Category Archives: Recycling

Repurpose on Purpose


With the advent of large-scale recycling programs, recycling has been a regular way of life for decades. Although there are those who choose not to take part, the option is widespread. A recent study conducted by Moore Recycling Associates notes that more than 90% of the American population has access to recycling. Glass and bottles separated from paper and left curbside are sorted by commodity and used in the manufacturing of new products.

The fashion outlet Littleearth actually makes a business out of recycling products into “eco-fashion” – by taking seatbelts, hubcaps and license plates and turning them into belts, purses and wine caddies. (The company also offers fender plate bags featuring sports team logos, from baseball to hockey, football to basketball.)

Not only do many Americans recycle, but prefer to do business with companies that also do so, and not just on Earth Day (April 22) but every day of the year. Recently, the National Restaurant Association conducted a survey showing that three out of five consumers prefer to visit restaurants that recycle, including food packaging and on-site receptacles. This consumer mindset scales many industries. So drycleaners encourage the return of plastic hangers. Office supply stores set up drop-off bins for batteries, while grocery stores around the country display receptacles for the return of plastic bags. Even Ziplock sandwich bags can be dropped off for recycling in some locations.

Despite a disposable, mass-produced goods society, a good deal of consumers still like taking a product and reusing it several times before discarding, especially the packaging. Big brown empty boxes are reused for moving or storage, shirt boxes often are the perfect size for wrapping gifts. Some pizza boxes which tear into equal sections, forming plates for guests, are dual designed and a selling point for the eco-conscious. Shopping bags, whether paper or plastic, are constantly reused on a daily basis for a ton of different reasons. It’s hard to go through a day without seeing a shopping bag. One inventor, Akinori Ito of Japan, has found a way to turn plastic bags into crude oil.

Americans use billions and billions of bags annually. The average consumer takes home at least 600 grocery bags and as many as 1,200 bags annually, more for those who make two trips per week to the supermarket. What kind of bag is your establishment offering?

Falsely Green


There is a big difference between admiring an ad and believing its message. There is a big chasm between rhetoric and reality and you can bet your bottom line that your clients know that difference. Boasting about excellent customer service, then leaving a caller on hold for three hours? That’s not going to get anyone to take your claims seriously. Or for another example, say you own a plumbing or electrical firm, and promise “same day service or its free”. Then proceed to break that promise by finding excuses not to honor the pledge? Your company will either become a laughingstock or resented, perhaps used as a last resort when the other, more reputable plumbers are busy.

Same goes for making earth-friendly promises, then reneging or acting hypocritical with operational procedures or practices. Claiming to be eco-conscious and then packing items in multiple layers of non-biodegradable bags just doesn’t cut it.

More than ever, consumers are looking for products from companies that are going green. But just claiming to be green is a huge turnoff and can actually create a backlash, sending companies into the red. The results of this year’s Cone Green Gap Trend Tracker show that 71% of American consumers will stop buying a product if the environmental claims turn out to be false. In addition, a third of these consumers will outright boycott the company if a product does not live up to its eco-friendly claim.

This means if a coffee company claims its bags are “100% compostable” then the packaging has to be fully biodegradable, not partially. (SunChips launched a 100% plant-based biodegradable packaging. After consumers in the hundreds of thousands complained about the bag noise, Frito-Lay pulled the design. Companies that go with 100% compostable paper bags do not see such consumer outrage, or 44,000 Facebook friends setting up a page just to complain.)

Also, it doesn’t do your company any favors to imply endorsement by an environmental group. The most egregious, however, is to create a fake endorsement by an unverified third party. Similar to diploma mills, fake eco-labels are meaningless, and handed out left and right at whim. Some have even claimed that a product helps “fight global warming” which is a rather ridiculous assertion that can’t be verified.

Maybe a company can get away with such claims in the short term. Selling products to a number of strangers might be one way to make sales. Is it possible to continue building such a business? To retain the customer base, the consumers must have trust in your product and your company. Environmentally friendly packaging that is not friendly to the consumer is not going to impress too many customers.

Trying to ride the green buzz just for buzz sake is not going to fly either. More than half of your clients will be naturally skeptical to green claims. Don’t tarnish your reputation with false claims. If you want to go green, go green and mean it.

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