Sunday, April 05, 2009

Junkk washes greener?

I've shared them, and the story, before, but in the spirit of positivity and 'as one door closes...' I think it's worth doing so again.

You're looking at the 'brochure'.

Roughly lifesize, this little... very little... piece of printing was the result of an encounter with a passionate environmentalist, and has turned into one of our more successful promotional tools, especially in combo with the Vac:Sac (I get stopped and asked what it's all about... and produce a card. And, if I am lucky, the recipient does turn it into a passport-sized picture frame - mine is in its 4th year protecting the boys' images - that is also a wallet-borne promo for in everyone's pocket... especially when presenting said picture of loved ones and then, hopefully, asked about the frame).

Anyhoo, the first flyer outing was not so successful, an A5 card, and I paid the price. I was at some show and this bloke barrelled up waving it and demanded... 'Is this made from recycled paper!!!!?' Erk. I didn't know. I doubted it. As I had to get it done fast, and cheap. Not the ideal environment for the, um, ideal environment to be specified, waited for... or afforded. Especially when trying to share a whole stand of lovely reuse ideas to a bunch of folk now much more interested in this piece of paper being waved about.

So I determined to resolve this to avoid such confrontations. Hence the pocket picture frame came to be. And, months later, the guy did re-appear, and did again raise his voice, and ire, in challenge.

Only this time, mid-flow I quietly and politely (well, as you can) interrupted and said 'It's better than recyclable... it's reusable, which is even higher on the 're-hierarchy', and better for the planet'. The appreciation of the audience for this solution felt good. Oddly, the man in question seemed even angrier, but left, muttering. Can't please everyone, all of the time.

I was minded of the opportunities of aspects of this when reading a fellow eco-blogger's post the other day...

Ecover packaging - is it really recyclable? (where facilities exist, perhaps)

The key here is in the bracket, as a brand or retailer, while still a major part of the process, is still very much at the hands of our fragmented recycling collection and processing systems around the UK.

You can do all you can (as such as ecover and Innocent I truly believe are trying to do), but at the end of the day... not all that is green can be black or white. Or, in this case, make recyclable as easily in one county, or even town, as another (witness ours, where a great home kerbside/public space skip, segregated waste collection combo is being scrapped in favour of a single green wheelie that sends all your waste in a black plastic bag to a remote MRF to, one fears, produce box-ticking but possibly less than industry-desired recyclate. Hardly great for my kids' futures, and hence a real enviROI eyebrow-cranking target for me).

Far be it from me to 'defend' a brand that uses plastic, or indeed any other packaging, but I do tend to accept more than others that, in a modern, consumerist, growing population, time-poor, work-from-home separated, etc, etc, society, that some has to be inevitable, for logistics alone, and for the environment even, especially with protection issues. Hence I am more interested in and devote my time to uses, or rather resues, more than bans, though reductions in unnecessary areas are of course desirable.

And ecover, bless 'em, could hardly do more, though much of what they do get up to can get shared in a way that does bring them under perhaps more scrutiny than others. A higher standard and all that. But in a world where making things green often does add a cost penalty, and a cost penalty can lead to poorer competitiveness, especially on the shelves, so much of their CSR, from green-roofed factories to the actual contents of their products, does suggest going as an extra a mile (well, kilometer... they are based in Belgium I think) as is possible in a credit-crunchy era. Especially when I suspect all most now want, or are having to weigh up between pocket and planet, is whiter whites for the least money, rather than just the greenest ones.

But these things do need discussing, and debating, so I felt the urge to try at least to point out one area that was eyebrow cranked by one (the author), not answered by another (the ecover PR lady) but actually was in part addressed already(ecover and

I won't repeat my reply (actually two now) as it's in the thread on the link, but I hope it shows a real attempt to see the merits of what can often two very polarised views - that of manufacturer and campaigner - and try to navigate to a positive compromise that can satisfy some (if not all), and lead to dialogues that can make for better future solutions.

Now, where is Tesco's number?