Resource Consumption: Home-Based Candle Business Research Paper
For this assignment, I utilized a home based business that I once had made and selling candles. My single story family size home is approximately 2,300 square feet. When preparing for this research paper, I went through my entire home to see what resource consumption that I used for my business. I discovered that my home used 10,000 kilowatts of electricity each year. After discovering this astounding figure, I went through the rest of the home determining how much electricity each appliance utilizes.
Even though I always turn off my lights when they are not essential, (which is approximately 12 hours a day) it still takes up 101 billion kWh of electricity each year. Next, I included the raw materials located in my home to add to my list. Even though raw materials may be more likely to be seen in factories, they can still be found in local homes.
According to Gipes (2004) “ Raw material is something that is acted upon or used by or by human labor or industry for use as a building material to create some product or structure. Often the term is used to denote material that came from nature and is in an unprocessed or minimally processed state”. The raw materials I use for my business include flower pedals, beeswax, glass, twigs and stones (decoration), vanilla plants, to name just a few. I do not use many chemicals, other than oils and aromas. The only chemicals I really use is cleaning products.
Until conducting research for this paper, I was environmentally friendly and did not even know it by using Simple Green to clean my house and my equipment. Simple green is biodegradable and non-toxic, so it's safe to use around humans (Simple Green, 2009). With my home based candle business, I produce multiple types of candles, including pillar, taper or dinner casual, gel, floating, container or filled, specialty, tea, luminaria, and votive candles.
The easiest and most cost-efficient candle to make is the pillar candle, which is solid and self-standing. It came in a multitude of shapes, including square, rectangular, hexagonal, and other novelty shapes and designs. Many times I use one wick, but a few of them have two, three, even four wicks. I originally started with lead wicks, but I learned that cotton wicks were more environmentally friendly. The more difficult candle to make are the gel candles since it takes a strictly measured combination of chemicals to produce it.
My business uses the post-office to ship the candles. I was able to save some gas (and time) by ordering a pick-up of my packages at my house, or buying the postage over the Internet and giving it to the mailman delivers my mail. I most frequently used their one-rate packages for around $8.00. Since I could usually place three, four, even five candles in a single box.
I don't always ship the candles through the mail. Sometimes I drive the candles to local individuals and businesses. I would wait until I had a few candles to deliver them, this makes my route easier and it saves me money. I would always fill my car up with BP gas since they are the most “green." After conducting research on the company, I found out that BP is the only company to recognize that global warming is an issue, and they reduced their carbon emission by 10% (Cravens, 2008).
Since this was a home based business, the profits from the sales purchase were my personal income. I did purchase new equipment to make better, cleaner, and more environmentally friendly candles though. Some of the equipment that I bought included wax melter pouring pots, thermometers, wick holder bars, fragrances, candle molds, melting wax, weights, just to name a few.
For this business, I did not utilize fuel (other than my car), only electricity. The lighting for my company was my home lighting which is mainly comprised of fluorescent light bulbs, lamps, and candles of course! I did notice when I first started my candle business that my electricity bill went up steeply from an average of $250 a month to $350 a month. I could reason that I was at home more, my oven was turned on for an extended amount of time, and that my other candle making equipment was turned on.
My home is always kept at the most economically and environmentally friendly temperature, 72 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer, and 68 degrees Fahrenheit during the winter (David, 2004). It is best not to turn off the air conditioner or heater during the day since it will take a great amount of energy for the whole house to re-heat or re-cool itself.
Additionally, I have found out that it is cheaper to buy a fan, or use a space heater in lieu of turning on the heating or cooling system. When it was summer, and the kitchen was particularly hot with the stove going, it was more cost-efficient to use to or three fans.
To make candles, there are a lot of by-products that need to be disposed of afterwards. However, most of the products that I used were biodegradable such as herbal teas, vanilla extracts, different kinds of butters, and flower pedals.
The most-hazardous ingredients that I worked with to make candles were the different kinds of oils which are needed. Most oils used in candle making are organic, made of palm oil, vegetable oil, cottonseed oil, in addition to other essential oils.
To discard the unused or old oil, I collected them in a gallon milk jug until I had about three or four of them. If was able, I tried never to mix the different kinds of oils since I did not want to make a lab experiment in my garage. I went to my local body shop where I dispose of my used motor oil and filter since they have the needed facilities to dispose of hazardous materials. It is essential that businesses do not place their oil in ditches, creeks, streams, lakes, in the grounds, in storm water drain offs, or in the garbage, since oil can get eventually into the population's drinking water (Newton, 2008).
On average, I was able to make relatively organic, non-toxic candles. Many other individual who makes candles at home, especially paraffin candles, release carcinogens such as toluene and benzene. However, when I first started making candles, I used lead candle wicks which were easy and inexpensive. Even though I never had the need to dispose of any of the wicks, in hindsight, they were dangerous because of the hazardous toxins that the wick releases when lit.
With my home based candle business, there were some things I could have done to be more eco-friendly, which I can still do. First, I can switch out my old 60 watt electricity bulbs with more environmentally friendly energy-efficient light bulbs. Next, I can check my local area to see if there are any renewable electricity provider, to see if there are any wind, solar, or hydro-electric providers.
Also, I can insulate my home for a “greener” winter.
By double-glazing the windows, and using cavity-wall insulation it can reduce my electricity costs. Many green researchers believe that by using draft excluders, or by putting silver foil behind radiators, and covering up keyholes and closing doors, I will be able to use less electricity (Gabriel, 2007).
Additionally, if I were able to, I could install a rainwater tank, sometimes called a water barrel, or a rain butt. A rainwater tank can help with self-sufficiency, and can be used to water gardens, agriculture, flushing toilets, washing machines, and washing cars. I could have used a rainwater tank to clean out my candle making paraphernalia, and some of the candle recipes call for clean water.
Next, a candle maker could air dry rags after using them to clean up a candle mess. Tumble driers use huge amounts of electricity and are not the only way to dry rags and clothes. Furthermore, if I were still making candles, I would use more of nature's aromas such as flower pedals that give off a pleasant odor. I could have gone around my neighborhood more, or find a local area of woods and picked flowers and plants and used them in my candle recipes instead of buy store.
Cravens, G. (2008). Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy (Vintage). New York: Vintage.
David, B. (2004). Nuclear Energy: Principles, Practices, and Prospects. New York: Springer.
Gabriel, M. (2007). Visions for a Sustainable Energy Future. New York: Fairmont Press.
Generating low carbon energy | What we do |
Gipe, P. (2004). Wind Power, Revised Edition: Renewable Energy for Home, Farm, and Business. Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing Company.