Following up on the wonderful uses of carpet samples by our creative volunteers, I reached out to Aronson’s Floor Covering, a donor since 1994. We get a donation of samples at least once a month and have for years. Aronson’s is one company who has proved how committed it is to the ideals of MFTA and creative reuse. Aside from donating to MFTA, Carol Swedlow, owner, has taken the environmental cause and incorporated it seamlessly into the company. Many of their products feature natural fibers and other sustainable materials, and the company hosts a series to educate industry partners how to do the same. I asked her a few questions about her the company’s environmental initiative, and she was kind enough to respond.
KS: I see Aronson’s has been donating since 1994. How did you first hear about Materials for the Arts?
CS: In the late 1990’s, although “green” thinking was not yet a topic for discussion in the mainstream, my staff and I were actively learning about the impact of the flooring industry has on the environment. Materials for the Arts was featured as part of a documentary produced by PBS. That program was instrumental in connecting Aronson’s to
MFTA. Also, at the time, we were assessing various options on how best to recycle surplus materials from our installation projects, as well as retired showroom displays. Having flooring materials recycled, repurposed and reused, through the MFTA, fit perfectly with
our emerging green philosophy. Today, I still think it is a very good idea. This is the reason I continue to be a strong MFTA supporter.
KS: What and how often do you donate to MFTA?
CS: What: The materials could range from carpeting and samples made mostly from natural fibers such as wool, linen, bamboo, paper, etc., to cork floor tiles made from cork tress, as well as accessories such as display racks, paddings, etc.
How often: Our company truck is scheduled to drop off materials at MFTA once every month, and additional stops are scheduled when the hampers designated specifically for MFTA are filled.
KS: I hear you host seminars and workshops to be more environmentally-conscious. Do you mind telling me a bit about how that got started and how that works?
CS: Traditionally, the marketing for floor covering has been on what it looks like and how it performs. Environmentally-friendly flooring has always existed – cork, bamboo, wool, for instance. But, I found few design professionals or their clients [who] were discussing the considerable environmental benefits. It is not because they didn’t care; it is just that they were not aware. Awareness. That’s exactly the reason we conceived the “Lunch & Learn” lecture series – to raise the awareness of design professional community to environmentally-friendly alternatives.
In addition, three factors converged which led to the launch of the “Lunch & Learn” lecture series:
1. Professional Standards – As a licensed architect, I recognized that professionals need to complete continuing education courses to maintain our license.
2. Issue Recognition – The Kyoto Accord brought environmental issues front and center coupled with the lack of government interest in actively addressing the environmental concerns, and
3. Aronson’s Market Position – Aronson’s works with many leading architects and interior designers. And, we have a 5,000+ square feet showroom centrally located to the New York design community which was ideal to host events.
“Lunch & Learn” is presented during the Spring and Fall. This Fall, we are hosting a series of seminars on diverse environmental topics: Bio-Diesel, Geo-Thermal Heat Pumps, Energy Conservation and Innovative Landscape Design. Please visit our website for more
details in the coming weeks at www.aronsonsfloors.com/aia.php.
KS: Apart from donating to MFTA, in what ways do you incorporate reuse
into your business?
CS: We incorporate reuse into our everyday work activities, such as reusing rubber bands from our bundled mail, recycling cartons for shipments, [and] procuring [recycled] products when feasible.
We are thankful to all of our donors, but we are especially proud of those donors who share the values and mission of MFTA and exemplify them in their day-to-day operations. Thank you again to Carol for your time.