Sustainable Potter’s Guide
- Human rights
- Labour rights
- Occupational safety and health
- Ethical and legal conduct
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Code of Conduct
Implement a Code of Conduct in your studio. At first it may seem like just another piece of bureaucracy, but it is more than that: it is a management tool that makes the rules of the game clear to both you and your employees.
Sending it to your customers and suppliers is also great way to demonstrate your attitude and seriousness on the topic.
Adopt transparency. We often want to brush over problems and the limitations of a project in order to guarantee the sale. But then we must deal with the problems arising from that behaviour. Over time, we realized that being transparent, direct, and sincere — even if it shows vulnerability to the customer — is always the best option.
Respect intellectual property
Respect and enforce intellectual property rights.
Under no circumstances should you copy the work of another potter. Be emphatic with the customer who asks you to do so.
This is basically “don’t do to others what you don’t want done to you”. You get rid of that burden on your conscience and your client will respect you even more. We can guarantee that.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.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.
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.