Friday, July 11, 2008

Tree hugging 

One thing that happened during my hiatus is that I was appointed to guide Yoyodyne into the wonderful world of FSC certification. Now if you're like me, when you first read that, you asked yourself, "What the heck is FSC?" You could, like me, start to do a Google search, but I'll save you the trouble and tell you that "FSC" stands for the Forest Stewardship Council. (I mention this not because I'm a helpful guy, but rather to prevent anyone from thinking that I'm working on First Satanic Church certification.) Of course, it took me quite awhile to figure that out. When I searched for "FSC certified Seattle" I got a bunch of hits about lumber and forests. I figured I must have misheard what my boss said and so searched for "FSE certified Seattle". That just got me info on field service engineers and fire safety equipment. Fortunately, this all happened towards the end of the workday, so I could leave work and forget about it. The next day I was able to dig once more and this time was able to find a webpage from a local printing company that was bragging about its own certification and thereby unravel the mystery.

The whole FSC certification thing is a movement to label well managed forests and their products, so that environmentally conscious consumers can vote with their dollars. To put their green behind the green, so to speak. Some of the sites I visited speak of it all in glowing terms of social responsibility and all that. Unfortunately, the term "boondoggle" also kept cropping up in my mind as I was reading. If your company is FSC certified, that means that you've paid a few grand to have the official agencies check out your workflows and come by occasionally to do an audit. You certainly don't need certification to produce printed products with paper from well managed forests. But in that case, all your customer has is your word that their print jobs are green. An FSC certified company, on the other hand, can affix an FSC label on their products, so that their customers can take FSC's word that the printing is good to the environment. (Well, the paper part, anyway.)

Ah, well, such is life in our modern age. Hopefully we can jump through the appropriate hoops and our customers will send their socially responsible dollars our way.

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