Sustainable Perspective

22 Apr 2010 Happy Earth Day!

To all of our vendor friends who help us design and deliver the green packaging products our customers want and need. To all of our shipping and logistics friends who help us get the products to our customers on time, at a reasonable cost and with...

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13 Apr 2010 Smart Green Customers Choose Globe Guard Products

A Chicago area clothing retailer had a rather catchy slogan I used to appreciate – “An educated consumer is our best customer”. I believe I related to it as a lifelong student as well as teacher within the packaging industry. I’ve never stopped learning and I truly respect people who also share the same passion, to make good decisions based on study and research, rather than supposition or popular opinion. We’re All in It Together If you are a regular ISP reader you know how much I enjoy meeting and interviewing people who are making a difference in this world. I also truly like being on the opposite side of the interview and freely sharing green facts and opinions. Recently a very smart lady named Mary Kearns, owner of Herban Lifestyle interviewed me for her blog. Mary is a fellow Green America member as well as a fellow 1% for the Planet contributor. She also happens to be a customer but that is never an interview requirement. Mary asked great questions and it turns out, is an excellent writer as well. You can read the interview here - How to Green Your Packing and Shipping.
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18 Mar 2010 What Is the Greatest Myth in Sustainable Packaging?

[caption id="attachment_1288" align="alignnone" width="432" caption="Contrary to Popular Opinion, Green Packaging Doesn't Have to Cost More"][/caption] Last Sunday I had the opportunity to make a presentation and attend the International Housewares Show. It is a great event held annually at Chicago’s lake front McCormick Place and one I don’t miss because of the new products that are usually launched at this industry showcase. This was my third consecutive year at this show and in terms of packaging sustainability I would have to admit that the Housewares industry has been a little slow to jump on the green bandwagon. I even wrote an article about it for Sustainable Is Good in 2008 that commented on the very mixed reaction the Housewares industry had to sustainability. I am very pleased to report that two years later they “get it”. I was thrilled to see countless booths showing eco friendly and green products and for the most part, much of the packaging was “eco-consistent” with the products they are making and marketing. I was truly pleased to see how much progress was made in a short two year period. Back to the greatest myth However, there is one area where many of the people still lag behind and that is in the realization that green packaging does not necessarily have to cost more. In numerous conversations I had with people who appeared to have a sincere interest in making their packaging more eco friendly, they commented on the “high cost of green packaging”. In fact many of the inaccurate perceptions and outdated perceptions I have dealt with in the past are alive and kicking in this segment of the market. They include -
  • You can’t find green packaging products
  • The minimums are too high
  • The quality isn’t there yet
  • And of course, the greatest myth of all – green packaging costs too much
Forward to the sustainable packaging truth We have spent the last three years of our lives exposing and destroying these myths by making eco friendly packaging products available and affordable. The minimums are truly minimal and we guarantee our quality to be second to none.
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23 Feb 2010 Happy Birthday YouTube!

In case you are not aware, You Tube will soon be celebrating the 5th anniversary of its launch in April of 2005. Here are a few interesting YouTube facts you may not know. They now stream a full BILLION videos each and every day. According to some industry...

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04 Feb 2010 Eco Power – The Selling of Green

[caption id="attachment_1180" align="alignnone" width="425" caption="How Eco Friendly Are These Rayon - Bamboo Socks, Really?"]eco friendly rayon socks display at sams club[/caption] When you think of the term “eco power” what do you think of? Perhaps wind mills or some type of naturally produced energy. Or maybe an all natural, organic energy drink to be consumed while working out? What you almost certainly don’t think about is socks.

Eye Catching Eco Display

A few weeks ago I noticed this display while shopping at Sam’s Club. Products being promoted in a green manner always capture my attention but I guess that is the purpose of using green catch phrases like “eco power”. It leads consumers to believe that there is something uniquely green about the product being offered. I took a closer look and realized the product on display was cotton socks so of course I had to determine how Burlington was able to make any green claims about their product. I discovered the socks were made of “rayon made from bamboo” which supposedly gave them some terrific properties to combat moisture and odor. I also noticed that the rayon made from bamboo was a mere 2% of the overall composition and the primary material being used is cotton, the non-organic variety. The labeling and display proudly proclaimed the socks were made domestically but no real indication where the cotton came from, how it was grown and how the people who harvested it were treated. Yet, that tiny bit of “natural” composition made these socks a green product? Is Rayon Even Natural? According to everything I have read, rayon is neither a natural or synthetic product. It is a “semi synthetic fiber”. Any number of different naturally growing plants and trees including bamboo can produce the cellulose from which you can make rayon but in my mind, that does not necessarily make the end result bamboo, or even make it green. I had no idea that last August the FTC came to the same conclusion when they released this bulletin. Why Is This Product Still on the Shelf? I took this photo on Tuesday when I re-visited Sam’s Club to pick up a few items. Right in the middle of one of their main aisles was the greenest retailer in America, Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club, selling a product that at best is questionably green and at worst, possibly intentionally misleading.
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31 Dec 2009 2009, The Joy of Creating Green Moments

My wife, Lenora, and I are fast approaching our third anniversary as entrepreneurs. During the Christmas break we reflected back on how far we have come, not only measured in sales numbers but just as importantly, in terms of friends. Sure there are headaches and disappointments in owning and operating your own business, but we have also enjoyed the privilege and extreme pleasure of working with some pretty incredible people. We agreed our favorite part of the experience is being able to help create and share some unforgettable Green Moments.

What Are Green Moments?

Green Moments: When a committed green minded individual realizes they can have what they want and that is usually a packaging solution that is as green as the products they are promoting. We call it eco-consistency but our customers usually call it, “problem solved”. Here are some great examples.
  • The lady in Maryland who realized she could have her boxes printed with her very attractive logo and it would NOT cost her an arm and a leg to do so.
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15 Dec 2009 Plastic Bag Recycling – Another Step Forward in Sustainability

[caption id="attachment_1070" align="alignnone" width="275" caption="Learn Where to Recycle Your Plastic Bags"]Learn Where to Recycle Your Plastic Bags[/caption] We all like to talk about products that are recyclable but we often forget that where and how to recycle a specific item varies greatly from one geographic area to another. It isn’t just about city versus rural or California versus the rest of the country, it often differs greatly from one neighboring community or county to the next. A friend who lives in Minneapolis recently informed me that St. Paul, the other “Twin City,” has a greatly different recycling program compared to residents of Minneapolis. This confuses the heck out of the consumers who usually want to do the right thing but are often not sure what the right thing is.

Recyclable Plastics - The Source of Much Confusion

First let me say I am not a pro or anti plastic bag person. I simply try to deal with the reality that until they are completely outlawed, people are going to use plastic bags. I know many people hate them, ironically many of the same people who utilize a woven polypropylene (plastic) reusable bag when shopping. Much like plastic water bottles, the biggest problem I have with plastic bags is what people do or don’t do with them after they are done with them. Obviously, plastic bags should be recycled, but where?

A Terrific Sustainable Resource!

I recently found a great web site, PlasticBagRecycling.org, that makes it easy to find a place willing to take in clean, used plastic bags. I have no idea who is behind it, it may be the plastics industry or even large retailers who would prefer to continue using plastic bags but I really don’t care who owns or operates this site. What I do know is that it makes it easy for anyone who wants to recycle plastic bags to do so and I think that is great.
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25 Nov 2009 An Attitude of Gratitude

Gratitude In our household and business we really try to maintain a grateful spirit but like most people, we are no where near perfect and always fail to maintain that thankful mindset for a whole week, let alone an entire year. The photo included in this post is of a print that is displayed in our office conference room and serves to remind us of our need to be thankful. However, since we don’t use that room on a daily basis, it is relatively easy to take our many blessings for granted. Thanksgiving Day For most people Thanksgiving is more than over eating, over drinking, football games and planning the crack of dawn assault at the local mall for the annual shopping ritual we’ve come to know as Black Friday. That is the beauty about Thanksgiving is that it creates a time and day when all of us pause for just a moment to give thanks and appreciation to whomever or whatever we believe deserves the credit. I sincerely try to speak to my God on a daily basis but I admit on most days it is praying for what I want and need, rather than giving thanks for what He has already provided. Prosperity Is All Relative
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15 Oct 2009 Sustainable Packaging and Staples – Still Not Easy!

[caption id="attachment_926" align="alignnone" width="350" caption="Staples Packaging Leaves Much to Be Desired"]Staples Packaging Leaves Much to Be Desired[/caption] Earlier this year, January 13th to be exact, I posted an article complaining about some very eco unfriendly secondary packaging I had received from one of our favorite suppliers, Staples. Large retailers often appear to be leading the green charge so the interest level they create is usually high and this was no exception. The post was soon picked up by Green Biz and other eco focused blogs and I even contacted them on at least two occasions and offered my services at no cost so I could help them determine where Staples' in house fulfillment “eco system” is obviously broken. I was told they were “working on it,” so as a loyal customer concerned about their secondary packaging as well as the environment, I waited, and waited until this week when we received delivery of an order we placed for two boxes of ink cartridges.

Staples Green Update – More Green Packaging Problems

The photo above show the two boxes of Canon ink cartridges which shipped from two different Staples facilities. I appreciate the fact that the order was split-shipped to be filled quickly but I find I hard to believe that neither facility had both items. I am not sure what type of carbon footprint that creates but the worse news is that each facility used a different way of packaging the product and neither passed the green test as far as we are concerned. The term one step forward and two steps backwards comes to mind when we compare it to the packaging described in our January blog post.

Package #1 Shipping from Beloit, WI

At this Staples distribution center the packer opted to use a plastic mailer envelope. Even though I don’t like flexible mailers for crushable product, I am generally a big proponent of mailer envelopes, plastic and paper. I like them because they are light weight, can be made of recycled content and in most areas may be recycled for creating more packaging or other plastic products. However, the mailer that Beloit used did not indicate any recycled content, and did not even offer a recycle code for handling the waste after use. This is a real shame considering some of the new plastic mailers that are available. We offer several that would be better eco options than what was used on this shipment.

Package #2 Shipping from Carol Stream, IL

At this facility they used a 13” long X 10” wide X 5” box (650 cubic inches) to ship a 4” X 2.25” X 2.75” product, or about 25 cubic inches, which is obviously much more box than was necessary.
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