Say it ain’t so. If environmentalism were religion, this marketing campaign from my beloved Barnes & Noble would be a blasphemy. Take a look at this pic:
Yes, you saw it correctly the first time. Did shock and disbelief make you look again? That’s what happened to me when I saw the sign “Celebrate Earth Day…All Products Made from Eco-Friendly Materials” perched above a table of plastic shrink-wrapped notebooks made of recycled paper.
Twenty lashes with a wet noodle. This one goes down as one of the worst examples of corporate greenwashing I’ve seen. Sorry to single you out, Barnes & Noble, but please, drop this campaign!
Here’s a free green marketing tip, B&N. Ditch these signs (please recycle them!). How about some free author readings of the “green books” you had on display next to your plastic shrink-wrapped notebooks? Share some ideas from great green authors about how to go green. Now that would be a terrific way for B&N to celebrate Earth Day! Don’t like that idea? How about doing a better job of promoting your used books on Barnes & Noble.com? You know, reduce, re-use, recycle…
Have you seen other pathetic corporate attempts to celebrate Earth Day? Leave a comment and share!
Copyright 2008 OrganicManiaFiled under Greenwashing, Holidays, Marketing | Wordpress Comments (6) |
Part 1 of the OrganicMania Interview with Seth Goldman is here.
OrganicMania: Honest Tea’s kids’ tea, Honest Kids, is sold in plastic pouches that aren’t recyclable. I know you have information on the wrapper about your relationship with Terracycle, but it’s a bit hard to follow…you have to go to the website to get more information, for example. Not many tired Mothers have the presence of mind to do that before disposing of the packaging.
Seth Goldman: Actually, that plastic pouch is the most environmentally efficient packaging we have. By weight, the pouch is 97% product, and only 3% packaging so there’s very little waste. We’re not using fuel just to ship packaging.
Since we launched that line last year, several thousand pouches have been collected and turned into bags through our relationship with Terracycle. We are reaching 1,000 collection sites around the country, in places like schools, youth centers, and other places where kids gather.
(Ed Note: You can learn more about this re-use program here.)
Still, it’s a challenge. We live in a consumer society. The definition of a consumer is to destroy, and the definition of sustainability is the exact opposite. How do you live a sustainable life in a consumer society? You’re setting yourself up for a contradiction.
I just participated in a class discussion at the Yale School of Management, and I talked with the students about environmental impacts of business. What we can try to do is to take our environmental practices and our consciousness about our packaging and try to move things in a different direction.
OrganicMania: Still, when we were kids, we just didn’t use this much plastic. I remember paper straws, for example. Couldn’t you use a paper straw with the drink pouch instead of plastic?
Seth Goldman: Well, you need some sharpness to punch in the drink pouch and insert the straw. You couldn’t do that with paper.
OrganicMania: I see there are a lot of issues to consider when looking at which materials to use…it’s especially interesting to hear about the trade-offs between plastic and glass. I think most people are unaware of these trade-offs and just tend to think that plastic is bad and glass is good because of recycling. But as you’ve shown, you can save fuel and cut carbon emissions through plastic use and then encourage re-use of plastic through programs like the one Honest Kids has underway with Terracycle.
Speaking of kids, recently I blogged about what I call “Organic Kid Marketing” – organics companies that are using cartoon characters on packaging to market their products directly to kids. It’s notable that you chose not to do that with Honest Kids. In fact, there are pictures of fresh fruit on the Honest Tea boxes and drink pouches, yet it’s obvious it’s a kid’s drink because of the iconic plastic pouch shape that speaks to kids. Did you have heated internal discussions about whether or not to engage more directly in “Organic Kid Marketing?” And do you know the ages of typical Honest Kids consumers?
Seth Goldman: It was a deliberate decision not to do something like putting “Elmo” on the package, because we didn’t want to limit the age of the people who would be interested in drinking Honest Kids. In fact, I know a lot of adults who drink it. People write in and tell us, “I drink it in my office,” so it’s obvious it’s not kids who are doing that! We really don’t know the exact age range of most of the Honest Kids drinkers…our information right now is mainly anecdotal. Kids do like to be seen with it. We know we’re not losing opportunities with it because there’s not a character used to market it. In fact, use of a character probably would have limited the market for Honest Kids. I know there are kids in middle school drinking Honest Kids. You wouldn’t catch a sixth grader with a Power Rangers juice box! So while we don’t know the exact age, I think age 2 to 12 is probably the right way to think about it.
And that’s another positive part of our deal with Coca Cola. We’ll get a lot more distribution of Honest Kids, including, hopefully, at places like McDonalds.
OrganicMania: Obviously, your professional life is all about organics. What about your personal life? You have kids, too. How do they deal with all the focus on organics?
Seth Goldman: We’re vegetarian, we eat mainly organic, we have a composter in the back, we drive a hybrid, I ride my bike a lot…but that said we’re living in a consumer society so we deal with the same contradictions everyone faces. My kids are sometimes teased about it, but in a fun way.
OrganicMania: You’ve used your blog, Seth and Barry’s Blog, to address customer concerns about Coke’s investment in Honest Tea. When you’re not doing your own blogging, which blogs do you enjoy reading?
Seth Goldman: I like reading Emily Bazelon on Slate, I like reading some of the blogs on Inc.com and Stonyfield Farm’s blog.
OrganicMania: Thanks so much for your time, Seth! This has been a really interesting discussion – I think people will enjoy it.
Copyright 2008 OrganicManiaFiled under Interviews, Marketing, Organic Mommypreneurs, Sustainable Packaging | Wordpress Comments (6) |
Big news hit the organics world in early February, when Coca-Cola took a 40% stake in Honest Tea, the nation’s best selling and fastest growing organic tea company. Seth Goldman, Honest Tea’s co-founder and “Tea-EO” sat down with OrganicMania in March at Honest Tea’s light filled, eco-friendly headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland for this interview touching on sustainable packaging and the organics movement.
Note: With my background in corporate marketing, I’m accustomed to seeing CEOs flanked by their PR people. Given Coke’s considerable stake in the company, I half-expected a visitor from Atlanta to join us. But it was just Seth and yours truly for 45 minutes. Here’s what was discussed:
OrganicMania: What sparked your interest in organics and sustainability?
Seth Goldman: I’ve always had environmental awareness. I’ve always spent a lot of time outdoors. I worked at Calvert Group where they had environmental screens. I was leader of a campus group for students for responsible business, now called NetImpact, although I was more focused on economic opportunity than environmental issues.
After starting Honest Tea, it was only natural to get more focused on and more concerned about the environment and agricultural practices. One of the things I learned is that tea is one of the few products that is never rinsed. If you have a tomato or an apple, you can easily rinse it before eating it. But if chemicals are sprayed on tea leaves, the chemicals stay on the tea leaves until hot water is poured in the teacup. In countries like China and India, there is a lot less oversight. Unless there’s an organics inspector, it’s safe to assume atrazine is used, which is the herbicide believed to be responsible for dual sex frogs. There are concerns about safety and the affects on people. So it was in the process of learning about tea for Honest Tea, that I learned about organics. We looked at every responsible option available to us. And the beginning was the use of organic sweeteners.
OrganicMania: What about packaging? One of the main issues that bothers green consumers, like those who come to OrganicMania, is that even if you take the time, energy and money to seek out an organic or green product as an alternative to a traditional product, odds are the organic or “green” product will still be packaged in plastic or some other environmentally-unfriendly packaging. How long will it be until we have biodegradable packaging for organics and green products? What kinds of strides are being made in that area?
Seth Goldman: It’s an evolution. There are no simple answers, although technology is advancing, and that will help. One example of this is corn resin, which can be made into biodegradable plastic for some products. But that won’t work with Honest Tea, because we heat up to 180 to 190 degrees and biodegradable plastic couldn’t withstand that kind of heat. Some biodegradable plastic will work with commercial composting, but not with home composting, and commercial composting is not yet widely available. You can’t put biodegradable plastic in a recycling bin because the plastic is not a PET, and so that bottle contaminates the waste stream.
There are some interesting ideas being proposed, for example, to increase the use of recycled content. Coca-Cola is doing a lot of this, and through Coca-Cola, we’ll now be able to increase our recycled content. Can we get to over 20 percent recycled content in our bottles? I would love to see us go further in that direction. On our own, Honest Tea doesn’t command enough attention from suppliers to make them supply us with recycled content in our bottles, but when we are associated with the world’s largest beverage company, we have a better chance to get their attention.
There are other advances in packaging that are exciting. For example, looking at second uses for products. What about peeling off the skin on a product? So that even if the outer skin couldn’t be recycled, the inner skin could be recycled. These are just ideas, but again, this is part of the reason I’m excited about our deal with Coca-Cola. The Coca- Cola R&D centers are doing a lot of interesting research in these areas.
Visit OrganicMania.com tomorrow for Part 2 of this interview with Honest Tea co-founder and “Tea-EO,” Seth Goldman, where he’ll continue the discussion about plastic packaging, sustainability, and Honest Tea’s deal with Coke.
What do you think about Seth’s viewpoints? Leave a comment and share!
Copyright 2008 OrganicManiaFiled under Interviews, Marketing, Organics, Organics vs. Conventional Foods, Sustainable Packaging | Wordpress Comments (3) |
So long, Tony the Tiger. Hello, Peter the Probug.
I’ve posted here about how my son recognizes “Kid Marketing” at the grocery store as the hydrogenated oil and sugar-laden processed treats that are major no-nos.
Suddenly, it’s getting a lot harder to say “no” to “Kid Marketing,” because my son also recognizes the USDA Organic Seal. Now he says sweetly, “But Mama, it’s organic! It must be good for you even if it is Kid Marketing.”
And most times, he’s right…the “Organic Kid Marketing” products may still be good for him, but they often cost several times the price of conventional organics, which are already expensive enough!
I imagine that if my kid wouldn’t eat anything healthy at all, I might welcome the overtures of the organic kid marketers. But since he was doing fine with regular old organics, the organic kid marketing hype is an annoyance.
Is anyone else sharing my feelings of resentment at the onslaught of Kid Marketing at the organic grocers? It used to be that organic shops were a refuge from Tony the Tiger, Lucky the Lucky Charms Leprechaun and all the other Kid Marketing icons. I could take my son with me to the organic market, buy a carton of yogurt, some bulk oatmeal, and be done with the shopping with a minimum of fuss and whining.
But I knew I was in for it last week when my son breathlessly told me after school one day, “Katie has the coolest yogurt at lunch. I want some! It’s orange and it’s ORGANIC!”
At the organic market that afternoon, he pointed at a garish orange four-pack of Lifeway Organic Probiotic Whole Milk Kefir Cultured Milk Smoothies. That particular day, I was too tired to say no …it was after all organic and it was just yogurt.
But later I realized that I already have several large containers of biodynamic yogurt in the fridge, courtesy of our CSA. And he liked that yogurt just fine. So why was he so insistent on this yogurt?
“Well, it tastes good,” he responded.
I reminded him that we had plenty of yogurt in the fridge that tastes good.
“It’s ORANGE. My favorite color,” he announced.
“And?” I prodded.
“And it has an alien on it too!”
So I’m buying more yogurt with more packaging because my son wants orange packages with aliens? (Actually, it’s Peter the probiotic bug, according to the packaging).
Look, this story is a bit embarrassing to tell, but I know I’m not alone here…am I? Tell me, what’s been your experience with “Organic Kid Marketing.” Are you starting to feel the onslaught too?
Or is it just the products that has me down? Perhaps. Why don’t the frozen vegetables come with aliens on their bags? Works for me!
Copyright OrganicMania 2008Filed under Food, Marketing, Organic Product Needs, Organics | Wordpress Comments (6) |
Thought you might be interested in this Washington Post article about how parents are shelling out big bucks for natural and organic baby products in an attempt to buy peace of mind given the safety concerns surrounding so many baby products. The article includes lots of interesting research and a quote from yours truly!
— LynnFiled under Baby, Blog, Marketing, Organic Prices, Parenting, Pregnancy | Wordpress Comments (5) |
There was a time when the Greens conjured up images of anything but fashion. The original “Greens” were a political movement that rejected fashion and other bourgeois values. But today’s “Greens,” at least in the US, are primarily female and, as the New York Times pointed out, increasingly bourgeois. So of course they’re interested in fashion. Perhaps that’s why twice in the past few hours I’ve stumbled upon green fashion launches – Organic Style, a new online “green style” magazine, and today’s launch of Mimi and Motherhood Maternity’s new lines of organic cotton clothing and “eco-accessories.”
Organic Style is a brand extension of Organic Bouquet, and an adaptation of a print magazine published for several years by the venerable Rodale Press, the leading health and wellness publishing firm. Organic Style is quite highbrow, promoting items such as cruelty-free footware “custom made to your specifications” for $450 to $800 per pair, luxurious eco-friendly resorts with suites costing $1500 per night, and “the world’s tallest roses,” starting at $249.95. It’s like Town&Country for the eco-set.
At the other end of the spectrum is Motherhood Maternity, offering organic cotton maternity tops for just $17. The selection is quite small, with just fifteen items encompassing organic t-shirts, Burt’s Bees potions, and organic pregnancy and baby books. Mimi’s selection is more upscale than Motherhood’s, so you’ll pay a higher price for an organic cotton top – about $30 more than at Motherhood.
What I really want to know is – where can I find regular (non-maternity) stylish organic cotton tops for around $17?
Copyright OrganicMania 2008Filed under Baby, Eco-friendly gifts, Marketing, Organic Clothing, Organic Personal Care Products, Organic Prices, Pregnancy, Where to Buy Organics | Wordpress Comment (1) |
Monday’s post about Clorox’s new green cleaning line posed a question about the lack of large refill containers for Green Works products. Refill containers are important because they minimize the use of smaller, nozzled plastic containers, reduce waste, and simply because they’re something green consumers expect from a green product line. They’re a key component of source reduction, which decreases the amount of materials used during the manufacturing and distribution of products.
Since I didn’t see refill containers in the store, nor on the Green Works website, nor mentioned in their press release, nor for that matter mentioned anywhere in the blogosphere, OrganicMania contacted both Clorox and their PR firm to find out about their plans for refill containers.
A representative from Ketchum, Green Works PR firm, left a voicemail for OrganicMania saying that GreenWorks is “exploring this option” and noted that “that’s all the information that’s available right now.”
Hmm…I scratched my head. How can you launch a green product line and not include refills? It seems so basic. Especially when a quick trip to my local grocery store proved that other Clorox products, such as their clean-up cleaner with bleach, come in 64 ounce refill containers.
Before posting this update, I decided to do one more comprehensive web search to see if anyone else was addressing the refill issue. You’ll never guess what I found….on restockit.com, an ad for a 64 ounce refill container of Green Works glass window cleaner.Filed under Green Cleaning Products, Marketing, Uncategorized | Wordpress Comments (2) |
I hate to clean. Really, really hate it. That’s the reason you haven’t read about green cleaning products on OrganicMania™. After all, it’s so much more fun to try organic foods than to try organic cleaning products!
But the fact is, toxins in the home – many from chemical-laden cleaning products – are one of the greatest dangers to health. When considering which organic and green products to buy, cleaning products should rank near the top of your list, along with “the dirty dozen” fruits and veggies. Yet deciding which green cleaning products to purchase is a tricky and expensive process of trial and error. Like many Moms, I have a shelf full of barely used green products that simply didn’t do the job as well as the tried and true standards we all grew up with – Ajax, Clorox, Mr. Clean, and Spic n’ Span.
Now, improvements are coming with the introduction of green product lines like Clorox’s Green Works. Green Works products include all purpose cleaner, bathroom cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, dilutable cleaner, and glass and surface cleaner. When I spied some prominently displayed at my local Giant for just $2.99 per 24 oz. bottle, I decided to try the natural bathroom cleaner. After all, I’ve spent more than twice that much on natural cleaners from companies that specialize in green products but are hardly household cleanliness icons, like the Clorox Company.
Here’s what I noticed when I put Green Works to the test on my dirty bathroom sinks:
• Easy-to-pump trigger – it felt like a “real” cleaning product with foam and spray options;
• Mild, clean scent; and
• Fast working effectiveness.
Incredibly easy to use, all I needed to do was swish some wet towels around the sink and the caked on soap scum and dreck came up really quickly. The entire cleaning process took only seconds, with just a wipe, rather than a true hard scrub.
Some skeptics may question whether Clorox can be trusted to introduce a truly natural product. While there’s no true standard for “natural” products, the Clorox Company states, “We set ourselves a very stringent standard. The ingredients must come from renewable resources, be biodegradable and free of petrochemicals. Green Works™ cleaners are at least 99% natural. In certain cases we had to use synthetic ingredients, like the preservative and green colorant.” The package ingredients are clearly listed. For example, the natural bathroom cleaner contains coconut-based cleaning agent (nonionic surfactant), glycolic acid, essential lemon oil and filtered water. The label also points out that it contains no bleach and no phosphorus.
My only complaint? I didn’t see any large refill containers. I hope Clorox is not expecting green consumers to repurchase these relatively small 24 ounce containers. Sure, there’s a bold printed request to please recycle the packaging, but I didn’t see any large refill containers in the store, nor pictured on their website or mentioned in their press release. These would be an obvious addition for such a complete product line, so lets hope the large refill containers appear in grocery store aisles soon.Filed under Green Cleaning Products, Marketing, Organic Prices, Product Recommendations, Where to Buy Organics | Wordpress Comments (2) |
It seems that every day, there are new organic and eco-friendly products available. Yet still, there are missing items for Moms yearning to switch over to as many eco-friendly, organic products as possible. Perhaps this is because marketers are unaware of what Moms really need. Do they need a list? Here’s a start….
1. Organic Halloween Candy;
2. Organic, Eco-Friendly Toddler Wipes, a la Kandoo;
3. Organic Lice Treatments (ick);
4. Eco-friendly, “cool” lunch boxes for the age 8 and under set;
5. Eco-friendly, recyclable packaging for all organic and eco-friendly items;
6. Fun organic and eco-friendly toys for elementary school age kids;
7. Affordable organic cotton clothing;
8.Affordable, easy-to-use organic or eco-friendly diapering systems;
9.Affordable, truly organic cosmetics that really work;
10. Organic spas and beauty salons that are truly organic and eco-friendly.
What do you need? Please leave a comment and share!
Copyright Organicmania 2007Filed under Marketing, Organic Prices, Organic Product Needs, Parenting | Wordpress Comments (6) |
If you’ve only just heard of the Green Halloween movement, don’t feel like you’re out of touch. It just launched this year, and its goal, as you might guess, is to make Halloween healthier for kids and the environment. Who can argue with that? This year I’ve been especially struck by the encroachment of still more Cheap Plastic Crap into Halloween parties, costumes, and decorations. Back in “the olden days” when I was a kid, we bobbed for apples and made our own costumes!
Whole Foods is a platinum sponsor of Green Halloween. So I headed over to Whole Foods expecting to see a wide range of environmentally correct Halloween items. Perhaps something from their well priced 365 Everyday Value line. Instead, I found a bunch of Very Expensive organic chocolates. Perfect for an adult Halloween party, but way out of line for trick-or-treating. The only thing I could find that was relatively affordable was a large sack of individually wrapped pretzel bags.
I looked online at fair trade chocolates and found some delicious looking options, but at $12 a bag they were simply too expensive. In my neighborhood, we can expect to run through six bags of candy on Halloween. That would be more than $80 with shipping! What’s more, the chocolates needed to be ordered really early – by October 17th! That would never do. And online shopping made no sense when I realized that my five-year-old was very excited about the prospect of buying the candy we would be giving out to trick-or-treaters.
So back to the bricks-and-mortar retailers. The shelves at Safeway and Giant were full of same-old, same-old bags of traditional chocolate treats. On a whim, I headed over to CVS. There, alone on a shelf I spied a Hershey’s Organic Chocolate bar. It was far too large for trick or treating, but it did give me hope. It gave me hope because only a company as large as Hershey has the capacity to bring organic chocolates to the trick or treating masses at a reasonable price point. In the course of researching this post, I learned that earlier this month, Hershey acquired organic candy purveyor Dagoba Chocolates, a sure sign that Hershey is taking the organic market seriously.
Wouldn’t it be great if by next Halloween we could give out organic Hershey’s Kisses, priced at a reasonable level? As for this year, I must confess that this OrganicManiac couldn’t justify the price of organic candy. Perhaps I didn’t look early enough or hard enough, but frankly, reasonably priced bags of organic Halloween candy shouldn’t be so hard to find.
So what are we giving out this year? The old traditional favorites: Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, Kit Kats, Milky Ways, and Krackle. Three big bags for $5 at Target. My kindergartner was thrilled to pick the candies out himself.
Next year I hope I can point him to a reasonably priced selection of organic Halloween candy, available at a local store.
In the meantime, Happy Halloween.
Copyright 2007, OrganicmaniaFiled under Cheap Plastic Crap, Food, Holidays, Marketing, Organic Prices, Organics, Parenting | Wordpress Comments (2) |