Each month GreenWorld365 will spotlight people, businesses, or organizations that are making strides towards greening our world. This month we interview Mark Hawkins of InkPeace.
Founded in 2008 by Mark Hawkins and Carol Pedersen, InkPeace is an eco-friendly company, promoting the re-use of ink cartridges. InkPeace sells ink and toner cartridges for printers, fax machines and copiers. InkPeace is active in their community and are participating in the future of our city.
Tell us your story! How did you get interested in living a green lifestyle?
The First Earth Day took place in 1970 when I was in high school. That day made a big impression on me and I have been environmentally conscious ever since.
The terms “green,” “eco-friendly,” and “sustainable” get bandied around quite a bit nowadays. How do you personally define what is “green.”
Green is a state of mind. I don’t bleed green. I don’t have solar panels on my roof and I don’t use recycled toilet paper all the time. However, I am very conscious about putting items that can be recycled in recycling bins. I am a believer that we can make a difference in the climate. Not everyone believes this. So, to me, green is a state of mind. InkPeace is not 100% pure when it comes to green. Green to us means encouraging others to use recycled cartridges. In fact, we don’t sell original brand (HP, Canon etc.) cartridges unless the cartridge cannot be remanufactured. I believe we are the only company to limit product options to our clients in this fashion. So, although we don’t use soy ink, we are contributing in a big way.
What type of products/innovations/movements excite you about the green living industry right now?
Watch the Green Channel on TV some time. It is mind blowing. Our current administration in the White House spells good news for all of us that have been stressing the need for alternative energy. My #1 interest right now lies in the creation of a smart grid. That will be interesting to see how this aspect pans out. You can have all the wind turbines in the world, but if you can’t get the energy to the end-user, it is like throwing perfectly good food out. Bringing the electric car down to a price point where people can actually afford it will also be interesting to watch.
After learning what you know about the potential perils our world could face without change, how do you stay optimistic about the future?
I don’t necessarily believe that the world is coming to an end. I mean, turn on the news at any given time and the media would have you believe the world is going to Hell in a hand basket. At the end of the day, we can still eat, sleep and breathe. Look at LA. In the 70’s there was always this black cloud hanging over the city, Today, while we battle so many other issues, the sky isn’t all that bad. But then, I am from Colorado, and I prefer the blue skies there, but hey it is all relative. Go to Beijing or Mumbai and take a look at their skies. Oh my God! They too will learn how to deal with pollution.
Who inspires you in your green journey? Why?
My first inspiration is two business partners of mine in the 90’s: eBay founder, Pierre Omidyar and his first president, Jeff Skoll. Both guys are very into social entrepreneurialism. Of course it helps when you are a billionaire, but both guys are heavy into social concerns that benefit people around the world. I am very proud of them and they have continued to be my mentors. A current inspiration is our current President, Barrack Obama. Except for the fact that he actually believes there is such thing as “clean coal”, the world is going to change for the good because of his beliefs. Al Gore may be a little nutty, but he has done great things in raising global warming consciousness.
Everyone has a vice. When it comes to living your green ideal, where do you struggle?
I struggle with not being greener. As I said earlier, green is a state of mind. I struggle with hypocrisy every day. If I have forgotten my cloth bags when I go grocery shopping, I feel guilty. I drive a Smart car. It runs on gas. I feel guilty.
With so many folks worried about the economy in America, how do you balance your green goals with economic realities?
Aha! This is a problem, isn’t it? I can buy 3 Smart cars instead of 1 Prius. When it comes to InkPeace, we have a rare offering where our products are priced 30% to 70% lower than name brand new cartridges. But that can’t be said for most green products and it doesn’t have to be that way. A lot of manufacturers are laughing all the way to the bank.
What is your current green project all about?
We have the trifecta: sustainable products, lower prices, and fundraising for non-profit organizations including schools. Remember glass pop bottles? In 1972, a friend of mine and I went to stores and private homes and collected pop bottles. 2 cents for a small bottle and 10 cents for the large ones. We actually paid for a trip to Hawaii doing that. I kid you not. Not unlike pop bottles, ink cartridges are consumables so they can be returned and have a market value. InkPeace doesn’t just sell eco-friendly ink and toner. We also offer two fund raising programs, which include cartridge collection. Our newest program is called Classroom Relief Project. With all the budget cuts in the schools, InkPeace is splitting profits in half with designated schools when parents purchase ink through us. We keep prices 10% below Staples yet give an average of $40 to the schools when a toner cartridge is purchased. Not bad, huh?
What do you hope to accomplish? Who do you hope to reach with this work?
My vision is to have all the 100+ schools in the Long Beach Unified School District participating in an ink and toner-recycling program. Through it all, this will encourage the sales of remanufactured ink and toner within the schools thus helping the environment while cutting costs. We are just one little piece of the puzzle, but this is our piece and we have blinders on while we chip away one school at a time.
What sort of feedback have you received so far?
People love the concept and our products are sound. They like local independent companies and they want to see you succeed. In regards to offering eco-friendly products at a lower price they are used to, it is a no-brainer.
If you could share one thing with folks that are wondering how they can make a change for a more sustainable future, what would it be?
If you are reading this, you already have a green state of mind, so get going! Start with something and make it a habit. Then add another something and make it a habit. And then another…