Sustainable Perspective

04 Feb 2010 Eco Power – The Selling of Green

eco friendly rayon socks display at sams club

How Eco Friendly Are These Rayon - Bamboo Socks, Really?


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. (more…)

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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.
  • (more…)

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15 Dec 2009 Plastic Bag Recycling – Another Step Forward in Sustainability

Learn Where to Recycle Your Plastic Bags

Learn Where to Recycle Your Plastic Bags


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. (more…)

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08 Dec 2009 Friends Don’t Let Friends Use Un-Green Packaging

Customers Will Judge You by Your Packaging

Customers Will Judge You by Your Packaging


Sure, our company sells eco friendly packaging supplies but my interest goes beyond the potential business. In an industry measured in billions, there is probably enough for everyone to get what they need and what they earn. No, my concern is more about the environment and “eco consistency” which is making sure your packaging is as green as the product you are selling and shipping.

Sustainability – Doesn’t End at the Door

loosefill packagingIn fact, we believe that is where it begins. As green business people we have to hold each other accountable and fortunately I have several die hard, green friends who will let me know if our green marketing ever begins to get ahead of the green facts. It is easy to get carried away or take things at face value as opposed to doing the homework and asking the tough questions of our suppliers. I appreciate it when a friend gives me corrective advice because if they see an inconsistency, it is a sure bet our highly intelligent, skeptical, eco minded customers will as well.

Especially if you are an internet based green company, when your product arrives at its destination, that is likely the first real contact you have with your new customer. The quality, cleanliness and yes, the greenness of your packaging is instantly evaluated.

Sustainable Packaging First Impressions

  • Is the packaging intact and did it do a good job of containing and protecting the contents? “My goodness, did this get dragged behind the truck?”
  • Is it excessive? “I ordered a DVD and this box could hold two basketballs!”
  • Is it attractive, is it branded and does it represent you well? “Who are these people”?
  • Is it eco consistent externally? “I can’t believe they shipped my baby’s organic cotton clothes in a plastic bag!”
  • Is it eco consistent internally? “I did not even realize they still made packing peanuts.”
  • Is it recycled content and/or recyclable? “Darn, this paper / poly mailer is going to wind up in a land fill.”

Packaging and the Contradictory Message

Simply put, if our product says “we care about the environment” then our packaging should communicate the same concern. If not, we are contradicting ourselves and our customers will spot it from a green mile away.
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eco-friendly-packaging-storeVisit the Globe Guard Green Packaging Store for –

Eco Friendly Shipping Boxes
Green Packaging Materials
Special Deals on Green Shipping Supplies

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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
(more…)

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15 Oct 2009 Sustainable Packaging and Staples – Still Not Easy!

Staples Packaging Leaves Much to Be Desired

Staples Packaging Leaves Much to Be Desired


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.
(more…)

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08 Sep 2009 Eco Ed Has a New Home

Eco Ed #1 – April, 2008

Eco Ed #1 – April, 2008


We are very glad to announce that as on this month, our cartoon series “Eco Ed” will be appearing in Packaging Digest’s digital and print versions.

Is Sustainability Funny?

Over a year ago, Eco Ed co-creator Brad Shorr and I agreed there was way too much humor in the green world to let it go to waste. We talked about how often we both felt confused by the volume of often conflicting information that is out there regarding sustainability.

That led to the creation of our character, Eco Ed, a regular guy who is sincerely interested in doing the right thing, but is rarely sure what that might be. Or perhaps at other times, Ed grabs a good, green idea and takes it way too far to be practical. In any case, we can probably all relate to Ed to some degree or we may even know someone that is much like Ed.

Packaging Digest and Eco Ed

The good people at PD agreed sustainability could often use a laugh or at least a chuckle so Eco Ed will be appearing monthly. On the print magazine version, look for it on the page opposite the inside back cover and on the website as well.

We hope you will enjoy it!

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20 Aug 2009 Spreading the Green Packaging Word

Six weeks ago I agreed to write a blog for Packaging Digest and quite frankly I was not sure how it was going to work out. After all writing two posts per week here on ISP and an occasional post on great eco focused sites like GreenBiz and Sustainable is Good does take some time.

Packaging DigestI am glad to say it has worked out great. The people at Reed Business have been super to work with and it provides me an outlet to write on some “meatier” topics. If you have not checked out Packaging Digest recently or my blog, “Common Sense and Sustainability”, please do. You will find these recent posts:

Please feel free to contact me (off line if you prefer) and I will gladly answer any questions. I appreciate all comments and perspectives, even when they don’t necessarily agree with mine.
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eco-friendly-packaging-storeVisit the Globe Guard Eco Friendly Packaging Store for –

Eco Friendly Corrugated Boxes

Eco Friendly Shipping Supplies

Special Deals on Packaging Supplies

and more!

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18 Aug 2009 When Eco and Comfort Clash

Tough Decisions for American Car Buyers

I think my commitment to green is being tested much like my patience is tried on an almost daily basis. The lease on my company car has run out and I am stuck in a frustrating state of indecision. Even after you decide whether or not the purchase of a new car is a wise thing to do in the current economic state, you are still left with a wide variety of smaller and even tougher decisions to make.

American or foreign brand?

toyota-priusThere has always been a part of me that prefers to buy American whenever possible but is that smart when so much of the domestic automobile industry is on the brink of failure? I am sure I am not the only potential car buyer concerned about warranties, parts availability and even resale/trade in value of some makes and models.

For so long “foreign” meant manufactured in Europe or Japan but now manufacturers from China and South Korea are also working for their share of the US market, making good cars and tougher choices.

Domestic manufactured or domestic assembled?

Many of the foreign cars today are at least in part assembled in the U.S. so that line has become very hazy at best. I was surprised some manufacturers are doing assembly in Canada. That may not be domestic but I can hardly consider that foreign.

Luxury versus practical? (more…)

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04 Aug 2009 From “Going Green” to “Growing Green”

eco-friendly-planet
Over the weekend I had some time to reflect on how far we have come as a company and product line (Globe Guard) but more importantly how far green businesses in general have come. Certainly green companies have grown and matured and some have become very successful by being exactly what they should be.

Characteristics of a Green Company

  • Authentic – they are legitimately green and not just jumping aboard the band wagon
  • Innovative – creating new products and services that the market wants and needs
  • Competitive – in terms of quality, performance and price
  • Consistent – every person within the organization follows the green path every day with no room for compromise or shortcuts

Green Is Authentic

This is an absolute must because the market demands it. I often describe green buyers as skeptical and that is a gross understatement. The massive amount of green washing to be found in the market place forces green minded consumers to be downright mistrusting and unforgiving when they are wronged. Be prepared for the questions because they will be asked and understandably so. The market is getting smarter so looking green and claiming green are not nearly enough.

Green Is Innovative

I am thrilled and encouraged that real solutions are indeed being developed. I respect the green minded person who complains about the use of plastic coffee stirrers but I applaud the individual who develops a good alternative. When I see what companies are doing in terms of up-cycling, I am amazed. Turning waste into something better than it originally was, is an amazing feat. An example is recycled glass being turned into expensive counter tops and tiles. We are also creating and saving almost every form of energy at unheard of rates and having a legitimate and positive impact on the environment.

Green Is Competitive (more…)

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