eco ramblings

a dialogue with an Eco Patriot

Archive for April, 2010

Eco-Products is Hiring

Posted by Luke on April 30, 2010

We are currently looking for an Associate Product Marketing Manager.  The position is primarily responsible for effectively marketing assigned product lines and managing marketing activity in designated channels.  That includes evaluating the current category offering, identifying opportunities for expansion, managing the products through the entire product life cycle,  positioning the products against competitive offerings, and much more.

We are looking for someone with 5 or more years of experience in product marketing, brand management, or category management.  Experience in foodservice disposables or similar distribution channels is strongly preferred.  The person needs to be a self starter looking to make a contribution in a fun, growing company.  A BS degree is required and an MBA is a big plus.

A full job description with info on how to apply can be found here…

Check back often because we are expecting to open up some other positions later this year.

Posted in Eco-Products, green jobs | Leave a Comment »

Container Man

Posted by Luke on April 27, 2010

The other day, my lovely wife, Brie, wrote a post on her blog about my obnoxious habit of always inspecting take-out containers when we go out to eat.   See, I have a lot of passion for my profession and sometimes that carries over into my home life.  Brie’s example in her post is pretty classic of my behavior, so I thought I’d share it.  Maybe other people can relate?  Or maybe I’m on my own on this one.

As I do when I come across blog posts or articles that contain false information, I have my response to her post at the bottom.

Container Man

Being married to the COO of Eco Products has its benefits.  For instance, when throwing a party, we have all the biodegradable supplies we’d ever need.  (So if we ever get around to having one, we’ll be good).

Also, when recycling things, I often come across one that I’m not sure I can recycle.  Not to worry.  Just ask Container Man, he’ll definitely have the answer.  Along with a detailed description as to why, of course.

However, there are moments when his passion for biodegradable containers is a bit over the top…

We will have just enjoyed a nice dinner out, and as the waitress walks over to to ask about dessert, Luke drops it:

“No thanks on dessert, but what I would like is one of your to-go containers.”  The sweet girl stands there, baffled at his query, looking at our empty plates.  Moments later and still confused, she walks the container over and hands it to him.  She watches as he examines it in front of her.

“Hmmm.  Styrofoam.  Too bad you guys are a bit behind the times.”  He giggles to himself, leaving her slightly mortified.

Having been a waitress myself, this is when I feel compelled to interject what he does for a living and why he cares so much about a damn container.  Poor thing.

At this point, our house is overflowing with every kind of cutlery, to-go box and container possible.  They are literally busting out of every closet and drawer in our house.  All so he can “check out the design.”

While I admire his commitment, I kind of want to throw them all out on the lawn to clean this place up a bit.  I mean hell, they’d eventually biodegrade anyway, right?

My Response:

Actually, the containers wouldn’t biodegrade if left out on the lawn. That’s a misconception and clearly I haven’t done enough education with you. I’ll put together a powerpoint presentation to walk you through the science and details behind it later tonight.

The containers would require a commercial composting environment which includes high heat (140 degrees) and high moisture content. Don’t worry though, even though they wouldn’t biodegrade naturally, they are made from corn or sugarcane or other renewable resources so you can feel good that your left-overs were placed in something natural as opposed to a plastic container made from oil.

Where is your Eco Patriotism? After all, it is Earth Day. You just happen to live in a house that celebrates Earth Day everyday. Lucky you!

Love,
Your Container Man

Posted in containers, take-out | Leave a Comment »

The Latest Eco-Products Celebrity Sighting

Posted by Luke on April 25, 2010

I usually receive an email a week from someone I know with a picture of an Eco-Products cup in some random place (I love these emails, so please keep them coming).  Last week I got an email from a friend at Yosemite National Park with our cups.  The week before it was a picture of our products from opening day at the New York Mets’ stadium.  This week was something a little different…

I was told about our cups on Donald Trump’s NBC show Celebrity Apprentice.  This wasn’t just any old ordinary sighting of our cups on TV though.  It was with someone who is a living legend for people who grew up in the 80’s.  The sighting is of Poison’s front man Bret Michaels using our cups on the show.  Apparently his days as a touring musician are behind him because he’s a contestant on Trump’s show.

Everybody loves a little 80’s rock flashback, right?

Eco-Products' World Art Hot Cup on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice with Bret Michaels from Poison


Posted in Eco-Products | Leave a Comment »

Earth Day Plan B

Posted by Luke on April 22, 2010

Since there was a torrential downpour last night in Boulder, the conditions weren’t conducive to Eco-Products’ original Earth Day plans.  Instead of weeding noxious plants, our Eco Patriots quickly mobilized an effort to clean up the local Boulder Creek, bike path, and along a highway.  It was very worthwhile and we came back with about a dozen large trash bags full of litter.  It’s actually pretty gratifying doing service work.

Picking up trash along the Boulder Creek
Eco Patriots picking up trash along a highway

Posted in Eco-Products, event, trash | Leave a Comment »

Earth Day at Eco-Products

Posted by Luke on April 21, 2010

It sounds cheesy, but at Eco-Products we think everyday should be Earth Day.  Our mission revolves around making products that are gentler on the planet.  It’s what our employees are passionate about.  And when our employees aren’t in the office making greener products or talking with customers, they are typically outside enjoying mother earth.  They’re either hiking, biking, gardening, running, skiing, or doing other outdoor activities.

To follow our passion for enjoying and improving the earth, we decided to spend Earth Day out in the weeds (literally) improving the local ecosystem that we all enjoy on the weekends.  To kick off Earth Day, we’re having an organic barbecue.  After that, the employees of Eco-Products are heading to the Boulder Reservoir, putting on work gloves, and weeding an invasive species of plant called Tamarisk.

Now, you might be wondering why we are going to weed instead of doing something else.  Last year our employees did a project of cleaning up litter from the local river/creek in Boulder.  This year, though, we heard that the City of Boulder really needed some volunteers to help with this invasive plant and we thought it was a way to give back to our local community at the same time.

The Tamarisk is noxious because it creates a very salty habitat and soaks up all the moisture leaving none for other plants.  Ultimately, it takes over environments and prevents the growth of other plant species which help support a healthy ecosystem.  It also sheds very dry leaves that are highly flammable.  Given we typically have forest fire issues in Colorado, we’re hoping our weeding efforts help prevent a future fire.

I hope you’re able to get out of the weeds of day-to-day work on your Earth Day and enjoy the wonderful outdoors.

Posted in Eco-Products, event | Leave a Comment »

The Greenest Colleges & Universities

Posted by Luke on April 20, 2010

The Princeton Review recently published a guide to the greenest colleges.  It talks about how students’ decisions in choosing a college are  influenced by a university’s sustainability efforts.

  • 66 percent of high school respondents said they would value having information about a college’s commitment to the environment
  • 24 percent said such information would “very much” impact their decision to apply to or attend the school

I was disappointed that neither of my alma maters – Cornell and University of Colorado – were on the Princeton Review’s Green Honor Roll.  CU was previously ranked by the Sierra Club as the #1 most environmental school in the country.  As with most organizations who embark on green missions and must first define what green means to them, I guess the Princeton Review and the Sierra Club have their own definitions for “green.”

Posted in awards, universities | Leave a Comment »

Green Foodservice Insight

Posted by Luke on April 18, 2010

Eco-Products publishes an industry newsletter called Green Foodservice Insight.  What I like about it is that it isn’t self-serving and really tries to provoke sustainable thinking by talking about how to green a business,  case studies, and other industry news.  It’s quick to read and always has relevant information.  Maybe I’m a little biased, but I think our Marketing Team does a great job with it.

The latest edition can be viewed here…

Posted in Eco-Products, foodservice | Leave a Comment »

Tips for Avoiding Green Washing

Posted by Luke on April 15, 2010

As a follow up to my earlier post on taking action against manufacturers who mislead consumers, here are some steps businesses can take to make sure they don’t end up in similar situation that Georgia-Pacific is in by falsely advertising their products.

If you want more info, these steps came directly from an article called 8 Tips to Acing Green Guidelines.

  1. Be specific in your claims. Claims such as sustainable, recyclable, natural, and compostable should all have qualifying statements.  Check with this guide on the Federal Trade Commission’s website for clarification on how to correctly use potentially vague and subjective terms.
  2. Provide proof from third parties. Having a third party such as an independent research firm, trade association, industry institute, or other valid unbiased group helps prevent misinterpretation and misleading of consumers.
  3. Check to see that compliance certificates are up-to-date. If you claim your products are compliant with an industry standard or other governing body, make sure the compliance docs are current.
  4. Provide supporting documentation for heavy metals limits and other ingredient claims. This documentation can be from an independent testing laboratory.
  5. Be aware of your state’s renewable energy resources. If you are making a claim about your energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, check with your state to ensure you are taking into account the correct type of energy source.  This can have a big impact on your numbers.
  6. Be clear with recycling, biodegradation, and compostability claims. Make sure your products pass ASTM D6400 and D6868 tests and are certified by a third party such as the Biodegradable Products Institute.
  7. Be specific with source-reduction claims. Statements such as “uses less material” or “creates less waste” aren’t descriptive enough.  To avoid misleading consumers and getting in trouble with the FTC, make sure the statements indicate what the comparison is to – i.e. “uses 20% less material than XYZ product.”
  8. Ensure statistical differences of 15% or more. To really have a better product, the test results should indicate a statistically significant result than your comparison product.  Using 15% as that statistical difference will help keep you out of trouble.

Posted in green guidelines, greenwashing, marketing | Leave a Comment »

Taking Action Against Companies Who Mislead Consumers

Posted by Luke on April 12, 2010

As a consumer, I often take product claims for granted assuming they are true and accurate.  After all, consumers shouldn’t have to validate product claims, right?  It’s unethical for companies to lie.  And it’s largely impractical for consumers to research claims at the point of selecting products which typically occurs in store aisles.

Unfortunately, false advertising is everywhere.  That’s particularly true as companies try to market any potential green attribute a product may have, even if it’s misleading.  That’s increasingly been the case in the foodservice packaging industry.

I recently came across a prime example of a false advertisement by a Fortune 100 company.   Georgia-Pacific, a multi-billion dollar manufacturer of some very well known consumer products, is claiming that their Dixie PerfecTouch hot cups are compostable.  That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Catalog

PerfecTouch cups have a thick coating of polyethylene on the outside for insulation purposes.  The cups do not meet ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standards for compostability, nor are the cups approved by the Biodegradable Products Institute.

It’s sad that companies like this feel they have to misrepresent their products to appeal to consumers.  Consumers should know what we’re getting and get what we pay for.

Here are a couple ways to get companies like this to stop falsely advertising their products:

  • Submit a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission on the FTC website
  • File a complaint with the National Advertising Division of the Better Business Bureau.  This route is meant more for businesses to file complaints against other businesses and can be very effective.
  • Complain directly to the company misleading consumers
  • Blog.  If you know the facts, engage a discussion online
  • Tell retailers.  They are liable for misleading consumers as well if they don’t validate the claims of the  products they carry

Screenshot From GP's Website

Posted in compostable, foodservice, greenwashing, marketing | 2 Comments »

Taking Stretch Goals Too Far

Posted by Luke on April 8, 2010

I consider myself goal oriented, and I definitely like to have a stretch goal in place.  As a child, my stretch goal was to play in the NBA.  I didn’t quite achieve that one – white men can’t jump, as the movie goes. 

Recently, I’ve been seeing an abundance of press releases by companies publicly declaring sustainability goals, often times stretch goals.  On one hand, I think that’s great.  It will create accountability if the public is watching.  On the other hand, these announcements are often used as branding stints.

I’m perplexed by the latest sustainability goal a major company just announced.  See if you can guess which one I’m referring to.

  • Starbucks’ goal to make all of their cups either reusable or recyclable by 2012
  • Frito Lay shooting to be zero landfill by 2020
  • Sony Corp. striving for a zero environmental footprint by 2050

The first two are definitely big goals, but the timeframe to achieve them are in the relatively near future which makes them feel like real, attainable goals.  The last one – Sony striving for zero environmental footprint by 2050?!  Really?  2050?  Now, that’s out there.  I hope I’m alive in 40 years.  I like the ambition to have zero environmental impact; it just seems odd to me that a company would make such a big deal publicly about a goal for 2050.  We don’t know what the world will be like in 40 years.  The internet didn’t become a part of everyday life until 15 years ago, less for most people. 

I’m going to start taking wagers.  Can Sony do it?  Will Sony even be around in 40 years?  If they are around, will the management team still want to pursue it? 

Thinking optimistically, I think they can do it.  I wouldn’t have the same level of confidence in many other companies who set this goal, but Sony is pretty world-class.  I just hope the media, their shareholders, and consumers hold them accountable since they are making such a big deal out of it.   Maybe this will convince the entire electronics industry to follow suit.

Posted in footprint, greenwashing, marketing, zero waste | Leave a Comment »

 
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