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Sustainable is Good

Trader Joes toothpaste Deodorant & Soap

Three personal care products from Trader Joe’s Shine

Three products from Trader Joe’s stores have found their way into my life on a daily basis. Now mind you these may not be the most exciting products but I use each of them every day and collectively they all cost less than $9 and last me a long time. The three products are Trader Joe’s All Natural Anti-Cavity Toothpaste, Trader Joe’s unscented deodorant and Trader Joe’s Pure Castile Soap.

Trader Joe’s All Natural Anti-Cavity Toothpaste with Baking Soda & Fluoride uses natural ingredients like hydrated silica and Essential Oil of Peppermint to form a gentle great tasting tooth paste that doesn’t harm the enamel of your teeth. Made with no artificial sweeteners (like saccharin), No Sodium Laurel Sulfate and No Propylene Glycol this toothpaste is safe, basic, effective and cheap what else do you want?

Trader Joe’s unscented deodorant is hands down the best natural deodorant I have ever used. I have tried many of them believe me in my quest to get away from the large amount of chemicals found in most of the conventional deodorants on the market, especially antiperspirant deodorants. This deodorant is paraben and aluminum free and is actually made with cotton fibers to fight wetness by absorbing moisture. Hands down this is my favorite product I just love it and its made in Canada.

Perhaps the best overall bargain is Trader Joe’s Pure Castile Soap which comes in a 16oz bottle for $2.99 try finding Dr. Bonners for that. TJs Pure Castile Soap has a peppermint scent to it containing oils of peppermint, olive and coconut as well as aloe vera. Contains no animal products of any kind – I use it every day in the shower its just fantastic. It can also be used as a regular hand soap, shampoo, fruit wash, general use cleaner in the kitchen for scrubbing pots and pans etc. I cannot recommend this product enough and at the price its one of the best values out there.

Now good news – Trader Joe’s stores are located across the country these products are available nationwide so check them out.

Boxed Water from Boxed Water is Better

Boxed Water is the latest in water packaging trends from Michigan-based Boxed Water is Better.  The company produces well designed milk carton style boxes for its water.  The cartons are shipped unfilled and filled on demand as needed dramatically reducing transportation costs and environmental impact.

The boxed water packaging is made from up to 90% renewable resources.  It features a solid white carton with the graphic design done in black creating a sharp, highly effective package design that reads “Boxed Water is Better for the Earth.”

The company said the concept for the Boxed Water started with the simple idea of creating a new bottled water brand that was more environmentally responsible and gives back a bit – they found that it shouldn’t be bottled at all, but instead, boxed. So they looked to the past for inspiration in the century old beverage container and decided to keep things simple, sustainable, and beautiful.

Boxed Water is Better says their carbon footprint is dramatically lower as the boxes are shipped flat to their filler and filled only as demand is created, opposed to most bottled water companies that ship their empty bottles across the globe to be filled, then shipped back for consumption.

As a comparative example the flat, unfilled boxes they can fit on 2 pallets, or roughly 5% of a truckload, would require about 5 truckloads for empty plastic or glass bottles.

Their cartons can also be broken down to their original flat state, are recyclable in most areas, and will be everywhere shortly. We’re also giving 20% of our profits back to the resources our product is composed of – water and trees. Not only does it simply make sense, but we really enjoy supporting water and forestation organizations as it’s part of our company’s ethos and way of thinking to give back and participate. All that and an over-arching focus on simple and beautiful design that compliments our brand as well as the spaces it’s sold and consumed in.

Currently Boxed Water is Better is available at a number of retailers in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area though I wouldn’t be surprised to see the concept expanded to other metro areas around the country.

Me and Goji Custom Cereal

Me & Goji is an interesting new company based in New Hampshire that makes custom made cereal for its customers.  Me & Goji focuses on using high quality organic/natural ingredients, an innovative web-based cereal creation system, simple effective design and environmentally friendly packaging to make the whole experience of creating custom cereal as easy as possible for its customers.

Adam Sirois, Me & Goji’s founder told me about the unique name of his company.  “Goji comes from goji berries which are pound for pound probably the healthiest food on earth,” said Sirois.  “They are found in the high altitude of the Himalayas in Tibet.  The “me” in the brackets allow for interpolation which invokes the theme of customization: anything or anyone can be inserted.”

Creating a custom made cereal is simple.  Me & Goji offers five different cereal bases to begin with and more than thirty individual ingredients to add in order to create a your own unique blend.  Pricing is individual based on what you add to your custom blend.

I put together a blend which I aptly named “Rider’s Cereal Blend” which consisted of Artisanal Cereal blend base (multigrain oat bran, rye, spelt, barley, amarath and wheat germ) cacao nibs, granola, goji berries and pumpkin seeds.  The blend was delicious I loved being able to put exactly what I wanted in my cereal – what a cool concept.

The cereal comes in a canister with a custom nutritional label to match your own cereal blend.  Sirois designed the look and feel of the canister which is a very functional container for the cereal.

The cereal is shipped in a cardboard box made from 100% post consumer recycled material.  The shipping boxes Sirois uses are made by Chicago-based Globe Guard and are custom sized to fit his cereal canister which allows Sirois to further reduce waste and keep his environmental impact as low as possible.

“We are extremely happy with the packaging,” Sirois said.  “Functionally it has suited all our needs, especially in terms of getting our product safely in good shape to the consumer, which should not be overlooked since our product is shipped directly.”

If adding high quality organic items like Maine Blueberries, cacao Nibs, Goji Berries, Hunza Raisins, Goldenberries and many others sounds good then I’d suggest checking out Me & Goji.

Boxed Water Hits Marketplace Nationwide

AQUA2GO is a new boxed water now available in many locations.  The company claims its water is much more sustainable than bottled waters and touts its packaging as a key component in its sustainability.  AQUA2GO  is purified through a reverse osmosis process.

AQUA2GO is packaged in Tetra Brik Aseptic packaging made by Tetra Pak Inc.  The company claims their product is 96% water and 4% packaging compared to a typical 80% product and 20% packaging.  The Tetra Brik packaging is made from 74% wood (paper), 20% plastic and 6% aluminum.

The company says because of its packaging its water has a five-year shelf life and is not susceptible to environmental factors like temperature and light like bottled water.  Their water requires no special storage, is compact and lightweight and the package can easily be flattened after use.

AQUA2GO is available nationally thanks to a deal with the large organic distributor Tree of Life.  AQUA2GO was  initially launched in Whole Foods’ Louisiana stores, Winn Dixie (100 stores along the Gulf Coast), Rouse’s, Langensteins and several other local New Orleans stores.

The new national distribution agreement with Tree of Life has expanded AQUA2GO’s presence across the country now making it available to other national merchants who do business with Tree of Life (such as WalMart, Krogers, Hy-Vee, Wild Oats, Roundy’s and more), as well as the remaining Whole Foods regions.

It will be interesting to track the reaction to this product in the marketplace.  AQUA2GO does not appear to be available in my region yet.

Despite the company’s claim its packaging is a better option in terms of the environment it should be noted that point is at the very least debatable.

Newton Running Packaging Fits the Shoe

Colorado-based Newton Running is using packaging that is very simple and cost effective yet at the same time the packaging is highly functional and very chic.

Using molded paperboard packaging in the shape of their shoes Newton has created something unique in their packaging. The packaging not only reduces waste by eliminating the need for interior tissue paper and other material commonly used in shoe packaging but it also provides a shell that is easy to stack and transport.

The company worked with TDA Advertising and Design on this packaging design. Instead of using additional paper and materials the shoes are stuffed with a pair of socks and reusable shoe bag.

Newton’s packaging reminds me of the egg carton style packaging Pangea Organics uses for its bar soaps.

Seattle Styrofoam Ban Leads to Packaging Changes

Seattle’s ban on #6 polystyrene trays (commonly known as Styrofoam) at restaurants and grocery stores went into effect on July 1.  As a result there have been a number of changes to packaging in the city.  One of the most obvious – grocery stores were forced to come up with packaging alternatives to the commonly used Styrofoam meat tray.

Slashfood ran an interesting post on the situation a couple weeks ago.  The city’s Metropolitan Market Chain and others are switching to corn based compostable meat tray packing made by Pactiv.

Made by Illinois-based Pactiv, the tan trays can be used for meat, fish and poultry and then tossed into the compost pile along with other food waste, the radio station reported.

Pactiv also makes Hefty products. The company launched its EarthChoice brand of nearly 80 sustainable packaging products including cups, hinged-lid containers, plates, and straws in May.

Pactiv sales rep Dave Powell told local radio station, KPLU that using the new trays is a boon for Seattle’s green reputation, and that while there is controversy surrounding the use of corn for anything other than food production, his company’s customers want more eco-friendly packaging that will break down. 

The area’s Cedargrove composting facilities can break down the corn resin into soil in six months, KPLU reported.
The city told KPLU the move will prevent six thousand tons of plastic and plastic-tainted waste from being sent to landfills in Oregon every year.

As more and more cities create restrictions on the use of polystyrene we’ll continue to see further development in packaging alternatives.  We’ve reported heavily on the use of new fresh meat pouch style packaging that has appeared at stores like Whole Foods.  The pouch packaging also eliminates the need for the polystyrene tray. 

Other companies like Murray’s Chicken are using similar packaging. 

Makers of Splenda® buy Hundreds of Negative Domain Names

splendakills.com, victimsofsplenda.com, splendatoxicity.com are all domain names owned by the makers of Splenda – see below for extensive list

Image is everything today, if you don’t believe that statement, just look at the lengths the companies who produce the artificial sweetener Splenda® are going to control potentially negative information on their product.  Tate & Lyle, manufacturer of Splenda®, along with its US based co-developer Johnson & Johnson have bought up potentially negative domain names by the hundreds.  The three top level .com domain names mentioned above sound like something out of a medical examiners post mortem but they are actually domain names owned by the sweeteners own makers.  Why?

Realizing how times have changed and how now a simple Google search can yield consumers a wealth of information on a particular product both good and bad it appears Tate & Lyle and Johnson & Johnson are taking steps to control potentially negative information by buying domain names that could be used to post such information.  Is it brilliant corporate strategy or a plan that could backfire tremendously down the road? Are the makers of Splenda® outwitting potential critics, or are they themselves documenting their own products’ shortcomings and risks by buying these domain names?

Splenda® is the commercial name for sucralose, which was discovered in 1976 by scientists from Tate & Lyle working with researchers from King’s College in London.  In 1980 Tate & Lyle joined forces with Johnson & Johnson to develop the product for commercial consumption under the name Splenda®.  The two companies formed a new company McNeil Nutritionals to produce Splenda® under.

Splenda’s motto is “made from sugar… so it tastes like sugar” however its chemical structure is different than sugar.  It is made by the selective chlorination of sucrose, by which three of sucrose’s hydroxyl groups are substituted with chlorine atoms to produce the compound, 1,6 dichloro-1,6-dideoxy-β-D-fructo-furanosyl4-chloro-4-deoxy-α-D-galactopyranoside – otherwise known as Splenda®.  Wikipedia reports sucralose is 320-1000 times as sweet as sucrose and unlike other artificial sweeteners it is stable under heat making it usable in baking and also meaning it has a longer shelf life.

Splenda® was first approved for use in Canada in 1991, it is also approved and sold in Australia (1993), New Zealand (1996), US (1998) and the EU (2004).   It is approved and sold in over 60 countries.

The artificial sweetener is at the center of a heated debate in the United States and the EU as its popularity rises, over its slogan “made from sugar…so it tastes like sugar,” and unknown and/or potentially harmful health issues associated with it.  Many large food companies in the United States and abroad have rolled out “sugar free” lines of products featuring Splenda.  In fact, today Splenda® is found in more than 4,500 food and beverage products.

The January 2007 issue of the Ecologist ran a small blurb reporting Tate & Lyle and Johnson & Johnson have bought nearly 300 domain names and listed a handful of them.  The blurb suggested the companies were concerned about negative publicity from earlier reports in their own publication as well as a number of others.   Sustainable Is Good took the lead and ran with it, and the result is an interesting look into the often highly secret corporate PR/marketing process which rarely leaves meetings and internal company discussions.  Using public internet domain registration records and actual active URL’s the information showed that Tate & Lyle and Johnson & Johnson developed a two prong approach towards dealing with negative domain names.  The companies then embarked on an aggressive domain name buying spree.  We can verify ownership of at least 211 negative domain names owned between the two companies relating to Splenda®.

Here is a breakdown of the strategies used by the companies:

Strategy 1 – reactive domain purchasing: Identify currently active negative websites dealing with Splenda and then buy up all associated remaining domain names.  For instance they looked at Dr. Janet Hull’s website www.splendaexposed.com and then bought up splendaexposed.net, .org, .biz, and .info.

Strategy 2 – forecasting potential future domains: Here is where the process gets really interesting.  It appears the companies had a brainstorming session of sorts to attempt to forecast what domain names people might buy in the future related to Splenda® and then in turn bought all the domain names related to their forecasted domain name.  The resulting domain names the companies determined must be purchased are shocking.  For instance splendavictims.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info or splendatoxicity.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info. or suralosepoison.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info.

Following these two strategies Tate & Lyle and Johnson & Johnson own the following domain names:

Johnson & Johnson owns:

splendasucks.net, .org, .biz, .info
splendakills.net, .org, biz .info
splendatruth.com , .net, .org, .biz, .info
splendapoison.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info
thedangersofsplenda.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info
thefactsaboutsplenda.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info
thesplendadangers.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info
thesplendafacts.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info
victimsofsplenda.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info
thetruthaboutsplenda.net, .org, .biz, .info
thesplendatruth.com, .net, .org, ,biz, .info
splendatoxicity.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info
splendatoxicitycenter.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info
splendavictims.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info
splendahealth.com
splendaandyourhealth.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info
splendaandyourfamily.com, .net, .org, .info, .biz
splendamyths.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info
splendaalert.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info
splendafacts.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info
splendasafety.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info
truthaboutsplenda.info, .biz
splendasideeffects.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info
aboutsplenda.com
allaboutsplenda.net
banonsplenda.com
bittertruthaboutsplenda.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info
factsaboutsplenda.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info
mythsaboutsplenda.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info
officialsplendasite.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info
splendadangers.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info
splendadiabetes.com
splendaisnotsafe.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info
splendaisnotsosweet.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info
splendasucralose.com
thetruthaboutsplendasafety.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info

Tate & Lyle owns:

sucralosepoison, com, .net, .info, .org, .biz, .us
sucralosekills.com, net, .info, .org, .biz, .us
sucralosesucks.com, .net, .info,.org, .biz, .us
sucraloseandyourhealth.com , .net, .org, .biz, .info, .us
sucralosesafety.com , .net, .org, .biz, .info, .us
sucralosefacts.com, .net, .org, biz, .info, .us
sucralosetruth.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info, .us
truthaboutsucralose.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info, .us
chlorosucralose.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info, .us
sucraloseandyourhealth.com, .net, .org, .biz, .info, .us

Judging by the domain names Johnson & Johnson and Tate & Lyle own it’s very clear they are concerned about people targeting targeting Splenda® itself, or its main ingredient sucralose.   The mere fact a major corporation and maker of a product has bought and owns domain names with their product name and the words “poison,” “kills,” and “sucks,” and “victims” is amazing.  Under what possible scenario does Johnson & Johnson envision that someone would create the website “victimsofsplenda.com”   This domain name and many others seem to go way beyond a company protecting its trademarks or copyright – these domain names imply a very sobering negative fear on the parts of Johnson & Johnson and Tate & Lyle.

Further research shows that reactive and forecast domain name purchasing wasn’t the only strategy the Splenda® makers had.  They are also going after people registering domain names using the name Splenda in it.  A pubic records search of the National Arbitration Forum, the body that hears domain name disputes in the United States for ICANN, shows McNeil Nutritionals (maker of Splenda®) has filed three recent domain name disputes.  The three disputes the company filed each resulted in the domain name in question being ordered transferred to McNeil.

McNeil Nutritionals, LLC v. Troy Ellison domains in question sweetenedwithsplenda.com & madewithsplenda.com were ordered transferred to McNeil on 10/3/06

McNeil Nutritionals , LLC v. Steven Odinetz domain in question liquidsplenda.com ordered transferred 10/6/06

McNeil Nutritionals, LLC v. {registrant} domain in question splendakills.com ordered transferred 10/20/06

The mere fact a major company owns domain names associated with its star product that include the words, “kills,” “victims,” “toxicity,” “dangers,” “not so safe,” “sucks,” and many others is rather alarming.  Thinking back over the last ten years its difficult not to wonder what would have happened if the Internet in this fashion was a major factor in the tobacco lawsuits. Many of the tobacco cases coming forward relied heavily on the emergence of internal documents that showed companies new their products were harmful.  Suppose the Internet as we know it today was in existence in the late 1950s and 1960s and tobacco companies preemptively bought domain names like www.tobaccokills.com or www.tobaccovictims.com knowing what they knew about their products and anticipating a problem in the future.

It’s hard not to wonder – buying a handful of top level domain names to protect a company name or trademark seems reasonable but buying over 200 possibly as high as 300 negative domain names related to a product seems over the top.  Is there something these companies know about Splenda® that make them feel the need to buy all these domain names before someone else can?  Who would ever imagine a website www.victimsofsplenda.com – honestly?  Well apparently someone at Johnson & Johnson did because they now own the domain along with a host of others.

McDonalds Sweet Tea Styrofoam Packaging

While most companies and a number of municipalities are phasing out the use of #6 polystyrene (commonly referred to and known as styrofoam) in fast food packaging one of the largest fast food companies in the US, McDonalds, is using it for its popular Sweet Tea drink.

McDonalds is heavily promoting its Sweet Tea, offering a large sized cup for just $1

The large #6 styrofoam cup was developed specifically for McDonalds by Dart.

While most disposable fast food cups including those made of paper are not easily recyclable, McDonalds choice of a styrofoam cup for a new product promotion is significant.  Does the company consider styrofoam a better option than paper?

The topic has come up on McDonalds Corporate Social Responsibility blog Open for Discussion.

Responding to a comment from a reader who was concerned about the company’s use of styrofoam for its Sweet Tea drinks a McDonalds representative said the company looks at “life cycle impacts as opposed to only ‘end-of-life’ impacts.”

A McDonalds customer posted the following question on McDonalds CSR blog, “I was wondering why the new sweet tea is being served in styrofoam cups. I know you have responded to other styrofoam questions but I’m wondering why a new drink product needs to be served in styrofoam when the paper cups work for every other drink. While I know the paper cups most likely don’t get recycled, at least they will degrade in the environment unlike styrofoam. Why is this new tea using something that it proven to be so bad for the environment when there are much better choices already being used?”

McDonalds posted the following response to the readers questions which shed some light on their decision to use styrofoam.  “It’s true that in the U.S., food service cups of any material are not recycled significantly. We look to optimize life cycle impacts as opposed to only “end-of-life” impacts. This means that we’ll evaluate a package for impacts across many criteria (e.g., weight, resource use, recyclability) as opposed to only selecting the package based on its ability to be recycled. Also, environment is one of several criteria used for decision making; key amongst this is meeting our customer’s expectations. Others include functionality, cost and supply availability.”

McDonalds has worked globally on its environmental image, so their choice of styrofoam drink packaging for a new product warrants our attention.  What is McDonalds saying by making the choice to use this material?

Preserve Kitchen

Recycline has added a new series of products to its popular Preserve line.  The new products are called Preserve Kitchen and include two types of cutting boards, food storage containers and a colander.  Most of the products will be sold exclusively at Whole Food Market, several are available directly from Recycline.

“The idea behind the line was sparked over a year ago when Whole Foods Market approached us about our ideas for green housewares,” said Recycline’s Marketing Director C.A. Webb.  “Many of their stores have housewares sections and they saw an opportunity to better align that part of the store with the rest of their organic and natural offerings.”

The products themselves are the result of a partnership between Recycline and Connecticut-based industrial design firm Evo Design.

“We wanted our designs to take their cues from natural shapes found in the kitchen and to be eye popping and exciting both in shape and color,” said Webb.  Evo Design did exactly that taking their design cues from nature.  For instance, the food storage container gets its inspiration from an apple, the colander resembles a strawberry.

But beyond the simple organic designs, making sure that the design and the design process met environmental standards every step of the way was challenging. “We are working hard to ensure that the design supports sustainability,” says Aaron Szymanski, President of Evo Design

The Preserve Kitchen products are the first Preserve products designed by Evo.  “They’ve shown an amazing knack for understanding our brand and have a total commitment to helping us deliver on Preserve brand’s promise:  high performance, high design, eco-friendly products,” said Recycline’s Director of Product Development Ben Anderson.

“Whole Foods Market (WFM) has been one of our strongest retail partners and was a natural place for us to launch the Preserve Kitchen line,” said Webb.  “WFM sells the entire line of Preserve products -toothbrushes, razors, toothpicks, and tableware, all popular with their customers.  We also, of course, saw the synergies in launching our first foray into the kitchen with one of the most innovative food retailers in the world,” she said.

Most of the Preserve Kitchen line will be initially sold exclusively at WFM and hits store shelves this week in all regions except three (Midwest, Florida, and Pacific Northwest) but will roll out to all regions by spring.  WFM will carry a cutting board, food storage containers (large & small) and a colander all made from 100% recycled #5 polypropylene (PP) plastic – like Preserve’s other products.

We’ve had a chance to test out the new products and have nothing but praise for their design and material usage.  Recycline has become the master at making useful products from pure recycled #5 PP plastic, and Preserve Kitchen products are no exception.

Like other Preserve products the packaging is minimal to non-existent.  The food storage containers come in minimal paperboard packaging (100% recycled/ 35% PCW) while the cutting board and colander simply have a Preserve label affixed to them with no packaging at all.

 Preserve adds Paperstone Cutting Boards to Product Line Up

In addition to the Preserve Kitchen products made from #5 PP, the company  has added two new cutting boards made from Paperstone to its Preserve Kitchen product line.

Paperstone is a material that has been used in green countertops for several years now.  “We were also curious to explore a new material and developed a cutting board from Paperstone,” said Webb.

The Paperstone cutting boards are available directly from Recycline or at Whole Foods Market in two sizes and are both Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and RainForest Alliance certified made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper.

The addition of the new Paperstone cutting boards is exciting – its always good to experiment with new materials.  We see this new line as an area Recycline can continue to explore, hopefully developing more products from this material.  It is durable and easy to clean and the fact its made from post-consumer recycled paper is a tremendous positive in terms of its greenness.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Dubbed the Greenest Book in Publishing History

The final installment in the Harry Potter series will be the greenest book in publishing history according to Markets Initiative, an environmental group focusing on paper.  Five years of work by Markets Initiative and the Rainforest Alliance is putting tangible environmental solutions into the hands of Harry Potter fans in 16 countries.

For the initial printing of 12 million copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in the United States, publisher Scholastic has committed to making sure 65% of the 16,700 tons of paper used is FSC-certified, which means the paper comes from forestlands that are managed in a socially and environmentally responsible way.

Totaling nearly 22 million pounds, this is the largest purchase of FSC-certified paper to be used in a single book printing to date. Moreover, all the paper used in the printing will contain at least 30 % post-consumer waste fiber, with much of that verified by FSC standards as well

The Rainforest Alliance worked with Scholastic to develop its plan to buy FSC-certified paper and will continue helping the company refine its responsible paper procurement policies.

Markets Initiative’s work on greening the Harry Potter series has fundamentally changed the way that book publishers use paper.  More than 300 publishers internationally now print on papers that help safeguard endangered forests. A new paper supply chain has been sparked and 35 new eco-friendly papers developed.

Market Initiative Graphic on Environmental Impact of Harry Potter Book