Tag Archives: environmentally friendly

FAQs: Can I Afford to Buy Eco-Friendly Products?

Many of our clients are surprised to hear that eco-friendly presentation and mailing materials can cost the same or less than unfriendly materials. Unfortunately, the marketplace has been trained to assume that making eco-friendly choices comes at a price.  I’ve seen businesses eliminate (needed) materials altogether in an attempt to go green because they don’t think they have budget-friendly options.

Eco-friendly can be budget-friendly by aligning with smart buying principles:

– Buying power.  If your supplier makes a major investment in buying, let’s say Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper (more on that topic here), then the cost of that material becomes very competitive against less environmentally attractive stocks.

Economies of scale.  The Conformer portfolio made of recycled milk jug poly costs the same as buying it from virgin poly (recyclable, but not made of post-consumer recycled material).  Our base materials come from a poly extruder that specializes and extrudes milk jug poly in volume.  Then it becomes an aesthetic rather than a price-based decision.  That’s ideal.

Long-term eco-commitment of your vendors. Becoming FSC-certified is an arduous process with upfront costs. But once an organization has realigned its operations to comply with the Forest Stewardship Council’s specifications, the ongoing costs of this inventory management system become operationally streamlined.  Vendors that dabble in green products don’t achieve this cost benefit.

Buying quality products.  Durability reduces the probability that your materials become insta-trash.  In other words, if it looks like junk, it gets junked. If your presentation and mailing materials can survive the journey from the printer to storage to fulfillment to more storage to possibly mail processing to your customer’s desk — and still look good doing it — your materials will more likely be reused by your customer.  (And you get bonus points if your name is all over it.)

Tell us about your experiences sourcing eco-friendly materials on a budget, and we will gladly shine the spotlight on you here on the Conformer Products blog.

Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

Hall of Shame #9: Bubble Mailers, a Slow Death

I think consumers are smart enough to recognize “greenwashing” when they see it.  Greenwashing, a term whose origin seems derived from “brainwashing,” is when a company spins its product in a way to position it as more eco-friendly than it actually is.  Keep that in mind as you read the following and decide for yourself whether or not you’re being “greenwashed.”

Ingredients of a Bubble Mailer

Can you read the ingredients list on the bubble mailer photo to my left? It says “100% Recycled Paper/10% Post-Consumer” and “10% Recycled Plastic.”  At first glance, the use of recycled material seems like a great thing, doesn’t it?

Let’s pull this product apart a little though, no pun intended.  A bubble mailer is a kraft-like paper bag with plastic bubble material sealed to its interior.  [Did you know that this bubble material was invented in 1960? (See Wikipedia.)  Bubble material is a pretty ancient technology that was cutting edge in its heyday.  Remember the 1967 movie “The Graduate” when Mr. McGuire says “Plastics!“?]

In any case, everybody knows you need to separate your recyclables — paper goes with paper, plastic goes with plastic- so that these materials can be recycled and made into something new.  In a traditional bubble mailer, these two media are sealed together and it is difficult to impossible to separate them.  So even though the product may be made of recycled material, the bubble mailer cannot be recycled.  To the landfill it goes, where it will sit for hundreds of years, just like a baby’s diaper.  

My attempt at separating a bubble mailer

Clearly this bubble mailer’s manufacturer is attempting to put more recycled content into its product so that’s good.  But at the end of the day, the end result is a product headed straight for the landfill, and that’s bad.  So tell me, readers, do you think this bubble mailer should be in Conformer’s Hall of Shame?
-Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

Put Your Initials on Conformer’s Interoffice Envelope

Many of you are on environmental task forces charged with the job of implementing reduce, reuse, and recycle practices throughout the office.  The underwhelming interoffice envelope seems to be the latest target, and is clearly in the crosshairs of task forces.  Twice in the same week, I found myself listening to frustrations about the reality of interoffice envelopes… that it doesn’t hold very much, isn’t durable for the job required of it, and despite its multi-usability, get trashed at the end of the day.

Conformer is in Stage 2 of prototype development for an infinitely reusable interoffice envelope made from recycled milk jug plastic (that’s post consumer waste…the best kind). 

Conformer Milk Jug Plastic interoffice envelope prototype

Conformer Milk Jug Plastic interoffice envelope prototype

Imagine never having to throw away an interoffice envelope again!  Imagine using an envelope that’s durable and versatile to be used thousands of times!  If reducing your office product costs permanently and improving the planet sounds like a good fit with your company’s objectives, we want to hear from you.  Give me your input at smcconnell@conformerinc.com and help put the finishing touches on this exciting new Conformer product.

-Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

Buyers Prove More Cost-Conscious than Eco-Conscious

I love trees – don’t get me wrong – but I am just now shaking off my Earth Day media hangover.  My favorite misguided environmental piece argued the environmental impact of bicycle frame materials: specifically, whether carbon fiber was recyclable or not, and if it was more environmentally responsible to buy a steel bike.

We have been marketing environmentally conscious mailing products for some time.  I can say from experience that many companies are missing the environmental mark.  Consumers and corporations talk about making purchasing decisions based on environmental factors, but when it comes time to hand over the credit card, everything circles back to price.

I point to the hybrid car market as a perfect example.  Sixteen months ago, there was a three month waiting list for a Toyota Prius.  Fuel prices were near $4.  But now that fuel has dropped to $2, Toyota is offering Prius rebates.  Hybrids cost more, and with a sudden drop in fuel costs, hybrid sales went “From 60 to 0 at breakneck speed.”  What happened to carbon footprints and dependence on foreign energy?

There is no mystery here.  Environmental consciousness is terrific, but at the end of the day, consumers and corporations will only buy an eco-friendly alternative if it performs the same task and costs the same or less than traditional products.

by Bob Makofsky bmakofsky@conformerinc.com

Conformer Plastic Envelope Goes Green

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Conformer Products Uses Recycled Milk Jugs to Enhance Envelope Sustainability

Great Neck, NY, July 8, 2008 – Conformer Products has just launched its award-winning plastic envelope in 75% post-consumer material—specifically, recycled milk jugs. The recycled material enhances an already environmentally friendly product: the patented Conformer design uses up to 20% less material than standard envelopes, and the sturdy envelope can be re-used.

“The market is demanding sustainable products, and now our products are even better positioned to support corporate environmental sustainability initiatives,” said Marvin Makofsky, president of Conformer. ”In the last few months, we have introduced Forest Stewardship Council or FSC-certified paper envelopes, presentation folders and mailers, as well as paperboard mailers made from 85% post-consumer content. Now our line of plastic envelopes can be made from reclaimed milk jugs.”

“When we looked for products that would make sense to manufacture from recycled plastic materials, the Conformer envelope was at the top of the list,” said Earl Guinter, a plastics manufacturing industry veteran whose organization is licensed to make the Conformer product. “It’s a popular, versatile product that can also be easily customized.”

Sustainability has long been important at Guinter’s organization. The manufacturing plant re-uses 90% of post-industrial materials for other jobs and sells the remaining 10% for re-use in other plastic applications. “Now we are buying reclaimed milk jugs, re-extruding the plastic and using the material to make Conformer’s plastic envelopes,” he said.

One of the company’s most popular products, Conformer’s plastic envelope is a favorite among direct marketers and sales professionals because of its versatility to hold a little or a lot of content, depending on the need. The translucent material helps boost open and response rates by allowing recipients to see the contents, and the attractive design—available in eight colors, including clear—makes the envelope a popular choice for presentations.

by Bob Makofsky

www.conformerinc.com