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Posts published in “Lifestyle and Design”

Whole Foods Launches Green Path Wine in Tetra Pak Packaging

Whole Foods is launching a new organic wine called Green Path.  Green Path wine will be sold exclusively at Whole Foods stores nationwide starting this month.

The Australian Chardonnay and Shiraz are organic wines made by Organic One Wines, one of Australia’s oldest and largest vineyards.  The wines come from the Billabong Vineyard in Jerilderie, New South Wales, Australia and will sell for approximately $12 US.

The packaging choice on this wine is interesting.  The wine will be sold solely in Tetra Pak one liter cartons.  Tetra Pak is a paper-based carton marketed as an environmentally-friendly alternative to plastic or glass bottles.

Sustainable is Good reported earlier this year on Aqua 2 Go using Tetra Pak packaging for its water – the story produced a large amount of discussion on the Tetra Pak packaging and its environmentally friendly claims.

There is concern that Tetra Pak packaging is complex and difficult to break down and recycle effectively.  The company who produces Tetra Pak claims their product is of tremendous benefit to the green community and a viable alternative to plastics and glass.

According to a recent statement, the Country Vitner (Australian Wine Exporter) and Whole Foods believe the packaging for their wine is ideal as it provides customers who want to “enjoy a quality wine in a portable, recloseable, safe and easy-to-use package.”

They also point out the fact the Tetra Pak is made from a renewal resource (paper) and is lighter in weight than traditional glass bottles, requiring less trucks for transportation, in turn reducing total greenhouse gas emissions.

Target Mirel Bioplastic Gift Card Pictures

UPDATED 12/4 – See our latest story on Mirel and Target – all 1600 stores will carry the gift cards for the holiday season – Read full story.

Back in August Sustainable is Good reported on new gift cards Target was selling made from a biodegradable plastic called Mirel.  At the time we ran the original story, shortly after the cards were announced, we didn’t have any photos of the actual cards.

Sustainable is Good has obtained photos of the new gift cards as well as a photo of one of the cards after 40 days in compost.  The gift cards are only available at a small number of Target stores nationwide (129 stores).  Readers have told us the cards are sold in specially designed display cases usually located near the front of the store. The cards say the following on the back, “This GiftCard is made from naturally renewable corn-based material that is biodegradable in your backyard compost

The cards are made from Mirel, a new family of biobased plastics made from corn that provides an alternative to traditional, petroleum-based plastics. Unlike conventional plastics, Mirel biodegrades in a variety of environments including soil, home compost, wetlands, rivers and oceans.

The biobased plastic is made by Telles, a company formed between Cambridge Massachusetts, Metabolix and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM).  Telles is a 50-50 joint venture between the two companies.

A new web site was just launched for Mirel plastics.

Telles is currently working with more than 50 prospects on more than 70 applications, including consumer products, packaging, single-use disposables, and products used in agriculture and erosion control.

Francis Ford Coppola Wine to be Sold in Single Serve Plastic Cups

Francis Ford Coppola Rosso and Bianco wines are being sold in single serve plastic cups.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported in an interview with Coppola that he is already selling the wines in single serve packaging at “selected” locations including AT&T Park in San Francisco.

According to the Napa Valley Register the Francis Ford Coppola winery will offer its Rosso cabernet sauvignon and Bianco pinot grigio wines in plastic cups with peel-off foil lids.

Look for single serve wine in reusable bistro style plastic cups to be available nationwide in 2008.  “We’re having some production issues with the seal and the packaging. I’m not sure when we’re going to sell them around the country. Probably not until next year…,” Coppola told the AJC.

At AT&T Park home of the San Francisco Giants, the wines are quite popular outselling similar products with screw-cap tops and wines poured by the glass.  The new offering is designed to attract more consumers and appeals especially to the younger generation

The single-serve wines are known as “187s” referring to their size 187 milliliters or 6.3 ounces.

It is unknown what type of plastic the single serve wine cups are made out of and what the manufacturing process is blow or injection molding.  This is a key element in determining ease of recycling as many communities nationwide do not accept injection molded #1 or #2 plastics.

Of course the cups could be reused, however reuse is currently not a realistic option since they are sold in environments where disposable products are used (baseball stadium).  It is unknown if the Giants organization collects and recycles the wine cups.

Green Toys Set to Launch Line of Bioplastic Toys

San Francisco-based Green Toys is launching a line of what it calls environmentally friendly toys.  The toys will be made from a bio-based plastic produced by Cereplast.

Green Toys’ product lineup is made from Cereplast bio-based plastic resin.  Cereplast resin is made from corn, wheat, potato and tapioca starches as opposed to petroleum.

Green Toys are produced using an injection molding process.  Because of this, the Cereplast resin is combined with polylactide (PLA) from NatureWorks LLC.  PLA is a versatile polymer that is made from a complex process beginning with corn.

In order to achieve some of the physical characteristics needed for Green Toys it was necessary to combine the Cereplast resin with PLA into one final product, explained Kevin Oates from Cereplast’s PR firm Ketchum.

NatureWorks PLA is the world’s first and only performance plastic made from 100 percent annually renewable resources.  NatureWorks LLC is a stand-alone company owned by agricultural giant Cargill.

Green Toys is using biodegradable colorants from PolyOne Corporation in order to give its toys their color.   PolyOne Senior Product Manager Carl Knight said, “the colorants enhance the esthetic without disturbing the compostability of the product.”  The colorants used in the Green Toys application fall under PolyOne’s OnColor(tm)BIO product line.  “We worked with Green Toys to design a custom solution for them – the colors are specific to Green Toys,” Knight said.

In terms of packaging Green Toys is said to be still working on their final packaging design.  They had released an image of a tentative packaging design however that is changing.  The final design will use 100 percent paper board instead of plastic or clam shells.  The company says its packaging is made from recycled paper products.

All aspects of production of Green Toys are done in the U.S., which Robert von Goeben, a partner at Green Toys told toy industry magazine Playthings was another example of an earth-friendly aspect of his company.

According to Kirk Green of Green Toy’s PR firm, Gonzo Communications, Green Toys will be available to consumers after October 1 through the web and at specialty retailers.  The line made its debut at the San Francisco International Gift Fair during the last week of July.

Since the products are not yet available for sale it is too early to gauge their popularity with consumers. Reaction within the toy and plastics industries to the new bioplastic toys runs the gamut from excitement to concern.

Von Goeben says that the response from retailers has been thrilling, and has even caught some of Green Toy’s reps off guard. “Reps think they have their finger on the pulse of the industry, and said that we really came out of left field, so they’re excited about it because it was not on their radar.”

Design News Contributing Materials Editor Doug Smock isn’t convinced the use of biodegradable plastics is a positive move.  “There is no environmental advantage to biodegradable packaging unless you’re the type who throws wrappers out of your car window,” he says.

“Their (Green Toys) pitch is simple and fair: plastics made from corn or potatoes use less energy to produce than plastics made from oil. There is no documentation of that claim on their web site, however, and there should be because fuel made from corn (ethanol) may consume more petroleum than it saves.”

It will be very interesting to see consumer reaction to Green Toys.  If nothing else the line is a significant innovation in the use of bioplastics.

Target Stores Reduce PVC Plastic Packaging

Minneapolis-based Target has used its size and buying power as a way to get suppliers to reduce unnecessary packaging.

The retailer targeted suppliers using the often tough to open “clamshell” style packaging asking them to switch to greener options.

According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, earlier this year Target asked its packaging vendor for Ipod carrying cases to replace its clamshell packaging with a recyclable cardboard package with a small plastic window.    The change in packaging will prevent an estimated 5,000 pounds of PVC from ending up in landfills.

About 18 months ago, Target pushed its seven private-label packaging companies to get rid of excess wraps. The result: Packages for more than 500 items, from dog leashes to toy rocket launchers, have been redesigned to be less harmful to the environment. In about 100 instances, PVC plastic was eliminated from private-label packages.

Target’s biggest competitor Wal-Mart is taking similar steps.  The retail giant has pledged to eliminate all private-label PVC packaging by 2009. The company also has set a goal of producing “zero waste” by 2025; which means that, through recycling and packaging reduction, Wal-Mart will eliminate all waste flowing through its stores and offices.

360 Vodka World’s First Environmentally-friendly Vodka

360 Vodka is billed as the world’s first environmentally-friendly vodka.  A title the newcomer to the adult beverage marketplace appears to deserve.

The Missouri-based company uses locally grown grains for the production of 360 Vodka resulting in reduced fossil fuel consumption in transporting raw materials to the distillery.   The company also uses a variety of advanced filtration and drying processes which they claim make their operation highly efficient reducing their overall carbon footprint.

The packaging of 360 Vodka is highly impressive.  Focusing on packaging design as I often do I have to say this company has covered nearly all the bases in terms of making their product packaging eco-friendly.

Their glass bottle is made from 85% recycled glass, 75% of which is post-consumer.

360 Vodka uses New Leaf Paper products for its labeling, packaging and promotional materials.  The paper is 100% recycled and is printed with water based inks.

Perhaps most innovative is the box their vodka is shipped in.  The shipping box is made of 100% recycled cardboard and is designed to be re-used by consumers.  The box is designed with handles on the sides and can be used for storage, filing, stacking and moving.  I think their box design is ingenious and it shows the company recognizes how often liquor boxes are used for moving and storage by consumers.

The company goes a step further – they have developed a return program for the bottle closures on the top of their bottles.  Consumers can use a postage-paid return process to send back their bottle closures enabling infinite re-use of them by the company.  In addition 360 Vodka will donate $1 for each closure returned to an environmental cause.

360 Vodka’s web site is powered by renewable energy.  Their Vodka is available in the United States.

Goodbye Plastic Disposable Silverware Flatware Cutlery

It always interests me to find products marketed towards a specific community that are virtually unknown to other segments of the marketplace but yet could be quite successful if they were.

This the case with the Snow Peak titanium fork, spoon and knife set.  Marketed toward hikers concerned about the overall weight of their packs, this set has huge potential in the green marketplace.

Snow Peak is a company who makes camping and backpacking gear.  Based in Oregon the company has Japanese roots and places a premium on the design and use of its products.

Their titanium fork, spoon and knife set is the ultimate sustainable alternative to the incredible amount of disposable plastic utensils out there.  What separates the Snow Peak set  even from other sustainable reusable options like bamboo utensils is the fact this set is a lifetime product.  A key element in determining a product’s overall sustainability.

The set weighs a total of 1.8oz/ 52g and comes in a small pouch.  It is perfect for taking to the office for lunch or on the go.  If you are a regular user of disposable plastic utensils for lunch It pays for itself within a matter of several months.  Furthermore the environmental benefits are enormous.

What I like about this product is that its practical and well designed.  Many people who take lunch to work start out with good intentions to bring their own silverware with them but forget and end up using plastic disposals.  The Snow Peak set is easy to keep in your bag or at the office its also interesting and pretty cool which isn’t a bad thing either.

FYI online retailer appears
to have the best price on this set

L.L. Bean Drops Longtime Catalog Printer Verso Paper over Recycling and Sustainability Issues Signs New Deal with Quad/Graphics

L.L. Bean has dropped its longtime catalog printer Verso Paper after the company was unable to meet Bean’s new guidelines for recycled content and sustainable forestry practices.  Verso Paper is a leading provider of paper for catalogs and was created when International Paper sold its coated papers business to Apollo Management.

L.L. Bean signed a multi-year, multi-million-dollar agreement with Wisconsin-based Quad/Graphics.  The multifaceted printing and related services contract begins in January 2008 with the company becoming the exclusive printer and prepress provider for all  L.L. Bean catalogs.  L.L. Bean produces more than 65 catalog titles and ships 250 million catalogs annually.

Quad/Graphics has a “chain-of-custody” certification from the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).  Their clients may display the FSC trademarked “checkmark and tree” logo in their magazines, catalogs and other materials printed on FSC-certified paper.

The goals L.L. Bean set that Verso Paper was apparently unable to meet include the following; by 2008 90% of the fiber used in their catalogs must either be certified under one of the certification systems they recognize (FSC, SFI, CSA, PEFC, ATFS, MLP) or be recycled fiber.  As far as recycled content goes the company is transitioning all catalogs to 20% Post-Consumer Waste recycled content starting in 2008.

Wal-Mart Stores Hosting CFL Recycling Event

Wal-Mart teams up with Waste Management LampTracker for CFL recycling.  LampTracker, a provider of mail-back recycling for fluorescent lighting, was recently acquired by Waste Management.

The partnership will feature a CFL recycling day, Saturday June 23rd, at Wal-Mart stores, Supercenters and Sam’s Clubs in several states.

The recycling events will offer consumers a free and convenient opportunity to drop-off and recycle their used compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) and fluorescent tubes. The bulbs will be collected at kiosks outside stores from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

CFLs contain a small amount of mercury and should be recycled just like batteries, computers, cell phones, thermostats and other household products.

The recycling events will take place in Minnesota, California, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Tulsa, Okla.

The event is a first in the industry and a move some expect will help the retailer cultivate an environmentally friendly image and perhaps drive sales.

“The secret to retailing is, ‘How do you drive footsteps?’  retail consultant Howard Davidowitz told the Pioneer Press. “Any time you drive people into your stores, you win.”

Other retailers have been making similar efforts “but no one as boldly and consistently” as Wal-Mart in the last year, said Joel Makower.

“This advertisement is one part of a larger effort Wal-Mart’s been undertaking to show some green leadership, and they have an uncanny knack for green initiatives that really help build sales where they can really combine doing well with doing good,” he said

Every Man Jack Redefining Men’s Grooming Products


Every Man Jack is a new line of men’s grooming products that launched nationwide in April.  The line is the creation of the former Method VP for Marketing, Ritch Viola.

Every Man Jack is based in San Francisco and carried by Target stores nationwide.  The line includes shaving gel & cream, body wash, face wash & lotion, soap and hair care (currently available in test markets only).

Every Man Jack has more in common with products you’d find at Macy’s or Nordstrom than it does with its shelve-mates at Target.  Nevertheless, it is redefining men’s grooming and offering customers a better choice in terms of ingredients and design than anything in its price point.

All Every Man Jack products sell for $4.99 or less.  Viola is counting on this simple, direct pricing approach, combined with trendy graphic & industrial design to draw consumers.  Better, healthier ingredients are another feature, beyond the products’ low cost and high end appearance.  But it won’t be easy.  Men are generally a difficult group when it comes to introducing new products, especially grooming or personal care items.

Studies have shown that most men are reluctant to try new products, and tend to stick with old staples; this is not necessarily a result of the staple’s quality over new products.   It appears men are simply habit bound when it comes to their product use.  The motivation to research and to find new products isn’t as common with men as it is women.  This is one of the reasons you often see gift packs of grooming products available and featured in stores.  Often these gift packs are offered by new brands or specialty brands.  Young companies hope a family member or friend will buy the gift pack and give it to their husband, father, etc, who will then try the product and possibly switch allegiance.

Viola, 35, is aware of these challenges.  Business degrees from both Berkeley and UCLA prepared him to work first with Oakland-based Clorox and then Method before starting his own business.  Working at Clorox and Method offered him many important insights and contacts within the industry.

“Seventy percent of retail purchases are made at the shelf,” says Viola.  “So a product with low brand awareness better have great design.  I’ve always believed your product is your best marketing tool,” he said.  His line clearly embodies this ideal.

When Viola started to explore making men’s grooming products, his first challenge was to create a niche in the marketplace apart from what was already available.

The task of formulating the products became one of deciding what ingredients to leave out, rather than include. “I went through the products piece by piece and asked, ‘why do we need it?’ For anything that was added,” he said.  Just by questioning the current “way of doing things” in making grooming products at this price point, Viola was able to make his product better.  This small move allowed him to make the new line different and better than his competitors.

In a recent phone interview he emphasized one of the main ingredients he chose not to include was tallow.  Tallow (stearin) is a beef fat that is a common component of most soaps.  “I thought it was disgusting,” he said.

He didn’t stop there.  None of his products use parabens (synthetic preservatives), and instead use natural alternatives.  Other things he left out include dyes, sulfates, oils and SLS.

However, having high-quality formulas and natural ingredients wasn’t enough for Viola.  The next step was creating a brand identity.  He knew his products needed to be masculine and easily identifiable, due to initial low brand recognition.

The answer was graphic and industrial design.  The consumers Viola is going after want products that are easy to use, perform well, are masculine and well designed.  “There isn’t a whole lot going on in design in household and personal care products in this price point,” Viola said.  “Sure, you’ll see it in higher priced designer products.”

He made an interesting comparison by noting the food industry is much further ahead in terms of design at lower price points.  “If you walk through Whole Foods you’ll see more of an emphasis on design in food products,” he said.

Viola is certainly familiar with the power innovative graphic & industrial design can have on a customer.  After all, in 2001 when he was with Clorox he noticed a high concept dish detergent on the shelves at a local Target.  The dish detergent was made by Method, and as reported in Advertising Age, left Viola wondering why Clorox couldn’t do something similar.  Just about a year after he found this intriguing detergent he was VP of Marketing for Method.

Michael Rutchik of Mudhaus was placed in charge of the graphic design of all Every Man Jack packaging.  Rutchik created the identity for Method and was the perfect person for the job.   Viola wanted something that was “clean, modern and had a splash of color.”   He was inspired by several “really cool modern barbershops,” and got the idea of employing a wood grain from these classic masculine interiors.  Rutchik incorporated the idea into an identity for the brand.

The final piece of the puzzle came from industrial designer Wai-Loong Lim of Y Studios.  Viola wanted a custom design for some of his packaging.  Lim designed the containers for the face wash, body wash and hair care products.  The design was inspired by the overall identity of the line, and an unexpected source: an old Mexican tequila bottle.  It was perfect.

Putting the graphic and industrial design pieces together, all of Viola’s products would feature a wood grain cap. Three of them would use stock containers and three would use the custom containers Lim created.

With the packaging and product formulations set, Viola was ready to launch his line.  He approached Target to carry his products, saying the large-scale retailer was an ideal fit in terms of its consumer base.  The products launched nationwide in April, and he has been busy supplying Target since.

Currently, Viola is focusing all his efforts on supplying Target and developing his line.  In the future he expects the line to be available at other retailers, and is also working on new products.