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Golden Artist Colors, Inc. factory in Upstate New York

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How Green is GOLDEN? Comments made in a blog post by Mark Golden….


 
I need to share right at the beginning that almost all of our acrylic components are made of compounds derived currently from non-renewable resources from either the oil or gas industry. That is a given. So to speak of ‘green’, for some might seem a bit contrived. But as I’ve shared with colleagues here, as we determine our direction for the future, what we’ve tried to accomplish is being a socially responsible company. 
 
Many companies talk of ‘green’ as the complete goal of their organization. Enough ‘greenwashing’ has been perpetrated on the public to guarantee most consumers are overwhelmed trying to make sense of all the claims. Others have assumed that any product marked as ‘environmentally friendly’ must be so, because regulatory agencies wouldn’t allow any claims that aren’t proven in fact. I believe we all want to make the best choices for ourselves, our children’s children and our planet. But how do we do it with so many competing claims. 
 
Over the years, I’ve asked our company to do more than simply be green. I don’t think that alone can create the future we aspire to. The mission of our company “To grow a sustainable company dedicated to creating and sharing the most imaginative and innovative tools of color, line and texture for inspiring those who turn their vision into reality”, begins with what is to me, the most important concept in social responsibility… sustainability.  
 
To me sustainability recognizes that first; we are only stewards for what we’ve created here. That as such we are expected to leave the land, this place, the people, and our community in a better condition than we found it. That we expect those that follow us to do the same. That this small community we’ve created here at Golden Artist Colors is part of an ecology of our joined lives of our staff, our local community, the greater worldwide arts community and our planet. And we are responsible, in some measure, if we are to grow within it, to do all we can to sustain it. 
 
For us that means several things. Although we are fortunate to be able to draw wonderfully fresh water right from wells on our property at very little cost, we are also responsible to use this water as carefully as if we’ve had to pay dearly for it. For this reason we embarked years ago on a plan to reuse all our water. We are currently at a level of 75% recycling of our water, and hope within the near future to be able to recycle all the water in our facility. 
 
How we dispose of waste is as important as how we make our product. We currently have nine different recycling waste streams here at GOLDEN, including cardboard, paper, waste oil, batteries, plastic, electronic equipment, wire, cans, fluorescent bulbs. Until we create a totally closed system, our waste water, lab chemicals and waste solids are monitored in a program to assure that these materials are carefully and correctly disposed of. Internally we have systems throughout the facility to assure that we are collecting dust particles to avoid venting them to the outside air. We have also installed air scrubbers throughout the shop so that we can maintain a healthy environment internally, without simply exhausting process fumes outdoors. 
 
Part of creating a sustainable company is also creating a safe place to work. One that recognizes the greatest responsibility we have to one another working at Golden Artist Colors. Our folks within this factory have the greatest potential of exposure to hazardous chemicals. Our first operational plan is to keep refining our processes internally so that we can eliminate the most dangerous materials in the work place and to replace them in our formulations with safer materials. This obviously benefits both our customers and our staff. This requires significant resources from our R&D group as this must be balanced with the responsibility we also have to all the artists that depend upon us to protect the longevity and legacy of their work for centuries to come. So in cases where we have not yet found suitable replacements for these potentially toxic chemicals, we need to make sure that we first provide passive mechanical means to reduce exposure of all our team. These include the various scrubbers, hoods and dust collectors throughout the shop, but just as essential and sometimes overlooked, is just keeping the factory clean. I’ve visited so many different factories and it is easy to separate those that maintain excellent hygiene and those that do not. You can see it at first glance just looking down the aisles. Finally, where needed to reduce exposure to these materials even further, we require that staff use personal protective equipment, including gloves, masks and in some cases in working with pigment, full suits and respirators. We work hard to keep exposure to chemicals and pigments well below approved thresholds. 
 
I think we are all aware of changes that occur to these chemical thresholds as new data is researched. Materials we once thought of as completely safe suddenly appear with new warnings. So if we seem to be overly cautious, we are. Our greatest assets are the folks here, and we hope that as employee owners of Golden Artist Colors they will be able to enjoy in good health, the fruits of their labors. 
 
We’ve also expanded this caution to our labeling of our product for our customers. Although most companies have relinquished the labeling standards responsibility to other agencies governed by art materials manufacturing groups we have felt we could provide greater information to artists by using even more robust standards. We are confident that our products are quite safe for artists use, yet we maintain the stance that these are professional products and should be used in a manner that observes basic industrial hygiene. If customers choose to use other brands because they are not labeled as such or labeled with “non-toxic”, that is their choice. But the paints they are using are likely no safer than ours. 
 
Many companies have chosen, because they make waterborne paints, to say their products are “green” and certainly waterborne is a more green alternative, yet I think we’ll just stay who we are.
 
 

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