Sustainable Potter’s Guide

What is this guide? And why you are the most important part of it.

In recent years, many challenges have arisen as we have tried to reduce the environmental impact of Studioneves. Since then, we’ve learned a lot. It was through this learning process that this guide was born, and we want to translate our relationship with sustainability in a practical fashion. But this is our story. What is yours? What are your ideas? How can you help other potters? How can you help us? How can you transform the world with us?

This is a collaborative guide, always in beta. And what does that mean? That it is your collaboration that feeds the information gathered here. The more people who participate, the better for the planet.

Please feel free to use the space below to help potters around the world. Together we are stronger.

Why should you use the tips from this guide in your studio?

Studioneves is just a ceramics studio, and we know we will never achieve results beneficial to the planet by ourselves. But we believe that the more people who think and act in the same way, the greater the impact we will have in creating a better world.

Analysis

The first step towards improving the processes in your studio is to analyse and understand your current context.

Once this is complete it is necessary to define your objectives and goals to reduce your impact.

At Studioneves, we produce an annual report on our consumption of water, electricity, plastic and packaging, in addition to calculating CO2 emissions and discharges. The goal is to monitor if we are heading in the right direction towards achieving our goals.

You can check our reports and goals here.

Reuse

We noticed that our high consumption of treated water was mainly used for cleaning tools, general cleaning of the studio, and to produce glazes. That was when we realized that rainwater could be captured and used for these purposes.

With this in mind, we installed a rainwater reservoir and routed its tap to the main tank of the studio. Nowadays we use this rainwater for almost everything, thus generating both economic and environmental benefits.

Carbon emissions

Yes, it’s true. The biggest environmental impact of a ceramic workshop is the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from the ovens.

Whether your oven is wood, gas, or electric, much of the energy will ultimately come from fossil fuels that produce greenhouse gases and contribute to global warming.

At Studioneves, we have installed photovoltaic solar panels that supply all our electrical and lighting equipment with 100% renewable energy.

Most importantly, these panels provide energy for a 500-liter electric oven, which can produce ceramics that are practically 100% decarbonized. *

* Studies show that for every 100g of CaCO (Calcium Carbonate) present in a piece, 45g of CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere during firing. But that is of little relevance given the 5.34Kg of CO2 emitted by the amount of LPG gas needed to fire one dish.

Waste

If you have ever visited a large ceramics factory, you may have been surprised by the amount of waste produced.

At Studioneves, our waste volume is quite low, but even so we always try to divert it to the correct destination.

In Portugal, we contacted BIOVIA for the disposal of clay waste. They explained that it is not possible to send waste directly to a cement factory as it is such a small amount of waste. However, we found that these waste materials can be classified as R12 (temporary storage for energy or material recovery). Thus, we can guarantee its destination together with other waste of the same classification.

Promoting human rights

Within the studio, it is mandatory to respect and promote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Harassment, discrimination, coercion, abuse, violence or exploitation are completely prohibited. Any violation of human rights will be met with zero tolerance.

Know your Suppliers

You must also ensure that the companies that source raw materials from do not violate these rights and share the same conscience.

For example, knowing your suppliers is especially important. Cultivating a relationship with your clay manufacturers and raw material suppliers is, in and of itself, a way to gain knowledge and access to the best inputs on the market. Visiting your suppliers’ operations is also crucial to understanding their practices and conduct.

Get to know your suppliers and your employees up close. Character and awareness are fundamental, because only then will it be possible to choose the best material for your product and the best partners for your company. Responsibilities are shared and knowing the origin of your raw materials is essential.

We can safely say that our greatest competitive advantages came from visits to suppliers. Make it a habit.

Respect for labour law

In the studio, it is also mandatory to respect labour rights and reject any form of forced and child labour.

Living wage

There are two ways to think of a “minimum wage”: the legal minimum wage and the living wage.

The so-called living wage guarantees the balance between professional, family, and personal life— and this varies according to the cost of living in each country, amongst other factors.

In some countries the living wage is official, and although in Brazil and Portugal they have not yet been instituted, it is possible to calculate them. * In Portugal, for instance, the minimum wage in 2020 was 665 euros, but the living wage was around 790 euros.

And this should be the starting point. A living wage allows employees to be happier, and therefore, to work more efficiently. Think about it: it’s a win-win situation.

* https: //www.dn.pt/dinheiro/estudo-sobre-rendimento-adequado-revela-limiar-da-pobreza-subestimado-8612647.html

 

Equality

At Studioneves, we our board is composed in an equal and diverse way, with partners Gabi Neves and Alex Hell.

In the team we have more women than men. We embrace diversity, and the result on merit is more women than men in the studio.

Training and security

At Studioneves, all employees have Workplace Safety training. In 2021, two particularly important training courses entered the curriculum of the entire team: fire training, in partnership with firefighters, and personal finance training. In other words, we want to provide knowledge to all our employees, so that they can be more secure in all aspects of their lives. Having knowledge about credit-related matters, for instance, is fundamental to people’s emotional health.

Prevention is the cure

At Studioneves, all workers take an onboarding health exam, in addition to preventive annual health exams. All workers are encouraged to exercise and maintain a good diet. In addition, everyone on our team has private health and dental insurance.

Carta de princípios

A starting point to improve the management of your pottery company is to adopt a Code of Conduct. In Portugal, we recommend that you contact the BCSD (info@bcsdportugal.org) for information on the topic. The size and current commitment of your company does not matter. The main thing is starting.

Read the Charter of Principles, adopt its principles and be a better company for the whole world. You, your community and the planet can only win. For friends from other parts of the world, click here to see our Code of Conduct.

Share

Use social networks to publicize the evolution of your commitments, objectives, and goals. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes or to expose those same mistakes. We realize that people become more involved when they realize that we too have failed.

Invite other potters, take your share of responsibility.

This is a team job, where we can only become stronger if we work together. This is for the good of people, society, and our planet.

This is just a basic guide, which was born out of our learning process over the last few years.

However, as we said, it is not definitive. There are many other possible actions to reduce your impact. We always want to discover new ways and improve with you, fellow potter.

Este é apenas um guia BÁSICO, que nasceu dos nossos aprendizados dos últimos anos.

Mas não é definitivo, pois existem muitas outras ações possíveis de se fazer para reduzir o seu impacto.

Do you have any questions?
Send us a hello: contato@studioneves.com

Have any ideas to exchange?
Write your comments below and help our community.

12 Comments

  • Fernanda Soares says:

    Verifying if the mining company has an environmental license also encourages changes and adaptations to a more sustainable market. Theseare documents that should be easily available to the client, and by maintaining the relationship, the work of both gets better and better.

  • Cristina Brunet says:

    In addition to the environmental license, it is fundamental to guarantee that there is no child labour or labour analogous to slavery used in the mining companies. Also, ensure that the suppliers’ workers and the atelieritself use PPE appropriate to the activity. As to enamels, ban the use of metals harmful to health and the environment. If plaster moulds are used,they must be disposed of responsibly after the end of their lifecycle (and leftovers too). Organic and/or recyclable packaging (e.g egg cartons) are more suitable than more precious materials.

  • Lucia Lombardi says:

    First of all, congratulations and thanks for the initiative in creating and sharing this space.Thinking about small workshops.Disposal and reuse:Even a small studio without many resources can take actions.Have a bucket (or reservoir) with a lid for clay residue from leftovers from the working process.Wash brushes and tools in a bucket and put this water in the place of clay and glaze waste.

    The clay will be one-off, not suitable for large production, but may (after being tested with a sample in the kiln) serve to make a sculpture, be usedfor classes, or small runs of pieces.If you keep the glaze in a separate bucket, you can form a new glaze. Testto check the colour, change if necessary and again make something unique or use for teaching purposes.Simple systems of capturing the residues from the tank underneath, with buckets for collecting the clay, are also important.Well covered buckets or tanks to avoid breeding mosquitoes!

    Labour rights – training and safety.Knowledge of the ceramic process and possible toxicities and risks of silica exposure. A conscientious employee will know the importance of using adequate PPE. And we ceramists must use and provide this personalprotective equipment.Do not allow someone to sand a ceramic tile or spray glaze without the proper protection (proper masks) and in an environment with proper equipment and ventilation.

  • Lucia Eid says:

    I would like to suggest 1 action.We have great difficulty in finding minimally specialized labour.I have trained many ceramists over 25 years in the profession, including young people who live in regions deprived of any opportunity that have become great employees—in other words, let’s give the opportunity of knowledge to young people who, with a little help, can build a profession as valued and respected as we see today in our market.Thank youLucia Eid. Paulistana Pottery

  • Sandra Tacão says:

    Congratulations and thank you for this space to share! Your site already has a lot of information and clearly raises awareness of environmental issues. I will not add much more…Some notes:- Encourage producers/spaces that sell glazing to produce/sell products that have a lower environmental impact;- Disseminate/share, in this space, the brands offering ceramic products with the lowest environmental impact;- Organize occasional ceramics workshops for schools/adults in order to teach good environmental practices;- Inform/disseminate best labour practices related to worker health;- Use more ecological means of transport;- Recycle packaging;- Reuse glass.Sandra Tacão

  • César Augusto Barbosa says:

    Congratulations on the initiative! May we make it a guide for potters.An important point:
    Here in Brazil, we don’t have a space or a company that recycles leftover clay from potters.I know that many ceramists recycle, but I know that it is hard work, and many workshops end up accumulating a lot of material and never reuse it.They even choose to discard these clays.Companies that sell clay should take action or be ready to take back theseleftovers because their work structures, machines, and manpower, superior to those of the workshops and could recycle these clays. They could buy these leftovers from the potters or exchange them for already processed material.It also opens up a new market with great potential and generates jobs.Thanks.

  • Lika Täkahashi says:

    I congratulate you on the initiative.I believe it will be very useful. Here we already make use of some practices, but there is still a lot to implement.

    The guide gives a light to move forward.But the most important thing is to be aware from the beginning of the impacts caused to the environment and how to reduce or nullify the damage.And as it was said, one swallow does not make a summer.Further more, create a basic manual of best practice for those who are starting out.

    As Sandra Tacão and Lucia Lombardi put it very well.Exchange of ideas and strengthening of management.Seasonal courses combining ceramic classes with practical ecological awareness.
    Lika Täkahashi

  • Anna Cris Fialho - Fatto di Argilla says:

    Congratulations on the initiative and thank you for the opportunity to participate in this moment of Studioneves.Some ideas to contribute:1- I think it is very important to ensure that your suppliers follow the samerigid principles with which the studio is building its image.
    Therefore, in addition to visiting the premises, it is important to demand from these suppliers the documents that ensure that they act in a reputable manner, comply with labour rights and respect environmental standards.2- If possible, collect reusable materials to donate to non-profit organizations that train new professionals in the area.
    Also, hire disadvantaged apprentices who would have difficulties in building a profession and, besides the remuneration due for the function, provide comprehensive training in some area of ceramics, whether in modelling, glazes, clays, etc.
    This certainly, in the long run, will help bring even morevalue to the profession of ceramics and the social development of many families.3- Regarding labour rights, besides a decent salary, it is equally relevant for the physical, family, and mental health to ensure that employees comply with the legal working hours, not exceeding the limits foreseen.
    In Brazil, many companies end up exceeding this limit. This should also be a focus for the validation of suppliers.4- I suggest that the Code of Conduct include a list of the main materials and processes used in the workshop that can cause damage to health andthe respective PPE required.

  • Carol Lamaita says:

    Congratulations on the initiative dears!My suggestion is to educate and inform everyone involved in the process, from collaborators to clients, regarding the materials we use. Although abundant, it is a raw material that cannot be renewed in the short term and the conscious choice of this material is of extreme importance. We use raw materials that come from mining processes, dyes that contain encapsulated toxic materials, which are safe for the end user, but harmful to those involved in the extraction and preparation of this material. It’s notabout being purist, but to guarantee information about the origin of these materials and whenever possible avoid them, and of course, as already mentioned, provide recycling of all materials we use, because yes, fortunately everything we use in the studio can be recycled!  Long life to initiatives like these!

  • Alice Felzenszwalb says:

    Gabi and Alex, congratulations on the initiative of raising the issue and sharing knowledge. This is how we move forward, evolving our practice and our relationship with it. Investing in the training of professionals has been one of the priorities of the studio over the years. May we strengthen relationships, exchange ideas and leave a legacy for the next generations of ceramacists.

  • Luiza says:

    First of all, thank you for the invitation to participate and be part of such an important movement. Awakening all those who still do not have this awareness and joining forces with all those who are already on this path, we hope that the ideas from those who make ceramics and those who produce our raw material reach the final consumer. Thanks Alex and Gabi.Only success! HugsAttn: Luiza Avila

  • Marilia Figueiredo says:

    Studioneves has only good ideas!!! I think responsible disposal is of great value, and also the use renewable resources like the ☀ Sun for electricity. Or the wind, or the waves of the sea… all the resources that nature gives us! Helping to train professionals to make pottery is also very necessary. We need the beauty and practicality of the beautiful pieces of Studioneves!!!!

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