ISA Case Study: Simple Steps to Sustainability

Understanding what constitutes sustainable practices can be confusing at best, so the International Sign Association opted to show how one member company, Acorn Sign Graphics, has put environmental efforts at the forefront. A new video case study featuring Acorn is available at

The video is just one way that ISA’s Sustainability Committee is helping educate the sign industry on ways to incorporate sustainable practices into their corporate philosophies, manufacturing processes, products, and lifecycle.

“Sign manufacturers, by their very nature, have much smaller environmental footprints than typical, mass-production factories,” said Sapna Budev, ISA’s director of industry programs. “In general, unless these earth-friendly measures are relatively easy and cheap, most of our members aren’t going to be able to implement them. This is why we embarked on the search for a member company who had figured out how incorporate a lot of little steps to make a big impact.”

Acorn certainly proved that little steps can make a big difference. In the case study, Acorn employees and owner Beth Gillispie share how simple acts such as recycling paper eventually became part of the corporate culture. Those steps led to other actions such as emailing invoices rather than mailing, which brought annual savings of about $1,000. An aggressive recycling program now includes metal, which brings in several thousand dollars per year. When the company moved to a new facility, it was furnished with 90 percent recycled goods.

With corporate actions taking hold, the company began to explore ways to integrate sustainable practices into production, much of which went hand-in-hand with lean manufacturing initiatives. Buying local has saved on shipping costs and nesting programs have lessened waste. As a result of its sustainable practices, Acorn also has landed clients with green building projects, such as LEED facilities.

“Acorn’s willingness to open up their business practices to viewers certainly showcases just how easily a sign manufacturer can incorporate small actions that will add up to big results,” said Lori Anderson, ISA president and CEO. “Increasingly, sign company customers are asking questions about sustainable practices and Acorn has provided a road map to solutions that make sense financially and environmentally.”



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