The Green Side of Business: DODOcase Plans for the Sustainable Road Ahead

Posted by Bekah Wright


This post is in partnership with UPS

This is part two in our Green Side of Business series, which chronicles one company as it strives to do business more sustainably.

DODOcase, the winner of the Green Side of Business program, makes hand crafted eReader and tablet covers and are on a mission to change the way they do business. And if they achieve their goal, San Francisco will become a bit more sustainable as a result. “There is no sustainability leader we aspire to be like,” says DODOcase’s Co-Founder, Craig Dalton. “We’d love to have that reputation associated with us, we just don’t know what it would take to get there.”

DODOcase has already enacted some green methods. Well, some of those methods actually came out of necessity. “We’ve been paperless since we started,” says Dalton. “Initially, this was due to having no office or printer.” Moving forward, Dalton says the company will be looking for other ways to impact day-to-day consumption.

Transportation is also one of DODOcase’s focuses. “We’ve made choices to work with local vendors,” says Dalton. “For most, we can walk product to them on a handcart or ride them up the block on a cargo bike.” Many DODOcase employees are also cycling fans, with 100% of the company participating in Bike to Work Day. “Through our sustainability project, we’re going to explore a better bike rack system in an exclusive area,” Dalton says. “We’ll also look into lockers for people who need clean clothes and storage.”

As for employees, DODOcase has 12 full-time staff and around a dozen contract workers depending on the season. Most are already on the sustainable bandwagon, using their own mugs and water bottles while on the job site. The company’s kitchen also stocks bamboo flatware and plastic plates that can be washed after use.

Based on a recommendation from Nurit Katz, UCLA’s Sustainability Coordinator and an instructor for its Global Sustainability Certificate Program, Dalton has explored San Francisco Green Business for ideas. One has already caught his eye. “We already have recycling bins for office paper, but now we’d like to add a an area for composting, recycling and garbage, complete with instructional placards.” Weekly employee lunches will also be a forum for co-workers to voice sustainable ideas.

A more far-reaching goal DODOcase is considering involves the products themselves. “We now use renewable bamboo trays to hold eReaders and tablets,” says Dalton. “We’re looking into including a recycled plastic tray in the mix. The effort would be an expensive one.” Thanks to the backing of GOOD and UPS, Dalton thinks they can move more quickly to an even green-friendlier product.

As DODOcase undertakes its sustainability mission, they’ll have input from both UPS and sustainability experts. What Dalton hopes will come from DODOcase’s efforts: “We’d like to make lasting changes in DODOcase's modus operandi on a daily basis and impact change in our employees as well. If we set a bar and educate employees on how we need and want things done at work, there should be a trickle down effect at home. In a very microcosm sort of way, there are 24 people or so we can effect. Hopefully, we’ll have a broader effect in the city.”

Below, we’ve asked green business experts for their advice on improving DODOcase’s sustainability strategy. 

P. Simran Sethi,  University of Kansas Associate Professor of Journalism with a focus on sustainability:

It would be interesting for DODOcase to explore the use of alternate, lighter weight materials (many of us are using iPads and Kindles to reduce the number of books we're schlepping) and explore low-impact glues and dyes if not already doing so.

In terms of transportation, it would be great if DODOcase not only encouraged bike use, but subsidized public transportation passes as another means to encourage low-impact commuting.

Amit Jain, Sustainability Consultant at AmitJain310:

DODOcase should consider cradle-to-cradle design. The idea is to either recycle, repurpose or refurbish. One way to do this is by taking back broken DODOcases, or giving discounts to customers who want to exchange old ones for new ones. DODOcase could in turn use the pieces from broken or returned products and retrofit them into a new style. Everything is so retro and custom with their current designs, it should be easy to do a remix of an old style.

They should look at other ways they can utilize recycled materials. Can they incorporate hemp or other materials that are sustainable?

Jeff Hayes, Independent Certified Integrated Reporting Specialist, formerly of Opportunity Green:

If they’d like to be leaders in the sustainability arena, they might want to come at it from greenness for profit. That would be a leadership position. Other people have done it, but only the leaders have come at it from that perspective. With business that tends to resonate well. It’s great to feel good operating sustainably, but if you’re not feeling an upside you’re going to drive yourself out of business.

DODOcase should think about how they’re going to measure their greenness? It can only be measured in something quantifiable, like paper use avoided. There are lots of ratio and key performance indicators. Pick one, or three at the most, and focus on reporting on that for a cycle, maybe a quarter, maybe a year. Ratchet it up from there and set benchmarks along the way.

Check the Green Side of Business series next week for DODOcase’s progress with the experts’ advice.