In Episode 92 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on March 16, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Dick Lyons, co-founder of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Gary Barker, founder and CEO of two companies. GreenHeart Global conceives, designs, develops and produces sustainable products for clients such as The Gap, LL Bean, Adidas, O’Neill and more. Ditto Sustainable Brand Solutions designs, manufactures and sells a line of sustainable hangers (to replace plastic and metal hangers) that are used in more than 5,000 stores world-wide.

Gary Barker, founder of Ditto Sustainable Brand Solutions

Gary Barker, founder of Ditto Sustainable Brand Solutions

Greenheart’s flagship design is its Ditto Hangers, which launched in 2007 after several years of R&D.  As many as 15 billion plastic retail hangers are made every year with 85 percent of them winding up in landfill.  Wire dry cleaning hangers had not experienced any design innovation for 60 years. The Ditto Hanger, in contrast, is made of 100 percent compressed, recycled paper and other recyclable materials such as starch-based adhesive and soy-based inks.  Made using certified manufacturers and certified non-toxic materials, a Ditto Hanger can hold more than 20 pounds and has won several international design awards.  Consumers can purchase them themselves at the Container Store, on Amazon and through www.dittohangers.com, among other places.

In developing, manufacturing and selling Ditto Hangers, Barker learned a lot about design, materials, sourcing, manufacturing, shipping and warehousing logistics, marketing, PR, branding, logos and displays.  That knowledge is applied to Ditto Sustainable Brand Solutions clients, including Disney, Levi’s and Addidas.  Launching a sustainable product “takes a lot of determination,” says Barker, who describes himself as a “bulldog” when it comes to his products.

Would you consider swapping out your hangers for Ditto Hangers?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Gary Barker:  Episode 92 of The Wendel Forum (27:41 mins; mp3)

GreenHeart Global’s Web Page: http://www.greenheartglobal.com/home/

Ditto Sustainable Brand Solutions’ Web Page: http://dittobrandsolutions.com/home/

960 KNEW AM Radio Website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Dick Lyons’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/rlyons

In Episode 86 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on December 8, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Neil Grimmer, CEO and founder of Plum Organics, a line of healthy, organic foods for babies, toddlers and children.

Neil Grimmer, Founder of Plum Organics

Neil Grimmer, Founder of Plum Organics

Plum Organics was founded six years ago by a small group of parents who sought to raise healthy-well rounded eaters. The company has grown rapidly – it started with six products and now has 130, including cereals, snacks and training meals.

The baby food market is a competitive space, with heavy weights like Gerber, Beach Nut and Earth’s Best, which have been in business for decades.  Plum Organics differentiated itself by focusing on high design and great packaging, and targeting modern parents who share the values of sustainability and health.  Plum pioneered the spouted pouch, and the company’s R&D group is continually looking for new materials for sustainable packaging.  Progressive pediatrician Alan Green is the company’s health advisor and a contributor to its website.

A certified B Corp, Plum Organics sought investors that not only had cash, but also understood  the culture of Plum Organics and were similarly passionate about the mission of improving the health of kids and the planet.

Have you tried Plum Organics products?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Grimmer:  Episode 86 of The Wendel Forum (27:47 mins; mp3)

Plum Organics Website: http://www.plumorganics.com

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

In Episode 79 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on October 6, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Dick Lyons, co-founder of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Peggy Cross, founder of Bay Area-based EcoTensil, which produces eating utensils made from sustainable materials.

Peggy Cross of EcoTensil

With a background in packaging and marketing, Cross developed a whole line of certified compostable eating utensils made from “silky smooth” paperboard, similar in mouth feel to a soda cup.  The taster spoons are a particularly better alternative to plastic tasters, which are made from petroleum in China and are used for two seconds at ice cream shops, grocery stores or at trade shows, yet will exist on the planet for thousands of years.  In contrast, EcoTensil’s taster spoon offers efficiencies in storage, shipping and waste management, and companies using it can offer customers something obviously greener.  Interestingly, EcoTensil’s first clients, which still represent 25 percent of her business, were prisons because users can’t hurt themselves or others with a paper spoon.

In launching EcoTensil, Cross learned that everything in the start-up world takes longer than you think and costs twice as much money.  As a result, she recommends not launching a start-up without an abundance of tenacity and perseverance.  She also says that entrepreneurs should not just want to make money, but they must also have a passion for what they do.

Wouldn’t you like to ditch the splintery wooden taster spoon?
Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Peggy Cross: Episode 79 of The Wendel Forum (27:49 mins; mp3)

EcoTensil Website: http://ecotensil.com/about.html

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Dick Lyons’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/rylons

What does the Iberian Lynx have to do with a bottle of wine?  The Cork Forest Conservation Alliance. 

In Episode 48 of The Wendel Forum(originally aired on January 28, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show host Bill Acevedo welcomes Patrick Spencer, Executive Director of Cork Forest Conservation Alliance (CFCA).

Originally founded in 2008 as Cork ReHarvest, the Oregon-based CFCA is a nonprofit that campaigns globally for the protection and preservation of the Mediterranean cork forests, its inhabitants (including the Iberian Lynx) and biodiversity, through education, direct action, and partnerships with communities, businesses and governments. In addition to the group’s educational campaigns, a major piece of their work is to collect and recycle cork before it reaches a landfill. Bill and Patrick discuss the group’s four main areas of focus, and the new “Real Cork Inside” program.

Recycling

CFCA has developed a distribution network to collect used wine natural corks and recycle them close to where they are collected, thereby reducing the carbon footprint in the recycling circle.  Whole Foods Markets, with drop off locations in their 300 stores in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., is by far their largest partner.  There are many other locations in the network with drop-off locations from Surry, British Columbia to Austin, Texas.  Once collected, the cork is recycled into products including cork floor tiles and numerous industrial and consumer products.

Education

A primary mission of the organization is to educate the wine community, various manufacturers and consumers regarding the sustainability of cork.  The group frequently participates in outreach, sustainability seminars and conferences, and hospitality industry programs to correct some common misperceptions about the harvesting of cork. Cork is actually the bark of certain oak trees.  Patrick explains that, contrary to popular belief, the trees are not cut down in order to harvest the cork. It is harvested by hand by individual family farmers working the 6.6 million acres in the Mediterranean cork forest region. The bark re-grows and is harvested about every 9 years from trees that can live up to 300 years.

Stewardship

CFCA works with local governments and with other nonprofit organizations throughout the world to become a central hub for information, education and advocacy related the harvest of cork.

Environmental business development

To further the mission of the organization, CFCA actively works with companies looking to up-cycling spent wine cork. Using natural cork in other products diverts large quantities of waste from landfills and offers many businesses a more sustainable alternative in the production of goods and products. By working with business leaders in a variety of industries, the group is able to identify new opportunities to create all kinds of environmentally favorable applications – from flooring in schoolyard playgrounds to bobbers for fishing.

The “Real Cork Inside” programLook for the Acorn - Real Cork Inside logo

The “Real Cork Inside” ™ certification program was developed to help wineries let consumers know that they have committed to using natural cork in bottling their wines. Because most wineries put foil or plastic capsule over the top of the bottle, a consumer often can’t see if the bottle uses natural or synthetic cork. Now consumers can look for an acorn symbol on the bottle that indicates the winery is committed to using natural cork closures. This trademark logo is licensed by CFCA to certified wineries in the program and gives the consumer the power of choice.

 

Post Links:

Listen to the interviews with Patrick Spencer:  Episode 48 of The Wendel Forum (27:41 mins; mp3)

Cork Forest Conservation Alliance website: www.corkforest.org

Whole Foods Market cork program press release: http://wholefoodsmarket.com/pressroom/blog/2010/04/06/whole-foods-market%c2%ae-partners-with-cork-reharvest-to-recycle-wine-corks-help-save-mediterranean-cork-forests/

960 KNEW AM Radio website: http://www.960KNEW.com

Bill Acevedo’s online profile: http://www.wendel.com/wacevedo

Jose Corona of Inner City Advisors

Jose Corona of Inner City Advisors

In Episode 27 of The Wendel Forum(originally aired on Green 960 AM radio on August 13, 2011), Jose Corona, Cheif Executive Officer of Inner City Advisors (ICA), shares with show host Dick Lyons how the organization promotes the competitive advantages of locating a business in an inner city neighborhood.

Founded in 1996 in Oakland, the nonprofit group was born out of a Harvard Business School initiative.  Its mission is to help both companies and communities by promoting the advantages of locating in inner city neighborhoods and by providing companies with the advice and resources to grow their businesses.

Currently, they use a three-pronged approach:

1) They offer portfolio companies a network of experienced advisors that can provide both strategic and tactical, real-world advice to address the company’s business problems.

2) They provide an advanced entrepreneur program, modeled after a Stanford business course, to provide company leaders with the education they need.

3) They are developing a network of capital sources, including an ICA fund, to help portfolio companies grow when they’re ready.

Among their portfolio are several familiar names in the green community.  Who have they helped?  Well, here are a few names that you may recognize:

ICA is doing some great work.  And the proof is in the numbers.  Jose shares some inspiring statistics in his interview.  The companies in their portfolio are creating jobs and infusing wages and wealth into inner city neighborhoods. 

Let us know what other innovative business growth programs you see out there!

SHOW NOTE: Tune in to The Wendel Forum on Green 960 AM radio tomorrow, August 20, at 11:30 a.m. for an interview with health and natural product investment expert Thomas Simone.

Post Links:

Listen to interview with Jose Corona: Episode 27 of The Wendel Forum (mp3, 27.47 min.)

Inner City Advisors website: http://innercityadvisors.org/

ICA Case Study about Premier Organics: http://innercityadvisors.org/companies/portfolio/premier-organics/

Dick Lyons bio: www.wendel.com/rlyons

Green 960 AM radio website: www.green960.com

You’ve got to love a sustainable business whose slogan is “Change Starts With Your Underwear.” 

PACT is a Berkeley, California-based company that makes organic underwear with a social mission.  Listen to PACT co-founder and CEO Jason Kibbey in a discussion that traces this company’s path from a business school idea to a thriving company with a national distribution on the internet and in boutique retail outlets. 

In Episode 26 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on August 6, 2011, on Green 960 AM radio), Jason shares with show host Dick Lyons  how the company’s values for sustainability and social impact affect all aspects of the supply chain, including sourcing the organic cotton, product manufacturing, distribution and packaging. 

The company initially launched as an e-commerce product and is now found in about 50 stores, including boutiques and Nordstrom’s.  Not only do they make a sustainable product (even the shipping bags are 100% compostable), in addition their social impact mission includes incorporating business solutions such as working with a third-party logistics service that offers employment training and paid work opportunities to adults with developmental disabilities. 

Other discussion topics include the PACT model for impact giving, what the company did as a start up to tap into early funding sources, and the desire to add fun to environmental activism.

Want to know what the name PACT represents?  You’ll have to listen to the show to find out.

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Jason Kibbey:  Episode 26 of The Wendel Forum  (27 min 36 sec)

PACT company website: http://www.wearpact.com/

About show host Dick Lyons: www.wendel.com/rlyons

Green 960 AM radio website: www.green960.com

How many times have you gone into the grocery store and realized that you left your reusable bag in the trunk of your car?  Or maybe you take a walk and spontaneously decide to pop into the local market to pick up a couple of items.   

In Episode 19 of The Wendel Forum(originally aired on Green 960 AM radio on June 11, 2011), host Bill Acevedo interviews ChicoBag founder and president Andy Keller.  ChicoBag attempts to address the lifestyle issue of making reusable bags accessible when you need them.  The ChicoBag compacts down into a size so small that one (or more) can easily be carried in a pocket or purse. It can even be strapped to a belt loop.

Andy tells us the story of how he got the original inspiration for his company and the path he took to get started (including buying his first sewing machine).  Along the way, the company has made a number of product advancements as the technology for recycling has improved, including launching the new rePETe™ line of products made of 100% post consumer waste recycled plastic water bottles. 

As a mission-driven company, ChicoBag does more than sell bags.  They look for ways to help people reduce waste.  The Bag Monster is the fictional character they use to help people wake up to the huge amount of plastic bag (and other) waste we produce.  To promote education in this area, the company has launched a blog at http://www.bagmonster.com/.  People can go here to share ideas about how to reduce plastic bag use, track legislation related to the use of plastic bags throughout the country, and find numerous useful links to other organizations and information. 

Andy also posted information and photos from his recent trip to the South Pacific Gyre (where he witnessed first hand the effects of waste on our planet’s oceans in this floating Garbage Patch).

Check out the full interview by clicking on the Episode link in this post.  
 
Post Links:

Discussion with ChicoBag’s Founder Andy Keller: Listen to Episode 19 of The Wendel Forum (approx. 27 minutes)

ChicoBag’s website: www.chicobag.com

The Bag Monster blog: www.bagmonster.com

Green 960 AM Radio website: www.green960.com

About show host William Acevedo: www.wendel.com/wacevedo

 

We can bring our reusable tote bags to the grocery store and shop farmer’s markets for loose produce; but as consumers, we generally don’t have any control over how most of the products we purchase are packaged.  That’s left in the hands of the manufacturers.  From milk to electronics, the packaging options are largely out of our control.  Even so, some forward-th

Ecologic Brands New Laundry Bottle

Ecologic Brands New Laundry Bottle for Seventh Generation

inking and green-minded companies are beginning to address the problem of waste in this important part of the supply and distribution chain. 

Seventh Generation is a company that’s taking a leadership role on this issue with the release of a new cardboard laundry detergent bottle. We’d like to introduce you to Ecologic Brands, the company-behind-the-company that is allowing Seventh Generation to make this shift. 

Listen to show host Bill Acevedo discuss the issue of product packaging with Ecologic Brands Founder and CEO Julie Corbett in the download of Episode 17 of The Wendel Forum(originally aired on Green 960 AM radio on May 28, 2011). 

They discuss the challenges of packaging, including sourcing of raw materials and opportunities for recycling post consumer use.  The conversation turns to all aspects of packaging life cycle and who is really driving changes to this part of product manufacturing – consumers or companies?

Be sure to listen all the way to the end to hear about the contest that Ecologic Brands is currently running!

What are some of the best (or worst) examples of product packaging you’ve seen lately? 

 

 

Post Links:

Discussion with Ecological Brands CEO Julie Corbett: Episode 17 of The Wendel Forum(27.50 minutes)

Ecologic Brands website: www.ecologicbrands.com

Seventh Generation: http://www.seventhgeneration.com/4X-Laundry-Detergent

Green 960 AM radio website: www.green960.com

About show host William Acevedo: www.wendel.com/wacevedo

Bill Acevedo

Usually, the most revolutionary ideas are those that address the most “simple” problems.  One aspect of sustainability that is seriously overlooked, but often complained about, is packaging.  Boxes, bags, wrappers, bags in boxes – you name it.  Excessive packaging is everywhere from food to toys to everyday household goods.

Some companies, like Ecologic Brands, Clif Bar, and Walmart are changing the way the goods that we buy are packaged.  In 2006, Walmart introduced a packaging scorecard with the intention of improving packaging design, conserving resources, and reducing packaging along its global supply chain by 5% by 2013.  The results have been impressive with packaging design breakthroughs from many Walmart suppliers.

Clif Bar, for its part, recently introduced The Climber wine pouch.  Clif Bar boasts that it has an 80% lower carbon footprint than two glass bottles, it is 90% less waste than said bottles, and best of all  it reseals and keeps your wine fresh for up to one month after opening.  That is a breakthrough!

And, this week’s guest on The Wendel Forum radio show, Ecologic Brands (http://www.ecologicbrands.com/)  is re-thinking the way that common household supplies such as milk and laundry detergent are packaged.  Using recycled and recyclable (i.e., you can recycle it again) cardboard, Ecologic Brands is swapping out the plastic that clogs landfills and our oceans.  The bottle is composed of an outer cardboard paper shell and a recyclable plastic liner.  The liners are made of 70% less plastic than your average jug.  If you have kids, or if you play as a hard as you work, you know how much of an environmental benefit it is to have laundry detergent bottles like these.

But don’t take my word for it.  Tune your radio (or computer) to Green 960 AM at 11:30 this Saturday morning to hear Ecologic Brand’s CEO, Julie Corbett, tell you all about her revolutionary idea to address the way we package everyday household goods.

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