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Thrifty Business of the Week

We live in an era where commodity prices like food and energy--the things we need to survive--are rising. Yet, innovations in technology boost efficiency and push prices of other goods to all-time lows. This creates great opportunities for the THRIFTY among us. Businesses that have identified these distortions and, therefore, changed the way that they operate so that they may pass the savings on to their customers, are whom this weekly article will present. We aim to show you the ways of the best merchants on the Internet, so that you too may benefit from the great savings and overall thrift that they deliver to their valued customers. We hope you enjoy Thrift Culture Now’s Thrifty Business of the Week.



Sarah’s Fleeces: This Thrifty Business Makes Frugal Living Friendly Clothing for the Whole Family

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It’s amazing to think that something so simple as a fleece sweater or pair of socks can do so much good in so many ways.

When Sarah made those first thermal fleece tops for her and her family so that they could keep the furnace low in the winter and save some money, she had no idea that she would soon be an entrepreneur whose thrifty products not only benefit the people who buy them, but that she could also do something to help her financially troubled community and set a good environmental example, all at the same time.

Sarah says it was when her twin boys wore their fleece thermal tops to school and she was approached by other parents who asked her to make the same warm shirts for their kids, that she realized the opportunity to start a business.

Sarah started Sarah’s Fleeces in the winter of 2008, out of her home in England. Since then, her business has grown to employ 14 local people and she and her sewing team now hand-produce much more than just fleece tops; thermal pyjamas, sweaters and hats, blankets and pants, even welly socks to keep feet warm inside of rubber boots, as we call them in North America.

So why is Sarah’s Fleeces a great example of a Thrifty Business and how will her products help you to achieve some of your frugal living goals?

First off, when clothing is handmade, like Sarah’s, there’s a high level of quality control that goes into making sure each and every piece is durable--you just can’t get that with mass-produced clothing. Sarah says the fleece they use is top quality (read long lasting) and comes in a great selection of colours too.

Plus, and any frugal living enthusiast will appreciate this, if you’re dressed in one of Sarah’s thermal sweaters or pairs of pyjamas, you will definitely find it easier to turn the furnace down a few degrees!

“Even though one needs to spend money to get our thermal products, having bought them you can then save significant amounts of money on your fuel bill as you don’t need to have the thermostat set as high,” Sarah explains. “Just turning it from 18 to 16 degrees saves 20 per cent on your bill!”

When it comes to her own business operations, Sarah also does everything she can to save money and to keep her expenses low. She says she and the rest of her team make the most of their material and use all of the tiny bits and scraps of fleece to stuff pillows, they buy in bulk to save on gas, they use up-cycled products from local companies, and they themselves dress in the warm fleece clothing to keep heating costs low in the cooler weather.

Sarah’s business operations aren’t just frugal living friendly, however. This entrepreneur is also very committed to the environment, using fleece that is made partially from recycled water bottles, limiting waste and keeping her use of utilities and resources to a minimum when making her goods.

Giving back to and supporting her local community is also one of Sarah’s top priorities. As the business has grown, Sarah has added local mothers to her sewing team so that she can help to revive the local economy in Hastings, which has certainly experienced its share of tough times with high unemployment rates and poverty.

“I live near two council estates, I see people every day that have no jobs, very little money and often no hope, there are many examples of poor parenting, bad diets, abuse, broken relationships and hurting families,” Sarah says. “This motivates me in a way I don’t think I can put into words easily. I see awful situations around the world on tv and as much as I long to do something about them I realized that here, right on my doorstep, is a situation that I can do something about. I know it’s only relatively small at the moment but it’s making a real difference to the people involved and that’s a great feeling. It has the potential to make a really major impact.”

Sarah is right. Just like anything in life, those small actions can really add up. Whether it’s the little money saving tips that you use to shave a few dollars off of your utilities here and there, or you run a business like Sarah and you try to source your materials locally, to employ people in your community and to keep your operating costs as low as possible. All of these little efforts can mean something significant in the long run.

Sarah’s unique business model, with its local focus and all of the little things she does to save money or to help out others is far from the likes of the big-time clothing manufacturers. Businesses like Sarah’s Fleeces may be small in size, but their influence and ability to make change are anything but small.   

“History shows us that big changes often start with a few determined people and that following the masses isn’t always the best way,” Sarah says.

Big change, one fleece thermal top at a time.

 



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ecoPrint: Save Ink, Save Paper & Save Money

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Read this interview with ecoPrint's Jack Momose and discover the easy-to-use technology that will allow you to save ink, save paper, and save money. ecoPrint is a thrifty solution for anyone who does home or office printing.


How can a large office afford its printing costs? I ask this because every month I print over 200 pages worth of online newsletters and this costs me about $189 dollars a year, not to mention 1 tree, 365,841 kilojoules of energy, 24 kilograms of CO2, 659 liters of water, and 9 kilograms of solid waste. You’re probably thinking, “how does this guy know all of these specifics details?” If you want to learn how much you can reduce your printing costs and your printer’s ecological footprint, keep reading. I caught up with Jack Momose, the man behind ecoPrint, to learn how to reduce my printing cost:

Travis: “Cogen Media is a dynamic, international software developer and innovator that produces a number of products. You’ve developed two very thrifty products called EcoPrint2 and EcoPrint2 Pro, and I believe they’ve been available for about a year now. Please tell me what inspired you to create these two products that are not only thrifty because they reduce printing costs, but they’re also environmentally friendly.”

Jack: “I’ve always noticed waste around the office printer, in schools, corporate, home office, anywhere you have a printer, you have stray paper with a couple of unread lines of fine print, a recycling box full to the brim, and of course astronomically expensive ink flowing down the drain. So I wanted to come up with a product that would help people and businesses to better control this cost and, even more importantly, help improve the environmental impact of printing.”

Travis: “Please tell me a bit about how the technology works and why it’s so successful at saving paper and ink and, therefore, reducing printing costs.”

Jack: “Okay. Let me make one thing very clear first. Often, people believe that if they select the ‘fast’ or ‘draft’ setting on their printer’s software, they will save ink. This is totally false. Why would a printer manufacturer, who sells ink, want you to save ink? They don’t. So, ecoPrint allows you to select exactly what percentage of ink savings you want. When you install and use ecoPrint, you can save up to 75 per cent more ink, every time you print. This is significant savings over months and years, especially in a large office where printing costs can run hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. The software actually includes a saving calculator so you can see exactly how much money you are saving by taking control of your printing. This covers the ink side of things, but with regards to saving paper, the user is able to modify the page in a number of ways so that they can save: deleting pages, blank pages, manual margin setting, numerous page layout options that will allow you to print two, four, eight, or even 16 pages on one page. So, say you have a 40 page contract to read and you’re going to be traveling, say you want to read it on the plane. Instead of printing 40 pages, you can print 20 or even 10.”

Travis: “It’s great. When I tried it for the first time, I printed with 75 per cent saving because I wasn’t sure how clear it would be. It’s amazing that the quality is so good, but you save so much. The resolution is the same, but the colour is slightly lighter and perfectly clear.”

Jack: “Yeah, we’re very pleased with the results and our customers are too. We’ve helped school boards, corporate offices and individuals to curb this cost and help do their part for raining in unnecessary waste and environmental impact.”

Travis: “Approximately how much waste is produced by printers, and how can ecoPrint product users determine their own printer’s ecological footprint? I know that numerous appliances, and certainly cars, carry large environmental costs, but how about printers? In terms of the environment, how important is it to curb reckless printer usage?”

Jack: “It’s very important and people would be very surprised to know just how much waste their home computer does produce, let alone their business office. If you print an average of five pages a day, you’re producing 21 pounds of solid waste, 174 gallons of waste water, and 52 pounds of CO2 equivalent. You’re also burning through about half a tree a year. To put into perspective, if paper printing in the U.S. was cut by 10 per cent, 1.6 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions would also be cut. That’s significant. Do printers pollute like cars? No. But, it’s quite easy to curb this large environmental cost by making a few changes, and ecoPrint makes it easy. I believe it’s important for our culture to take on reducing all sorts of waste, and being a software developer, this made the most sense to me, as a way I could contribute. Create a thrifty product that not only saves people money, but also the planet.”

Travis: “I guess this is as good a time as any to say that this is precisely the sort of product we endorse. We’re not looking to move back into caves and we enjoy technology and the quality of life it has helped create. However, we feel that mankind has what it takes to continue to advance and do it in a cleaner, smarter way. I don’t want to read hundreds of pages from my computer screen every month, but I cry a little bit every time I hand over $50 for a new ink cartridge. I have now changed all that by installing ecoPrint, and beyond that, my filing cabinet should become more spacious from all the paper I’m going to save!

Jack: (laughs) “That’s right!”

Travis: “I know these products are suitable for both home and office printing. Can you tell me about the system requirements and are there different versions for different types of users (i.e. those using ecoPrint at home versus those using it at an office)?”

Jack: “It’s all on the website in a very easy to use Support Centre. The products are easy to install and they work on all Windows 2000 professional, Windows XP edition, Windows XP Professional, Windows Vista (32 bit) and now Windows 7. It’s very easy to use and, as I said, our website has great support.”

Travis: “At Thrift Culture Now, we focus on teaching people to treat their household like a business, and to look closely at all costs, how they ebb and flow, and to find ways to protect themselves against rising costs in food, utilities, and even taxes. Your products, EcoPrint2 and EcoPrint2 Pro, are two excellent ways that people can protect themselves against the high costs of printing. What thrifty measures have you applied as a business owner so that your company may continue to grow and develop great new products for your customers in the future?”

Jack: “Actually, it’s good you ask this, because I happen to be using another of our products, eBoostr Pro, and it’s allowing us to save big time on computers. Well, let me be clear and provide an example: It’s a big problem, electronic waste and old computers are a HUGE culprit, maybe the greatest contributor since they become ‘slow,’ or the technology becomes obsolete and people just buy new ones. The fact is, the number one cause of slow computers is not the CPU or the RAM, it’s the amount of work your hard drive needs to do. All of the thousands of files that have to be accessed by the hard drive when you start and run an application like email or a website, and your hard drive needs to find them. The hard drive is slower than the RAM or CPU so the computer is always waiting on the hard drive. We solved this problem.”

Travis:  “It’s amazing that computers have become so disposable. How’d you solve the problem?”

Jack: “We came up with a solution that allows people to keep using those older, ‘slower’ computers. This is awesome, and we are really happy with it. All the user needs to do is download a free trial of eBoostr and get two or three data sticks, those usb thumb drives that have become so inexpensive. Our software, eBoostr, uses the existing RAM and these usb drives to reduce the amount of work the hard drive must do. To put it into perspective, we have a little net book, here in the office, and it’s running Windows XP. We put eBoostr on it and we’re using two usb drives and it’s running as fast as or faster than the new computers I have that are running Windows 7!”

Travis: “Really? I have an old HP that I really like, but it’s become super slow. It’s operating with XP also. I’m going to try it out. I’d be very pleased if I could keep using it and not have to buy a new laptop and change everything over, download all the software again and so on and so forth.”

Jack: “Exactly. It’s free, so just download it, get a couple of those usb drives, and we’re back in business using that old HP. It will run as well as it ever did.”

Travis: “Alright Jack, well you’ve just put a big smile on my face! Thanks for talking with me today and thanks for creating these money-saving products. Technology moves fast and household costs fluctuate all the time. When entrepreneurs create and share products, which help people protect themselves from high prices, like you have, people and the world really benefit. Thanks!

It’s been a pleasure discussing your business and products with you, Jack. I know our readers have much to gain from hearing about how they can save on printing costs and reduce their printers’ ecological footprint by using EcoPrint2 and EcoPrint2 Pro.”

If you would like to purchase ecoPrint, or want to learn more about how you can save paper, save ink, and save money with this software, click here.

 



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What’s so Thrifty about These Businesses?

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In the near future, we will be featuring a different Thrifty Business each week. The purpose of this weekly article is to outline the ways in which the chosen businesses are particularly thrifty. In most cases, the businesses will have been chosen for one or both of the following reasons: the business sells goods or services that will help to lower your monthly bills, or they are the lowest cost supplier of a good or service and we want to show you what thrifty measures they have taken to reduce their own costs, so that they can pass the savings on to their customers.

 

The Businesses range from high-tech internet operators to chicken coop and rain barrel manufacturers. They do, however, have one thing in common: they will save you money. So, keep your eyes peeled for our Thrifty Business of the Week and start saving more money!

 



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