The business world is driven by competition: to produce more for less, to sell more than your competitors, to make more money, to sell to more countries, and then there is a slightly different type of competition – to come up with the best idea or design a new way of doing something.
Earlier this year, William McDonough and Michael Braungart, sustainability product design consultants, published a book with an interesting challenge to the future of industry. Titled “The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability – Designing for Abundance”, the focus of the book is a discussion of how businesses might become part of a regeneration cycle in which there is no waste or cost for ecological measures.
This book builds on their book “Cradle to Cradle: remaking the way we make things” published in 2002, calling for industry to completely let go of the production of non-recyclable productions in favor of ones that are completely non-polluting. The authors are not just idea men, they both have been working on making their ideas realities, one idea at a time.
Businesses need to find ways to eliminate dependence on non-renewable products or byproducts containing pollutants that increase costs through special handling and disposal requirements. Eco-consultants can be part of the solution to help companies think about how they manufacturer, package and dispose of product.
More than 25 million tons of plastic packaging is sold in the US every year, less than five percent gets recycled. Although plastic packaging is not always recyclable it is lightweight and thus, reduces transportation emissions when product is distributed. Changes are slowly being made in the plastics industry to help reduce waste, improve recycled content and use of materials.
According to one article, Innovations in Plastic Packaging Help Lighten Environmental Footprint the changes will result in:“lighter packaging, less fuel to transport products, reduced use of natural resources, fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and less waste.”
A company called SmartCycle processes recycled content from beverage bottles to make packaging for food, box or thermoformed applications. Through creating a use for recycled bottles, the company is able to support recycling efforts while utilizing energy-saving manufacturing process.
Of course, reducing plastic materials altogether in packaging is ideal but not necessarily feasible for some manufacturers. If plastics packaging must be used it is important to choose plastics that can easily be recycled, such as resin numbers 1, 2 and 5. Or utilize plastic packaging that uses recycled-content. And finally, consider reducing the amount of plastic content used in the packaging as the bottled water industry started to do back in 2011.
For more information about sustainable packaging and other eco-friendly trends for your business please contact us.
In today’s sustainability world, one of the biggest barriers for most individuals is to understand all the phrases and terminology associated with sustainability. Phrases like Farm to Table, Natural Capitalism, Pasture Raised, Food Miles, Food Security and Biomimicry can be confusing to consumers, workers and employees on what they mean and how they apply.
There are two projects that are helping in this sustainability terminology confusion. The Lexicon of Sustainability is a project by Douglas Gayeton who has done photographs and images to represent these sustainability words. They have a program whereas you can display these photos in your local community or office building for a period of time, to help educate staff.
The International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP) also has a lexicon project in progress. This project brings together a diverse group of sustainability professionals to build a common consensus and definition on the terminology used by sustainability professionals.
The following is a list of resources that provide a glossary of sustainability terminology;
Watch About The Lexicon of Sustainability
PBS Series The Lexicon of Sustainability
Douglas & Laura Gayeton: Lexicon of Sustainability
You can also offer training to your staff or community on sustainability that helps educate them on the terminology, frameworks and theories of sustainability. Contact us for more information.
Doug McKenzie-Mohr, author of Fostering Sustainable Behavior and environmental psychologist has a great website to look up articles and cases studies that relate to fostering sustainable behavior. His focus is more on communities and public at large social marketing techniques but the resources and information can be applied to business too. He has five main topic areas of agriculture and conservation, energy, transportation, waste and pollution and water. Anyone can sign up for an account, just click on Account to sign up and you can access the discussion forums.
His book, Fostering Sustainable Behavior, is also available online to read. It is a comprehensive book on how to identify the behaviors a community wants to change and build a strategy around changing those behaviors.
Tools of Change is another site that offers community-based social marketing resources. This site also has case studies as well as planning guides to help communities begin planning environmental strategies. Their topics include environmental, health and nutrition and safety.