eco ramblings

a dialogue with an Eco Patriot

Archive for the ‘Boulder’ Category

From Boulder to Aruba

Posted by Luke on November 5, 2010

My friends just had their honeymoon in Aruba and drank out of Eco-Products’ GreenStripe® hot cups every morning.  This picture was too idyllic not to post.

When you see our products out and about or when you’re traveling, please snap a picture and shoot me an email.  I love hearing about it no matter where you are.  Aruba is a tough one to top though.


Posted in Boulder, brand loyalty, cups, Eco-Products | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Steve Savage of Eco-Products Named ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’

Posted by Luke on October 11, 2010

I attended an award ceremony on October 7th that recognized Steve Savage, the Founder and Chairman of Eco-Products, as the Entrepreneur of the Year by the Boulder Chamber of Commerce.  With Boulder being the Best Town for Startups, according to BusinessWeek, and a top place for entrepreneurs, according to Fast Company, and owning numerous other titles for being an entrepreneurial haven (see my previous post: Boulder’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem), claiming the title of Entrepreneur of the Year is a huge freaking deal.  It’s like being named the best sushi chef in Japan, or the top skier in Vail, or the the smartest guy at Harvard Cornell (my school spirit shines on).

Starting companies is no random act for Steve.  He also founded Ellie’s Eco Home Store, a natural products retail store in Boulder, and his latest venture is called National Eco Wholesale, a national wholesaler of retail products.  Steve also isn’t a newcomer to winning awards.  Here are some of the others he’s won in the past 2-3 years:

  • 40 Under 40 by the Natural Foods Merchandiser
  • Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist from Ernst & Young
  • Boulder County Business Report’s Eco-Hero Award
  • Champion of the Environment Award by Thorne Ecological Institute

And I know he’s just getting started.

Congratulations Steve.  It’s well-deserved.

Posted in awards, Boulder, Eco-Products, startup | Leave a Comment »

Boulder Fire

Posted by Luke on September 8, 2010

There has been a terrible wildfire in Boulder the past couple days.  It started in the foothills just west of town on Monday and has burned over 7,000 acres and nearly 100 buildings since then.  Approximately 3,000 people have been evacuated from their homes.  It’s the largest fire in the county’s history, and there’s a huge cloud of smoke over the town and surrounding areas.  Fortunately, the fire hasn’t come into the city of Boulder, but there are other small communities in the hills that have been demolished.  It’s a sad state.

Times like this make me appreciate my life and realize how fortunate I am.  People have lost their homes, lost their photographs, and lost their pets.  It’s sad that it takes a tragedy or natural disaster to make me realize that no business success or closed sale or customer win can compensate for the truly important things in life.  It puts into perspective just how small and insignificant my daily activities are even though when I’m doing them I feel like I can change the environment, the industry, or at least my life.  Despite that, it is still important that I do those things.  I guess the key is to maintain balance and do those things knowing what’s truly most important.

“Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.” -Gandhi

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Half-Ass Hotel Greening Efforts

Posted by Luke on July 27, 2010

It’s surprising that the hotel industry doesn’t put forth more effort to be sustainable.  There are very few hotels that have sustainability as part of their core philosophy.  The Boulder Outlook Hotel is an exception.  They compost or recycle over 80% of their waste.  I only wish Boulder Outlook’s existed across the country.

Today I’m in Indiana staying in a major national hotel chain.  I walked into the lobby to check in and had an empty water bottle in my hand from the flight.  It’s 90+ degrees and humid in Indy.  I asked the front desk employee if he could recycle the bottle for me.  He looked at me as if I had two heads and said, “No, but I can throw it away for you.”  Here I am, in the heartland of middle-America, and they don’t recycle.

I get to my room and walk into the bathroom.  There I find a typical water conservation sign.

Is this sign really necessary?  Hotels like this aren’t trying to be green by conserving water.  They’re trying to save money and reduce labor expenses.  Let’s call it what it is and stop green washing guests.

I look around and see they have plastic-wrapped polystyrene cups.  On one side of the sink they are asking me to save the planet by conserving water.  On the other side they are offering non-recyclable polystyrene cups and refusing to recycle something as simple as a water bottle.

How hard would it be to put a blue bin in the room next to the trash can?  It should be illegal to not offer recycling as I mentioned in a previous post.  I’ve only found two hotels in my entire life that offer in-room recycling – the Boulder Outlook Hotel and the Sheraton Resort in Steamboat Springs, CO.

Sheraton Resort in Steamboat Springs

If anyone knows of a resource to locate green hotels and review them on their green efforts, please let me know.

Posted in Boulder, greenwashing, recycling, sustainability, zero waste | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Why We Need Curbside Composting Programs and Where to Start

Posted by Luke on July 22, 2010

Today on, a site dedicated to news on the Triple Bottom Line of business, Dinesh Thirupuvanam wrote a great article on why we need curbside composting programs.  He outlined two steps that need to occur which include (1) a uniform labeling standard for compostable products, and (2) improving acceptance of compostable packaging at composting facilities (ensuring each facility doesn’t have their own standards or certification program).  I am in complete agreement with Dinesh’s approach.  It makes perfect sense.  And I appreciate Dinesh referencing my post about the debate over how to label compostable products.

I also think it’s important for municipalities who are considering curbside composting to take the plunge and just do it.  The benefits of such programs are immense.  In Boulder we have a bi-weekly residential curbside composting pickup and I now send very little trash to the landfill.  It feels great taking out the trash because I have so little to take out.  Not to mention that composting has an enormous impact on reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions.  34% of all human generated methane emissions are from landfills, and food waste comprises approximately 13% of total landfill mass.

My belief is that we shouldn’t wait for the silver bullet of a labeling standard.  It will take years, if not decades, for a common standard to be developed.  I’m on the Board of Directors for the Biodegradable Products Institute and I’m involved in this industry debate on several different levels.  We’re not going to find a solution overnight.  There are just too many stakeholders to have this occur as quickly as we’d all like.

The best way to learn is to just give it a shot.  We’ll have more people educated on the subject and more people working on finding the best possible solution.

Posted in Boulder, compostable products, composting, GHG, Landiflls, packaging, zero waste | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

My New Favorite Mechanic

Posted by Luke on June 3, 2010

It’s hard to find a good mechanic.  I’m happy to say I don’t have to worry about that anymore.  Eco-Products recently began offering a new employee perk involving a green car mechanic.  We bring Green Garage, a Boulder-based startup that does nothing but green car repair, to our offices once a quarter and reimburse employees $10 for any oil change and $20 for any other service.  Green Garage also offers all of our employees a discount if we get a certain number of employees to participate.  They have a mobile garage they bring with them to our building.  And as part of their normal service, they will pickup customers’ cars and drop them back off to your home or office.  That’s impressive!

Green Garage's Mobile Garage at the Eco-Products Building

What really excites me about their services is that, in addition to being better for the environment, they are also better for cars.  For example, their $69.95 oil change lasts for 10,000 miles, increases fuel efficiency, includes API approved Biodegradable oil which lasts for 24,000 miles, and includes a 53 point inspection and Energy Intervention.  A few of their 60 eco-friendly services are listed below.

If you don’t live in Boulder, sit tight.  Green Garage is expanding rapidly.  They are planning to be a nationwide company in the not too distant future.

High‐performance Dual Stage Oil Filter

Think ’super strainer’ that filters down to 3 microns instead of ‘chunky’ conventional filters at 30 microns. That’s 10 times more maximum purity through a two part, parallel filtration system. Increases your fuel economy up to 5%, lasts twice as long as normal filters and can decrease oil use by 70%.

oilMotor Oil

We offer two Green Garage approved earth and wallet friendly oil options: choose a re‐refined oil or one made from biodegradable animal by-products. Both are API approved and last up to 24,000 miles when matched with our dual stage oil filter. C’mon, step up and do your part to reduce waste and our dependence on foreign oil.

nitrogenNitrogen Tire Fill

Blow up your tires and in as little as one week they can become under‐ inflated, sapping fuel economy as much as 3%. So why not blow them up right and fill your tires with nitrogen. Nitrogen’s molecules are much bigger than plain air so it slows leakage, is less variable in changing temperatures and extends tire life by producing less tire‐deteriorating water vapor than air.

Posted in Boulder, sustainability | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Boulder’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Posted by Luke on May 15, 2010

For all of the stereotypes that exist about Boulder (see “25 Miles Surrounded by Reality”), it’s a great place to locate a company.  It’s commonly referred to as the mecca of both the natural products and smart grid industries.  It has also quickly become a haven for tech startups.

I recently heard about an award the city won from Business Week magazine.  Boulder was named the “Best Town for Startups.”  Way to go Boulder.  There are some groups in town that deserve recognition for making this happen.

Of those groups are a couple of progressive VCs such as Greenmont Capital Partners and The Foundry Group who are investing in building an entrepreneurial community.  Clearly it’s paying off.  They are doing things such as developing entrepreneurial activities at CU, hosting events to connect entrepreneurs with VCs, and creating programs such as TechStars and Startup Weekend.  The Foundry Group was recently featured on the cover of the business section of the New York Times for their work in developing Boulder into a startup hub.

Another group that has played an instrumental role in developing the entrepreneurial community here is the Boulder Innovation Center.  They do a lot of work with tech transfer startups from CU.  To all of these groups and the numerous others who have built Boulder’s vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem, thank you.  It’s incredible to be a part of and to live in a community like this.  I can’t imagine Eco-Products being located anywhere else.

I’ll close this post with a few other awards Boulder has won which speaks to what a great place it is to work and live.  You can tell I like it here.

  • #2 Healthiest Town in the U.S. by Men’s Health (2010)
  • #1 Strongest U.S. Housing Market by Business Week (2009)
  • #1 City to Raise an Outdoor Kid by Backpacker Magazine (2009)
  • #1 Town to Live Well by Forbes (2009)
  • #1 Most Educated City in America by Forbes (2008)
  • #5 Best Green Places to Live by Country Home Magazine (2008)

Posted in awards, Boulder, innovation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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