Getting to Know Thinktanks™
Why Thinktanks Produces Eco-Friendly Products
An inside look at an uncomprimising company.
We are exposed to lots of toxins throughout our lives, and fortunately our bodies are well-equipped to deal with most of them. Yet in our modern world, we’re seeing our exposure grow beyond what we’re naturally able to handle, so we've made an active choice to build safe products.
We recognize that our choice in building materials has an impact far beyond ourselves and our customers. The health of our own employees matters—we want them to have the same happy, healthy, productive lives that we’re trying to bring to every workplace.
Eco-friendly products are often seen as a more costly option, and although this is not entirely unwarranted, choosing to use not-so-green products to save money can be a false economy. Environmentally friendly products can save your company money in a number of ways.
Why Does “Eco-friendly” Matter?
These days eco-friendly products seem to be of greater interest than ever before. Everywhere you look, companies boast about using recycled materials, bpa-free plastics, solar power... Companies in every industry are recognizing that environmentally friendly products matter to their customers.
Consumers, too, are increasingly checking labels for harmful chemicals, drinking from reusable water bottles, carrying their groceries in canvas shopping bags, powering their devices with rechargeable batteries, and just generally looking for more green products. Even seemingly innocent plastic drinking straws have come under fire lately as consumers look for more eco-friendly alternatives.
Why does “eco-friendly” matter?
With all the effort people are making to reduce their carbon footprints, the question of ‘why?’ comes to mind. We see this as more than just a bandwagon, and there are a number of important reasons to use green products.
Toxic Exposure in the Office
We are exposed to lots of toxins throughout our lives, and fortunately our bodies are well-equipped to deal with most of them. Yet in our modern world, we’re seeing our exposure grow beyond what we’re naturally able to handle.
Air in a typical office has been found to contain polyfluorinated compounds (PFCs)—chemicals that are extremely slow to metabolize in our bodies and that build up over time.
These PFCs are released by seemingly-harmless products like carpet and furniture glue, among other sources. In animal studies, they’ve been shown to affect “lipid metabolism, liver health, development, reproduction, and the immune system.” In humans a correlation has been seen between some of these compounds and low birth weight and even high cholesterol.
Air inside the office can be as much as 100 times more polluted than the air outside. Considering that many people spend most of their waking lives working inside an office, we believe we have a responsibility to those using our products to keep them free from harmful chemicals.
A Healthy Office is a Productive Office
The health of your employees matters. Of course, we all recognize that employees who are healthy take less time off. Providing employees with a private place to work can help prevent under-the-weather workers from spreading their illnesses around the office. There is more to it than that, though.
Common sources of pollutants in a typical office are Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) from glues and paints, particularly from wood furniture. When you reduce exposure to these pollutants, even otherwise-healthy employees become more productive.
In building Thinktanks, we strive to use the most eco-friendly alternatives we can find. This begins with our solid aluminum walls. While cheaper options like plywood or MDF would have reduced our cost, these materials are notorious for containing toxic chemicals. We chose aluminum for a few reasons—it looks great; it doesn’t require toxic binders like wood composites do; and it’s 100% recycleable.
Then there is the insulation. Fiberglass would have been the cheap, though less-effective choice here. More important than its lower effectiveness is that fiberglass is becoming an increasing concern among indoor air quality experts. Tiny particles of fiberglass insulation can break loose from exposed insulation and spread throughout the office via the building’s HVAC ducting. From there, it ends up in our lungs where it can cause symptoms similar to bronchitis.
We chose a greener option that happens to be a better soundproofing material, too. Recycled denim, sometimes called natural cotton fiber insulation, has a higher R-value than fiberglass, meaning that it’s a better thermal insulator. Even more important for our purpose is its excellent sound absorption properties—about 30% higher than fiberglass. Because it has no VOCs, so there’s no concern with adding to office air pollution. Unlike fiberglass insulation, it doesn’t release tiny particles that can end up in your lungs. And not only does it come from recycled material; it’s recyclable too.
Then there’s lighting. Chances are your office already has plenty. There’s certainly room for an additional lamp inside any of our Thinktanks, but we included LED lights and glass walls in order to take advantage of the light that your office already has. This ensures that you’ll have plenty of light to work without adding to your overall carbon footprint.
Healthy Employees are Happy Employees
Environmentally friendly products are great for your staff’s general health, and that impacts their overall happiness, too. It’s long been understood that happier people tend to be healthier. While most studies seem to indicate that it’s happiness that improves health, the reverse might also be true. When your ability to function normally is disrupted by poor health, happiness drops. By keeping people healthier, we are improving their happiness as well.
This ultimately becomes a cycle, since happier employees are more productive, too. So better health leads to better productivity directly, and it leads to more happiness which also increases productivity. It’s a double whammy of productivity-increasing goodness. Of course, happiness in itself is a good thing even without the increased output—we see that as a bonus.
Clearly, health is a strong reason for choosing eco-friendly alternatives to common building materials. It’s not the only reason, though.
The Illusion of High Cost
Eco-friendly products are often seen as a more costly option, and although this is not entirely unwarranted, choosing to use not-so-green products to save money can be a false economy. Environmentally friendly products can save your company money in a number of ways.Green products should be built to last. We build Thinktanks of the highest quality materials like sustainably-sourced American maple wood. Their modular design ensures that you’ll never “outgrow” them—take them with you to new spaces as your company grows, or simply move them around your existing space to accommodate new staff. This is a product that’s designed to last as long as your business does.
Healthy employees mean fewer sick days. Keeping toxic products out of the workspace helps keep your staff healthy and productive, leading to less lost time from illness. It also means that employees are more likely to be “at their best” than workers in a less “green” office.
Lower energy use. Even if you aren’t directly paying for electricity in your office, the cost is factored into your lease. And if you are paying those bills yourself, reducing that expense translates directly to your bottom line. Each of our privacy booths is designed for energy efficiency, with impact-resistant glass walls and glass doors to take advantage of ambient lighting.
Recycled materials. Of course recycling reduces our carbon footprint. It also costs less, compared to “virgin” materials. The core of our booth is aluminum and the insulation in our office phone booths is made from recycled denim—one of the best sound insulators available, and very green to boot.
Better resale value. When it’s time to replace a single-person phone booth with one of our larger models, you’ll be glad that we used the highest quality environmentally-friendly materials. Building products that last is always the greener choice, and it means our booths don’t need to end up in the landfill. And as consumer demand for green reusable products continues to increase, the resale market for these products grows, too; this means that you’ll be able to get a great price for your old booth when you upgrade.
Our Company Conscience
We aren’t alone in the world, and we recognize that our choice in building materials has an impact far beyond ourselves and our customers. The health of our own employees matters—we want them to have the same happy, healthy, productive lives that we’re trying to bring to every workplace.
We know that our employees would be the first-line of exposure to any harmful chemicals that we could have chosen to use. Chances are that they would be the most affected by those choices.
Our employees have families, too. If the materials we choose to use cause harm to our staff, they harm their families as well.
And it goes beyond just our customers and the people we know. If we had chosen cheaper, more toxic materials, we have no way to know how far the impact could spread. Dangerous chemicals often end up in the waterways and eventually find their way to the oceans, posing a risk not only to fish and marine life, but to any person or animal that consumes those aquatic animals.
Materials like fiberglass aren’t just dangerous to the end user—the manufacturing itself uses gas-fired furnaces that produce toxic emissions. Those workers involved in that manufacturing are also exposed to those dangerous fiberglass particulates at a much higher level than the average consumer.
Manufacturing of wood composites like MDF releases fairly large amounts of VOCs into the atmosphere for all of us to breath. And again, the workers producing those materials are likely exposed to those toxins at higher levels than the rest of us would be.
We recognize that eco-friendly products aren’t always the cheapest option up front. Yet when factoring in unseen costs like health and environmental impact, we know that they are the overall more economical choice. If you’d like to learn more about how our environmentally friendly privacy booths can benefit your workplace, just give us a call at 800-230-8968 or shoot us an email through our contact page. We look forward to meeting you!