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.

The Wendel Forum LogoShow me the money!  Growing businesses need the help of sound business advisors, whether looking for capital or positioning for mergers or acquisitions. Many company leaders at young businesses in the sustainable marketplace are great entrepreneurs despite never having had formal business training. As their ideas take off, they need investors to scale their operations and guidance to make their company attractive in the right financial markets.  Add to that a desire to maintain their sustainable values and it can be hard to know who to trust.

Enter Chuck Slotkin, Founder and Managing Director of Nature’s Equity, a boutique investment firm operating in the sustainable business space for the past 20 years. Chuck joins show host Dick Lyons for a discussion of green business financing from the investment banker’s perspective on Episode 15 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on May  14, 2011 on Green 960 AM radio).

The two discuss the movement of specialty natural food and supplement products into the mainstream during the past couple of decades and what that means for companies looking to grow their operations.  Chuck addresses the importance of seeking investment teams and advisors who understand the natural product market, as well as the underlying value of products that tend to have very little strong science behind them.  They talk about issues unique to sustainable companies, such as maintaining the integrity of a supply chain post sale and taking companies through the investment process in a way that reflects their values.
Post Links:

Listen to the interview with Chuck Slotkin: Episode 15 of The Wendel Forum

Nature’s Equity: http://naturesequity.com/

Show host Dick Lyons: www.wendel.com/rlyons

Green 960 AM radio: www.green960.com

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

In Episode 3 of The Wendel Forum on Green 960 AM, which originally aired on Saturday, February 19, Dick Lyons contemplates how green initiatives at Walmart can serve as a model for businesses large and small. What lessons can smaller businesses learn by looking at the initiatives of the first major U.S. retailer to actively and purposefully address environmental impacts in its supply chain?  Can Walmart’s initiatives with its massive supply chain be scaled down to “green” your own more limited supply chain?

At Wendel Rosen, a part of our journey to become a green law firm meant that we pushed on our own suppliers to carry more environmentally-friendly products and at more favorable prices (something that became easier over the years as more customers desired these types of products and more suppliers entered the marketplace — supply and demand). We also spent a lot of time educating partners, including our office building landlord, to help them understand our goals and to encourage them to implement changes in energy use, facilities maintenance, and waste stream management that would benefit the landlord, as well as the firm. By taking the time to form these partnerships, the impact of our decision to run a more environmentally friendly practice has had a ripple effect beyond our business. Now many of our suppliers, service providers, clients and even competitors have taken steps toward sustainability that might not have happened without the firm’s leadership. We have been one of many businesses moving in this direction, but we’ve seen with our own eyes how  the efforts of a single firm can create a ripple effect in a local economy.  The take away is that you may not be Walmart, but don’t underestimate what you can do with your own network of business relationships.

What advice or best practices would you share with a business looking to make its supply chain more environmentally sustainable?