Industry News: Small Brands: Going Green
On looking back on how a small startup company like Terralina was able to go green, cofounder Gina Garrubbo said that it was, and still is, a challenge. She cited limited resources, the limits of the brand’s small minimums, lack of innovation in the packaging industry, few green players, and the premium costs of sustainable packaging. “I would run around different trade shows and find only one or two companies that were making sustainable products,” she said. “It’s really hard to find companies that are committed to sustainability. It was also hard because there’s no resource for anyone to consult. There’s no green guide to packaging.”
However, she says, eco-friendliness was important to her, so she found ways to make it happen. “You can be as eco-friendly as you can afford to be and want to be. We tried to copy the best practices of firms that we admired, such as Aveda and Jurlique. Be who you are. Look at those model companies that have the same values as you and pick and choose things that resonate with your brand.”
Using greener practices and materials can actually save companies money, John Delfausse pointed out. For instance, at a time when oil is at an all-time high, using renewable energy will benefit companies. Also, said, Lauder brand Aveda’s green choices for its Brilliant hair care line—eliminating cobalt-blue glass, making packages lighter weight, using 100% PCR, and avoiding paper cartons, instead using multifold labels—all resulted in a cost savings of $50,000 per SKU.
Robert Kerr also pointed out that reducing the amount of materials used or using lighter-weight materials also saves companies the costs of superfluous materials. Also, some recycled materials are cheaper than virgin materials, such as aluminum.
Communicate with Consumers
Consumer education is key, said Kerr and Delfausse, adding that if consumers don’t know that packaging is recyclable, then it won’t make a difference. “State requirements for recycling and composting clearly on packaging,” said Kerr.
Garrubbo urged brands to be honest with their customers about exactly how green your packaging is. “You have to be transparent,” she said, or brands will fall under the danger of greenwashing and risk losing customer trust. For instance, she said, Terralina uses as high of a percentage of natural ingredients as it can. However, the company is unable to avoid a certain percentage of synthetic ingredients, making its percentage of natural ingredients not 100%, but 98.85%—a fact that it readily shares with its customers. “Customers are now savvy,” said Garrubbo. “They want to know that you are trying your best. So we try to be transparent. We say that we’re doing the best that we can, and if it doesn’t work for a customer, so be it. We are straightforward about our inability to be perfect.”
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