How's that to start off a Monday. Yesterday was Earth Day. While it is a special day to John and I, because we were engaged on Earth Day, it is a perfect opportunity to talk about acrylic while the thought of Earth love is on everyone's mind.
Admittedly, when we first opened shop we had a couple products that were made from acrylic. Acrylic products is a standard material for laser cutters. They look really nice and are often well received by customers.
When we had a large custom project that was made from acrylic in our first year of business. I was excited about it because things were starting to get going with jobs for us. About a quarter way into the job, it really stank. Cutting acrylic with the laser smelled so bad it grossed us out. We have proper ventilation and everything, acrylic simply stinks. Why is that?
Acrylic plastics manufacturing involves highly toxic substances which require careful storage, handling, and disposal. It also causes toxic fumes and it isn't easily recyclable. Acrylic is a group 7 plastic. Which means it basically ends up in a landfill if thrown away.
After reflecting on the process of our work and what we are about as people, we choose to not take jobs that ask for acrylic components. While they might look really nice for a short time, they are really here forever and not in a good way. We do not want to be contributing to harming the Earth for a quick buck. I should also mention that the cost of acrylic often exceeds the price of wood. By A LOT. When we started backing away from acrylic jobs we often quoted the same jobs with wood as an alternative. The prices were less and our clients were just as mindful as we are about the materials.
We've become very familiar and comfortable with some selected wood types that we often use for our work. We have the skills to create colorful palettes with paints. Wood is a renewable material. When it cuts on the laser, it smells like a campfire. Many of our products have that sweet smell. Many people actually pick up our pieces at shows to smell. It's not weird and we encourage it.
Something to think about and consider what it means long term. We are actively looking into Earth friendly packaging. I am truly a plastic hater and I am doing what I can to avoid it.
Lasers and love - Thea