Charles Sandford

Environmental sustainability has always been very important to us, and we're continually looking for ways to improve our production processes.

One obvious aspect of sustainability, which is too often overlooked, is the durability of the products we use in everyday life. So much is made to be used and thrown away, including plenty of furniture and even aspects of commercial building fit-outs. Our aim is to make timber objects that will stand the test of time, so the energy and materials used to make them are an investment in decades of use.

But we've also taken many specific steps to reduce energy use and wastage. The most obvious one, particularly if you ever happen to fly over the top of our Preston workshops, is our array of solar panels. We installed these in 2015 and currently have a total capacity of 30kW. We've also replaced all of our lights with energy-efficient LED lamps, and installed sensors to ensure that the lights only come on when they're needed. Charles Sandford solar panels

Charlie, our rooftop solar panel array and beyond, the Darebin Creek bushland.

We look to use recycled timbers as often as possible, including timbers reclaimed from fallen trees in locations like parks, gardens and golf courses. And we make regular donations to support the replanting of hardwood forests, as well as supporting the Friends of Darebin Creek, the community of volunteers who care for the waterway adjacent to our workshops.

When we pack objects and timber components for transport, we use recycled hessian coffee sacks instead of purpose-manufactured fillings or bubble wrap. And all of the wood shavings and timber offcuts generated during manufacturing processes are recycled – the shavings go to the pipe-laying industry and the offcuts are used as fuel for wood heaters.

While we don't do all of this for public recognition, we were very proud to win the 2016 Sustainability and Environment Award in the Northern Business Achievement Awards. We'll keep trying to be more sustainable in our work, and hopefully businesses like ours will set an example for others to improve their practices too.

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