Sustainable Perspective

21 Jul 2010 Hybrids Not Included – What Green Businesses Can Learn from Auto Makers

I could no longer put off a task that I enjoy almost as much as an IRS audit or root canal surgery – I had to shop for a new car. I know for some it is a fun occasion but for most of my life as a salesman, a car is a temporary business tool and shopping for one is the equivalent for me of a carpenter buying a new circular saw or a landscaper purchasing a new lawn mower. Today’s Society and Market Pressures In addition to truly hating the games and negotiating involved in the purchasing process, today we also have to deal with the questions of “hybrid or not” and “ foreign or domestic brand”? I realize the line on imported or domestic has become incredibly fuzzy with foreign car makers doing assembly in the US and we all know American car manufacturers are building their cars in other countries but we still tend to think of some brands as US made and others as imports. Perhaps for us the question of hybrid or not, is a much more difficult decision because we own and operate a high profile green business and because we truly believe we should minimize our own carbon footprint if we are going to guide others in doing so. Late last year I wrote a blog post about my wife’s new Honda Insight and how much she enjoyed it and I admit we really appreciate the mid forties MPG the car delivers. We set out on our car buying trip, with a hybrid as the ideal, likely choice for us. Auto Makers – To Green or Not to Green Our first two stops were at Chevy and Ford dealers because my wife and I had already decided that our preference would be to buy a U.S. brand this time around. However, we were both shocked by the lack of inventory at the Chevy dealer we visited and NO hybrid cars to offer. We went to the Ford dealer across the street and I immediately took a liking to a Ford Escape hybrid model. We were disappointed to determine that we probably knew as much about hybrid autos as the salesman who tried to help us. In addition, the floor model we were looking at was the only one they had in stock and the answer on anything we asked was NO! No deals, no financing, no incentives, no kidding. “We have a lot of great deals and promotions going but our hybrids are not included”.
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28 Jun 2010 Let’s Talk about Sustainable Packaging

[caption id="attachment_1562" align="alignnone" width="325" caption="Dennis Salazar, Sustainable Packaging Speaker"][/caption] Over the course of the last three years I have been privileged to share my, at times, unusual perspective on eco friendly packaging with many audiences ranging from high school students to the International Housewares Show. I...

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23 Jun 2010 Packaging Sustainability and Baby Steps

[caption id="attachment_1551" align="alignnone" width="400"] Too Much Packaging![/caption] The nouveau green packaging industry loves to talk about biodegradability, recyclability, compostability, recycled content, PLA, PCW and a constantly growing variety of green acronyms. They are also just as eager to debate which product or process is best for the customer and for the environment. We ourselves are helping to lead the charge on reusable and recycled content packaging products but often times we all over look the easiest sustainability “R” of all and that is reduce. Packaging reduction opportunities are usually very simple to identify and almost always even easier to correct.

A Perfect Example - A Recent Shipment from is a terrific company and one of my personal favorites but the recent order (photo) we received from them caught my attention. The box they used to ship our order of baby shoes is obviously more than two times larger than it really needed to be. To be fair, it could have been almost any internet retailer, shipping almost any order and most of them are indeed guilty of this same sustainability crime. I realize it is possible the packer simply selected the wrong size box but having reviewed and assessed many order picking and packing stations; I know the correct size box is usually not available for the packer to utilize. “Use the smallest box available” is the common direction a packer receives but the smallest box available is frequently not the right size for the application and product being shipped. Using an oversized box obviously adds packaging material cost as well as much more difficult to calculate costs such as storage space, shipping cube space, fuel costs, load inefficiencies, etc. Perhaps even more important, it just plain looks wasteful to an ever vigilant eco conscious consumer.
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14 Jun 2010 Green Accountability and Visibility of Imported Reusable Bags

At a recent conference I attended as I was walking the show aisles, I was handed an “eco friendly reusable bag” by one of the exhibitors. As you can imagine, that always gets my attention, plus by that time, I was carrying sufficient items and information, to be grateful for a bag. What the Green Supplier Wants You to See We’re not going to get into the bag manufacturer or even the exhibitor that was handing the bags out, because it could have been one of many different suppliers who put a bright spotlight on the green speak and intentionally places the questionable details in the dark.
What the bag supplier chose to make highly visible is “80% post consumer waste” which was printed in large, bold letters on the side panel of the bag. “Pretty impressive,” I thought, knowing that rarely are non-woven reusable plastic bags made out of that high a recycled content, especially of PCW recycled content. “Certainly this bag must be domestic”, I guessed, knowing that as bad as we are about recycling our post consumer plastic waste, other countries are even worse. I walked the rest of the show, carrying and displaying my “eco friendly reusable bag”. Green Should Be Beautiful on the Inside, Too The following day when I emptied my bag, I looked at the two small labels inside and the incredibly tiny print on them. At very close inspection I realized the bag was made of 100% polypropylene and that it was manufactured in China. “Hmmm. That doesn’t sound right,” I thought, recalling the 80% PCW claim printed on the outside of the bag.
I have been told by people who import low cost plastic bags on a daily basis that many Chinese and other foreign manufacturers will gladly sew in any labels you want with any message you want. They are not inclined to allow the truth to get in the way of a good, green message. Their job is to manufacture products as inexpensively as possible and deliver it on time. It does not take a chemist or mathematician to figure out that if this bag is 100% polypropylene and 80% post consumer waste as they claim, 80% of the polypropylene waste was something else before it was collected, re-processed and re-extruded into a reusable, non-woven polypropylene bag. Here in the US, polypropylene is used mostly for drinking straws, yogurt cups, medicine bottle, ketchup bottles, and other food related packaging uses. What is the Truth about Plastic Recycling and Use?
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08 Jun 2010 The Green Get Greener with Reusable Packaging

[caption id="attachment_1508" align="alignnone" width="350" caption="You Can't Reuse Poor Quality Packaging"][/caption] Eco Bags is one of our newest customers but I think most would agree they are not band wagon jumpers in the area of reusable or sustainable packaging. In fact, they are often credited as having helped to build the wagon for others, because they’ve been suppliers of reusable shopping bags and other green products for over twenty years. They know green and live it on a daily basis including reusing packaging as often and in every way possible.

Reusable Green Products Deserve Reusable Green Packaging

A quick look at the Eco Bags website shows a wide variety of reusable and eco friendly products designed to help heal and preserve our planet. They offer beautiful stock and custom products in many shapes and colors from domestic manufacturers as well as other parts of the world. Importing product makes the reuse of factory packaging a challenge because the quality and standards in other parts of the world of some packaging products such as corrugated shipping boxes, are not high as ours. Importing also means the product and packaging have to make a long trip by boat with additional handling at both ends of the voyage. The end result is that in some cases (photo shown above) the poor quality packaging does not hold up nearly as well as the high quality products Eco Bags imports. Keep in mind that even when the foreign packaging survives the trip to Eco Bags, it will likely require additional shipment to a distribution point, fulfillment house, or even to a retailer. The product may also be custom printed which typically results in additional handling, shipment and repacking.

When Reusing Packaging Is Not Possible

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27 Apr 2010 Sustainable Packaging – It’s a Thing of Beauty and Health

[caption id="attachment_1396" align="alignnone" width="425" caption="Globe Guard Box Customers Making the Right Eco Statement"][/caption] Everything today is being scrutinized for its impact on the environment and on each of us as human beings. The old adage of “you are what you eat” is proven true and in terms of cosmetics, people now realize your skin is indeed your largest organ and what you apply on the surface has a way of working its way inside. I applaud this awakening and focus on external and internal health, and whether it is pure, organic, or simply just good for you and tasty, this is a very good thing. And in terms of a market, it is growing rapidly and growing skeptical even faster thanks to the prevalent green washing and outright deception we see in the market.

Eco Consistency Is Not Optional

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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"] 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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