When it comes to repair and custom work, it’s not yet practical, or really possible, to completely “go green” and perform full-service saxophone repair without sacrificing some dependability and performance. Many synthetic and petroleum-based mechanical lubricants, for example, are not closely equalled by anything non-petroleum based, or biodegradable, and may never be. I do, however, believe in protecting myself, my customers, and the environment to the greatest degree possible. Indeed, one of the reasons I left New Orleans was disappointment over the BP oil spill and its aftermath. My choices in terms of materials and uses reflects this. Wherever possible and practicable I substitute less harsh materials and practices for harsher traditional approaches, and am always looking for ways to further reduce possible impacts to players, the environment and myself.
REPAIR & CUSTOMIZATION
– Minimizing impacts to personal health & the environment –
Every effort is made at Just Saxes to avoid any unseen effects to both my own and customers’ personal health, and to the environment. This is actually a more far reaching concern in instrument repair than might be assumed; many of the “tools of the trade” in terms of chemicals and compounds in daily use come with some not-so-modest warnings on their container labels. Where possible, I eliminate these items from my repertoire. I no longer perform “chemical strips,” for example, using chemicals that are harsh for the environment (I use a stripping method that is completely “vegan,” although it takes a bit more work sometimes than the same job done with chemicals). I avoid lead based solders to the greatest degree possible (very occasionally, a very low temp flow will be needed, which will call for an exception — the solder supply for this, however, was purchased years ago, and that one small spool of low temp flow lead-tin solder will last 20 years, most likely, without a replenishing). Those who love the ocean and its ecology and citizens will be pleased to know that no waste water or chemicals from Just Saxes work ever go into gutters, or storm drains, to be flushed untreated into the ocean. Even when it comes to the detergents and degreasers I use, every effort is made to ensure that all are biodegradable and phosphate-free.
The flipside of a concern for health and “green living” is that I also recognize that the most effective products for use are sometimes…not-so-green. Keeping a balance and cognizance of risk factors in mind, presuming no health risk to be worth chancing, I make very effort to protect both my own health and my customers, as well as the environment, in my choices of materials and processes, without sacrificing performance. You will not be unwittingly inhaling noxious fumes or lead dust when you play an overhaul or custom work by Just Saxesl Not only the heavy work portion of service but clean-up is conducted with the safest and most natural, petroleum-product-free materials available to me. Petroleum based products are used only when a substitute would hinder immediate or long term performance, and none are used in the bore of the saxophone where users may inadvertently inhale them (you will not be unwittingly inhaling WD-40 from the bore, at any time, as a “secret sauce”).
The balance between performance and eco-friendly materials and usages is an ongoing process. As I discover eco-friendly alternatives to traditional methods — which do not alter my work’s results — I add them to my process. The bottom line, though, is that when you hire Just Saxes for repair or custom work, you may rest assured that every effort is made to minimize environmental and health impacts at the shop, and that your own personal health and safety are always taken into consideration.
– Completing the Circle –
Minimizing environmental impacts is the goal in packaging as well, with the same caveat of “function first” as in all other areas of service. When you receive a shipment from Just Saxes, to the greatest extent possible and practicable, all materials used will be either constructed from recycled materials, or will literally be recycled materials (recycled by me after receiving shipments myself with packing materials that can be reused). This does not imply in any way a lower standard of shipping care or precaution. I don’t think anybody has a cleaner shipping record than Just Saxes in terms of safe delivery — I have had only one instrument significantly damaged in years (a shifted bell, on a baritone delivery by UPS, whom I try to avoid using as I have had the best luck with FedEx), and I believe there are very few businesses of any kind that can say that truthfully. Preserving my clean shipping record while minimizing the impact of my business on the environment is always a goal in packaging and delivery.
Emphasizing recycled packaging means a bit less spiffy branding and presentation in packaging, but the most effective recycling is to actually reuse packaging and shipping-related products. Reusing boxes and shipping materials is a high priority at Just Saxes, and is perhaps the area of daily business where environmental impacts are minimized to the greatest extent over “business as usual.” And, it has the added plus of reducing costs to clients, as one-time-use fancy packaging is a cost that would normally be recovered “downstream,” in the final cost to the customer.