Tag Archives: packaging solutions

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 #10: The Story He’s Telling

Side view of inappropriately-used USPS Priority Mailer

So I’ve been psychoanalyzing our packaging choices, and what they say about us and our brand to the customer.  If you’ve read Inconvenient Truth: When a (Visual) Story > 1000 Words, you’re probably already in agreement that this package (see photo) has a very sad story to tell, and whatever message this Amazon reseller was trying to send me — customer loyalty, trust, good judgment — just got flushed down the toilet because of a poor packaging choice.

This vendor is taking the chance that a) this package will arrive alive and b) that I’ll be too lazy to return or complain about it if it doesn’t.  The only thing this company has going for it is that I can’t remember its name since the package has no discernible brand marking on it… All I see is USPS (which has enough baggage as it is).

Everything your customer receives from you tells a story, whether you like it or not.  Don’t let your mailroom or your fulfillment company determine whether or not it’s a good one.

-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

Hall of Shame #8: Shutterfly, Do Not Bend!

Oh, my beloved Shutterfly, you who keepsafe the images of my beloved children year after year, how it pains me that you are in our Hall of Shame!

Shutterfly Do Not Bend My Memories!

But when I order photos of my children and they arrive in a warped mailer that won’t even sit flat on my kitchen counter, I worry.  I worry that, even though Shutterfly’s packaging tells me “Do Not Bend,” Shutterfly thinks it’s okay to send my photos in a mailer that bends all by itself!  Can’t blame the post office for this one.
Shutterfly used a mailer that lacked the capacity to hold a gusseted envelope of photos inside. This makes it tough to close the flap, and that’s what warps the mailer.  And no, that’s not good for your photos.   Do I need to be that obvious about what variable capacity mailer they should have used instead?
-Sari McConnell at smcconnell@conformerinc.com

Warped Mailer, Not Enough Capacity

Feeding the Soul of Conformer

Inventing radically better products is the soul of Conformer Products, Inc., and our Conformer friends are our inspiration. Every day our conversations with strategic partners, end users, manufacturers and distributors give us insight into the business challenges that our products are solving, which leads us to our next innovation. And we know that our products inspire you towards new growth and success in your business.

We’d like to take this dynamic relationship to the next level. Please add our executive team — Sari McConnell, Bob Makofsky, and Marv Makofsky — to your Linked In network and click “Add to My Network” on the right hand side of the screen…and we promise to accept your invitation!

-Sari McConnell  smcconnell@conformerinc.com

A New Generation of Patented Packaging Solutions