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 90 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on February 9, 2013, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Bill Acevedo, chair of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Nikhil Arora, co-founder of Back to the Roots, producer of gourmet mushroom growing kits nourished with recycled Peet’s Coffee grounds.

 

Back to the Roots co-founders Alex and NikBack to the Roots co-founders Alex and Nik

Back to the Roots co-founders Alejandro Velez & Nikhil Arora

Arora and his co-founder were about to graduate from UC Berkeley in 2009 when they learned during a class lecture that it’s possible to grow gourmet mushrooms in used coffee grounds. Inspired by the notion of turning waste into fresh, local food, they founded Back to the Roots. Since then, connecting families to food has become Arora’s “true passion,” and the company’s slickly designed, easy-to-use urban mushroom farm kits produce a gourmet crop of oyster mushrooms in about 10 days. Back to the Roots now also sells a three-gallon aquaponics garden, perfect for growing an herb garden on a kitchen counter or in a classroom.

Last year, President Obama invited Arora and his co-founder to the White House to discuss how the administration could support small businesses.  Arora says it was “cool to be representing Oakland,” which he describes as the epicenter of the start-up food culture.  In addition to a loan from the city, Back to the Roots received redevelopment funding to move its warehouse to Oakland.  The company also received a $25,000 loan from Whole Foods (which is fitting because produce guys from the Berkeley store were early advisors) and raised nearly $250,000 via Kick Starter.

With a core commitment to sustainability, Back to the Roots is a certified B Corporation.  Today, they’re working to build a global, “hip and fun” lifestyle brand that connects people to food.

Are you interested in growing your own food?

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Arora:Episode 90 of The Wendel Forum(27:37 mins; mp3)

Back to the Roots Website: http://www.backtotheroots.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

In Episode 43 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on December 3, 2011 on Green 960 AM radio), show host Bill Acevedo talks fiber with Lewis Fix of Domtar Paper.  That’s tree fiber, not cereal.

The company, which was actually founded in 1848 in England, is one of the leaders in sustainability in the paper industry. In 2002, Domtar became the first North American paper company to achieve Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification from the forest to the marketplace. 

According to Lewis, Domtar sees itself as more than just a paper company.  They are in the business of moving fiber.  What does that mean?  Usually when you think of paper products, you think of copy paper, annual reports and marketing brochures.  But their products are much more diverse than that.  They are used in such diverse places as sticks for lollipops and medical products. And like many companies looking to be more efficient with their production while creating less waste, Domtar is exploring ways to use the papermaking byproduct lignin as a bio-fuel.

In addition, the company values being a good corporate citizen regarding its environmental impact and its impact in the communities in which it operates.  With 13 pulp and paper facilities throughout North America, the company recognizes the importance of being engaged locally.

Lewis discusses the responsibility that Domtar embraces to have an open dialogue regarding how they are managing forests, watersheds, and other resources.  They hold themselves to a high standard of transparency (third party and multi-stakeholder).  Lewis and Bill discuss the debate regarding whether it’s better to use virgin or recycled paper, as well as a few of Domtar’s partnerships with organizations such as the Rainforest Alliance and World Wildlife Fund.

They also have some exciting new initiatives to promote, including The Paper Trail, a web transparency tool inspired by Patagonia’s Footprint Chronicles to help track the chain of custody in the supply chain all the way to store shelves.

From a Domtar press release:

The Paper Trail (http://www.domtarpapertrail.com) develops personalized reports that measure Domtar products across five categories: water usage, the distance fiber travels to a paper mill, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, waste sent to landfills and renewable energy usage. The data is displayed in real-world equivalents, with comparisons to issues such as the amount of water the average household uses or the amount of waste it generates. The Paper Trail will also illustrate how Domtar compares to the rest of the industry in these particular categories.

We think you might think differently about fiber after listening to this interview.

Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Lewis Fix: Episode 43 of The Wendel Forum (mp3)

Domtar Paper website: http://www.domtar.com

Forest Stewardship Council website:  http://www.fsc.org/

The Paper Trail: http://www.domtarpapertrail.com

Green 960 AM Radio website: http://www.green960.com

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

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

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.

Discarded clothing makes up a huge part of the solid waste stream. In Episode 10 of The Wendel Forum (first aired on April 9, 2011, on Green 960 AM radio), our host Bill Acevedo interviews two up-and-coming companies with completely different approaches to limiting the amount of waste that piles up in our landfills.  In the first segment, James Reinhart, the co-founder of thredUP (www.thredup.com) discusses the company, which is an online peer-to-peer exchange for children’s clothing. James explains the business model behind this swap-enabling website that saves families money and makes it easy to keep outgrown clothing from ending up as landfill. 

Picture of Platinum Dirt and Thred Up in studio for The Wendel Forum radio show.

Left to Right: Dustin Page (Platinum Dirt designer), James Reinhart (thredUP co-founder) and Aaron Parrish (Platinum Dirt CEO) in studio for The Wendel Forum radio show.

In the second segment, Dustin Page and Aaron Parrish of Platinum Dirt (www.platinumdirt.com) discuss sustainability and the high fashion world of recycled leather apparel.  Not only does the company create jackets, purses and other products that are works of art, they do so by reusing leather stripped from vintage cars otherwise destined for landfills.

What other companies have found new business models for clothing products that lighten the load on our waste stream?

Post links:

Download Episode: Episode 10 of The Wendel Forum(26 min)

thredUP: www.thredup.com

Platinum Dirt: www.platinumdirt.com

Each Spring and Fall I find myself going through the closets and dressers to collect donations to cart off to Goodwill.  With two little but ever growing children, this is less about being charitable than it is about a rite of necessity.  I have to get rid of old stuff so that I can replace it new stuff.  The Goodwill model, accepting my old stuff to give it to people as their new stuff, seems to fit the bill.  Well, almost.

You see, I don’t replace the children’s clothes with clothes from Goodwill.  I go out and buy brand new clothing to take the place of their outgrown garments.  Yes, I share these purchases with others later on, but for the most part, I keep consuming.  There has to be a different approach, don’t you think?

On this week’s show, we’ll talk to two emerging companies that are answering this question. 

ThredUp (www.thredup.com) is an online exchange for used children’s clothing and toys.  ThredUp’s CEO, James Reinhart, sits down and tells us how his idea, which he likens to a Netflix for kids’ clothes – is taking off.  According to Reinhart, ThredUp is signing 1,000 mothers – PER DAY – as clothes-swapping members.

As for you adults, have no fear, there is something for you, too.  Platinum Dirt (www.platinumdirt.com), which is headed by Dustin Page and Aaron Parrish, will also join the Forum discussion.  They will tell you about their ingenius idea to recycle leather seating from Cadillacs, Lincolns, BMWs, Mercedes, and other cars left to rot in the junkyard.  They take this leather and turn them into beautifully designed leather jackets, wallets, and purses.

It will be an exciting discussion – recycling, fashion, and environmental and business benefits.  Tune in to Green 960 AM to learn how emerging clothing industry entreprenuers are moving beyond the Goodwill approach to recycle clothing and repurpose materials to create new fashions.

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