Sustainable Perspective

23 Apr 2009 Earth Day Overload?

Al gore giving his global warming talk in Moun...
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I am in the business of green as are most of my friends and acquaintances but there was more green noise yesterday than I could even stand or absorb. With all due respect and tongue in cheek, You know I am obligated to add to it. “Top Ten Signs You Might Have Over Done Earth Day” 1. You now work the word “Eco-nomical” into every conversation 2. Your “genius” Earth Day Party Hat Collection made out of used plastic milk bottles did not sell well 3. You won “best float” in the Earth Day parade because you were the only entry 4. You are now contemplating cosmetic surgery to look more like Al Gore or maybe Tipper. 5. Your friends and family got ill at your Earth Day party because of your previously used, recycled paper plates
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14 Apr 2009 A Book Review of “Packaging Sustainability”, by Wendy Jedlicka

packaging-sustainability-by-wendy-jedlickaIn the interest of full disclosure I have to tell you I consider Wendy a personal friend and ally in our efforts to help make the world greener through packaging. Even though the book includes a photograph of my incredibly cute granddaughter (intro, page VI) and a reprint of something I recently wrote (page 14), I have absolutely no problem being straightforward with my comments on her book. In fact I would dare to say our relationship and friendship would suffer if I was less than honest in my appraisal of Wendy’s work. “Sustainability isn’t hard: it’s just not simple” That is the opening thought Wendy shares with us in her introduction, and I will admit that my initial concern was that any book about sustainability authored by a designer, especially an accomplished, talented designer like Wendy, would be technical and therefore somewhat boring for the average, non-designer reader like yours truly. I am very pleased to say Wendy wrote a book that can and should be read by anyone and everyone interested in sustainability from a buyer or seller, user or provider perspective. In other words, almost anyone with even a passing interest in green or in packaging can and will enjoy and learn something from reading Packaging Sustainability. No magic solutions or secret ingredients provided Wendy offers no easy answers because there rarely are any. For the person interested in a quick solution or an easy way out, there is none to be had in this book or any other book that is truthful and well informed. On the plus side, this book does not read like a designer’s text book and is filled with excellent case studies, examples and of course Wendy’s well informed insight and very obvious experience. If you too have strong feelings about sustainability, you may not always fully agree with everything Wendy has written but you undoubtedly will conclude it is well thought out and well presented.
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07 Apr 2009 Sustainable Packaging – It Can Be So Degrading, or Not

Whether you are talking about composting, oxo-degradability or biodegradability, the options are numerous, the facts confusing and the claims are very often downright misleading. The cartoon shown is appearing in the April issue of Packaging World magazine and it would be great if any degradable packaging product really worked as well or as quickly as the product Eco Ed is complaining about. The fact is that few do. Composting This option seems to be the favorite of food service companies because quite often their waste includes scrap food waste. It would be absolutely fantastic if that disposable plate, spoon, or clamshell style container could be composted along with the food waste it may contain and then the earth would be a big, happy and green place. Unfortunately the fine print on most “compostable” products is that it will only degrade or breakdown in a municipal or industrial compost facility. So I went to and typed in my home state of Illinois. I was pleased to see seven composting facilities listed but when I clicked for more information I found out they all do composting of yard waste, not the type of food and food service waste we need to be processed. Keep in mind there are people who buy these products who actually believe they will be able to process them in their back yard compost heap. All I can suggest is keep the house in the family and perhaps the grand kids will live long enough see these products degrade.
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05 Mar 2009 Are We Moving to Greener Business Pastures?

We need sustainable packaging Not long ago company president Dennis Salazar wrote an excellent article entitled Is There a Disconnect In Your Green Business?, which appeared on In the article, Dennis makes several important points about the difficulties large companies encounter in converting green business initiatives into action. I highly recommend this article to business leaders - with it's in-the-trenches perspective, it is quite illuminating. Many fear that our economy, which is plunging into deep recession, will work against the interest of a greener business environment. The main concern is that economic necessity will cause companies to limit or eliminate green initiatives due to cost and time constraints. In times like this, the argument goes, companies hunker down and resist any sort of change.
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26 Feb 2009 Teaming Up with Your Vendor to Reduce Your Corrugated Costs

sustainable corrugated boxes Everyone is feeling the pinch of the economy, which makes it a great time to reevaluate your vendor/customer relations and together determine if there are any ways to creatively reduce the price you are paying for corrugated and other packaging products. Trouble “Trickles Down” Too As we all look for ways to reduce costs, it is easy to become focused solely on our own individual needs but we are all in this together whether we like it or not. A good “win/win” scenario is not taking advantage of the other person twice, and good vendor relationships and alliances can and should work to the benefit of both parties. Creative Cost Reductions We all tend to get comfortable with the status quo and are busy enough to not have time to fix something that does not require fixing. Current economic circumstances suggest that we revisit some of those long existing relationships and buying habits to determine if there are changes that can be mutually beneficial to customer and vendor alike. It may help to begin the process by examining three critical areas: Order Quantity – there are many situations on many products including corrugated where a lower price is available if you are able to buy in a slightly larger quantity. Material prices tend to rise and fall but set up costs typically and consistently escalate. Amortizing these set up costs over a larger quantity and minimizing their impact is a great way for sellers and buyers to both gain and potentially reduce costs.
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19 Feb 2009 Organizational Eco-Consistency

Image by tomsaint11 via FlickrWe spend a lot of time talking and writing about eco-consistency from a marketing and customer relations perspective, especially in how it relates to secondary packaging. We are convinced that boxes, tape and other packaging materials say something about our green...

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10 Feb 2009 The 1982 Tylenol Murders and the Packaging Industry’s Response

Tylenol and tamper evident packaging

Some of our readers may be too young to remember but seeing the Tylenol poisonings back in the news has brought back some very profound, mixed feelings.

The Tragedy

For those who may not be aware, in September of 1982, seven people in the Chicago area were poisoned and died after ingesting tainted Tylenol. This horrible event literally hit close to home since several of the deaths occurred within miles of where my family and I lived at the time. Investigators quickly determined the product was being tainted and then placed on the retail shelf for innocent people to buy and take home. There was of course an immediate recall and this product was quickly removed from the shelf. From that moment on food and drug safety, and packaging would never be the same.

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29 Jan 2009 How to Persuade Prospects to Buy Your Eco-Friendly Products

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These days, it is increasingly difficult to sell products solely on the basis of their "greenness", particularly if the green product in question is more expensive than the non-green alternative. And even when your green product is less expensive, that may not close the sale. Customers are looking for total value. There is simply too much bottom-line pressure in our recessionary market for customers to think otherwise. Are you communicating the total value of your eco friendly product to your prospect? For example, does your product ...
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13 Jan 2009 For Staples, Eco Friendly Packaging – That ‘s not easy!

I realize I am negatively paraphrasing their marketing slogan but the change is quite appropriate after reviewing the packaging of an order they just shipped to us. As a customer, I admit I love Staples but as a provider of eco-friendly packaging products, and as a citizen of the earth, they are very disappointing.  I am sorry Staples, but picking and packing an order while utilizing sustainable packaging products and procedures, quite frankly, has never been easier. Complainants Exhibit A and B Staples order overpackaged
The photo above shows the three items we ordered whose combined volume is 582 square inches. The box they used was a 16” X 10.5” X12.25” high, which provides 2,058 square inches of packing space. Because the box was almost four times larger than it had to be, 600 (un-inflated) square inches of an inflatable void fill product had to be used to fill the oversized void.  Before you think this is just another story of a packer using the wrong box to fill an order, the green “wanna be” picture gets much worse for Staples.
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06 Jan 2009 Citizen Watches Wins Prestigious 2008 Globe Guard Eco-Consistency Award

Citizen Watch Company OK, I will admit we do not yet have an official Globe Guard Eco Consistency award, but if we did, it would be darn prestigious and we would award to Citizen Watch Company. That has to be worth something, right? The fact is that we, like so many others in the green business, are quick to criticize when companies are inconsistent in their packaging. Therefore, we should also be ready, willing and able to point out when they do something positive. Making Sure the Packaging “Fits” the Product Rightsizing is a given but making sure that the package is sustainably appropriate for the product you are selling is an often overlooked detail. It seems logical doesn’t it that if a watch maker creates a watch series they decide to name “Eco-Drive” it is going to appeal to people like me who believe we all use way too many battery powered items in our daily lives. We are also almost certain to scrutinize the packaging and see if it is consistent with the product it contains.
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