year that the Environmental Protection Agency was established to help put an end to dumping toxic chemicals in waterways and unprotected sites. It also led to research that is helping us understand the long-term impacts of manufacturing processes and how they can be improved. 

Thinking about the “big blue marble,” as the Earth is referred to in numerous photos shared by NASA, we’ve come to realize that our resources are finite and need to be conserved. The Mast Store implemented several practices starting in 2007 to become more efficient in our consumption of water and energy. Some of them are long-term solutions, while others we were able to realize a savings almost immediately. 

In 2007, we began installing low-flow faucet aerators in all locations and as toilets needed replacing or new stores were built, the new installations were more efficient power flush models. The result is realizing a reduction in water consumption even while adding store locations. It is important to note that there will always be variables that are uncontrollable, but the number of gallons used in 2019 was down more than a third even with the addition of two additional locations. 

Our electricity usage was also reviewed for ways to reduce consumption. In 2007, as heat pumps needed replacing, their efficiency and the type of usage was more closely matched to each location. In other words, if a store would be using more air conditioning, a unit that is highly efficient in AC would be chosen for them and vice versa. The result made only a small increase in total energy units between 2007 and 2019, including the addition of two locations. The recognized variables here would be warmer than average summers or colder than average winters, but there is still an overall savings by moving toward efficiencies.

Pallets of plastic packaging awaiting pickup.Also included in the electricity audit was changing light fixtures to LED lighting as the life cycle of older units comes to an end. 

The Mast Store is far from being as “green” as we’d like to be, but we are taking steps toward sustainability. For a number of years, we have captured the plastic bags used for shipping mostly apparel and saved those for recycling. On average, we send 30 pallets of baled plastic bags to become decking (180 bales). Thirteen skids were picked up from our worldwide headquarters just two weeks ago. 

Socks are one of the most hard-to-recycle items that we use every day. Mast Store is partnering with Smartwool as a collection point for the 2nd Cut Project. Initially, this program was only open to employees. After a few months, we had accumulated 136.7 pounds of socks to keep out of the landfill. These socks will make their way to Smartwool’s manufacturing partner, Material Return, to become dog beds and possibly other products. 

Give Socks a Second Chance

Sock recycling box.Great news! If you have socks you’d like to bring in for recycling, we are ready to accept them, but there are a few parameters that need to be met. First, they MUST be clean. Second, they must be clean. And third, they can be any manufacturer, any material, intact or have holes in them, have mates or be singles – it doesn’t matter, as long as they are clean. Just bring them to any Mast Store location the next time you’re in town. We’ll be happy to take them to be a part of the circularity to become something else that’s new and useful.

In conclusion, it’s important for all of us to consider our actions and how they impact our neighbors, our children, and our planet. There are many simple things to do to celebrate Earth Day every day – recycling, making thoughtful purchases, refilling your own water bottle, willingness to consider items made from recycled content,, and more. As, cosmonaut Vladimir Kovalyov observed from his time in space, “After an orange cloud – formed as a result of a dust storm over the Sahara and caught up by air currents – reached the Philippines and settled there with rain, I understood that we are all sailing in the same boat.”


Top Photo:
NASA Earth Observatory image by Robert Simmon, using Suomi NPP VIIRS data provided courtesy of Chris Elvidge (NOAA National Geophysical Data Center). Suomi NPP is the result of a partnership between NASA, NOAA, and the Department of Defense. Caption by Mike Carlowicz.

Published November 28, 2012
Data acquired April 18 - October 23, 2012

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