Posts Tagged ‘Sustainable Products’

Zero Waste Lunches: Tiffin Sets for Seventh Generation

June 21, 2010

The zero waste lunch sets pictured above were supplied by Fairware to Seventh Generation as gifts for their broker sales force. Featuring an embroidered cotton carry bag, engraved stainless steel tiffin tin and reusable bamboo cutlery, the sets were well aligned with the company’s image and focus on sustainability.

Seventh Generation is committed to being the most trusted brand of authentic, safe, and environmentally-responsible cleaning and personal care products for a healthy home, with a mission to “inspire a more conscious and sustainable world by being an authentic force for positive change.” Jeffrey Hollender, the company’s executive chairman, co-founder and chief inspired protagonist, just co-wrote a book on a new era of corporate responsibility which is receiving great reviews. Given Seventh Generation’s reputation, we were pretty excited to work with them and it resulted in some beautiful and useful products.

Each tiffin set included the label pictured above. Printed on re-purposed Seventh Generation pocket folders, the imprint was achieved with a custom made rubber stamp designed by local artist Abby Manock.

Tiffin sets are only starting to become popular in North America but they’ve been used in India for ages. Here’s a fascinating article on the dabbawallas that deliver home cooked tiffin lunches to office workers across Mumbai daily. Each lunch is packed in a tiffin tin similar to those featured here.

Looking for a stylish zero waste gift or give-away? Check out our website or contact us for a product tailored to your company’s needs.

Pine Beetle Wood – Innovative Uses

June 9, 2010

Flickr / vsmoothe

British Columbia’s Mountain Pine Beetle infestation is the largest Canada has seen. By 2016 it’s estimated that  65% of the marketable pine wood in the B.C. interior will have died as a result of the outbreak. And 40% of the interior’s forests are pine! Serious damage is being incurred by the forest industry and local communities as well as to the biodiversity and carbon storage capacity of the forests.

How the Beetles Work

Pine beetles lay eggs under the bark of mature lodgepole pines. The beetles introduce a bluestain fungus into the sapwood of the tree that prevents the tree from repelling and killing the attacking beetles with pitch flow. It also blocks water and nutrient translocation within the tree. The joint action of larval feeding and fungal colonization kills the host tree within a few weeks of successful attack (the fungus and feeding by the larvae girdles the tree cutting off the flow of water and nutrients).

The mountain pine beetle is a natural element of British Columbia’s interior pine forests. Normally, cold temperatures, forest fires and natural predators keep populations in check. However, an abundance of mature lodgepole pine combined with recent mild winters and uncharacteristically hot, dry summers have led to an unprecedented infestation.

Forestry Innovation Investment Ltd.

Recognizing a mandate under the government of BC’s Mountain Pine Beetle Action Plan, the Forestry Innovation Investment Ltd. (FII) is focused on developing new product uses and markets for Mountain Pine Beetle wood. We were thrilled when they approached Fairware for pine beetle wood USB drives. Engraved with the naturally wood logo, they were the perfect promotional item for the organization.

Interested in USB drives for your organization? We have an entire collection to choose from. Contact us about custom products like the beetle wood USB drives pictured below. Read more about great products we’ve done for other clients HERE.

Sustainable Purchasing & Eco-Labels

May 16, 2010

Flickr / schizoform

A couple weeks ago I attended a Metro Vancouver Community Sustainability Breakfast. The focus of this month’s session was sustainable purchasing and eco-labels. Metro Vancouver did a great job in selecting speakers. The panel featured Trevor Bowden from Big Room Inc., Tim Reeve of Reeve Consulting and Bob Purdy from the Fraser Basin Council.

Ecolabelling.org

The session started with a ‘big picture’ description of eco-labels by Trevor Bowden. Big Room Inc. is the creator of ecolabelling.org, a website which hosts a database of all the eco-labels available on the marketplace. It’s a really helpful, free tool which anyone can use to look up a specific eco-label and find out the type of products it covers, the length of time its been in existence, how products are verified, links to additional resources and more. Basically it allows visitors to judge eco-labels on a variety of merits, and determine which programs are in line with their concerns.

So many eco-labels to consider…

Given the great number and range of eco-labels currently in action (ecolabelling.org tracks more than 300 different programs!) Trevor suggested breaking them down into categories based on the number of environmental attributes and life cycle phases a label covers. Energy Star, for example, is considered a single stage, single issue label since it looks at consumer use of a product and the amount of energy the item consumes. Ecologo on the other hand is a multi-stage, multi-issue label since it examines the manufacture, use and disposal of products and a variety of environmental attributes.

When choosing an eco-label, a good starting point is considering what the largest impacts of a given product will be. For example, with a new computer, certified sustainable packaging isn’t nearly as valuable as a logo recognizing low energy consumption or clean production.

Characteristics of a good eco-logo

To further simplify your eco-logo choices, Trevor shed some light on the characteristics of good ones, including:

  1. Independent 3rd party verification of claims – A party other than the manufacturer or certifying body has verified the claims. A study from Yale University showed the most trusted eco-labels are validated by environmental groups. Not surprisingly, the least trusted are validated by industry.
  2. Life-cycle based – The entire life of the product is considered
  3. An open and  transparent standard development process
  4. Publicly available standards

An additional characteristic Trevor raised is the level to which an eco-label is “future proof”, meaning that as new standards and science develops, the eco-label is able to adapt and change.

The International Standard Organization (ISO) has put together a group of standards for governing environmental labeling. You can read more about it on the ISO website.

Eco-labels for purchasers

While these guidelines and tools are helpful, without a deep understanding of the field and exposure to constant updates, it can still be tricky to choose an eco-logo program that represents your organization’s needs.

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10 Tips for Setting up a Merchandise Program for your NGO

April 21, 2010

flickr/nataliemaynor

We often get calls from non-profits wanting to get branded products (“merchandise”) to sell as fundraisers. It’s a great idea in theory, but like most things in life, reality can be cruel. We’ve crafted a list of 10 things to consider before launching into a merchandise program to help smooth the bumps along the way.

These points are designed for organizations considering merchandise sales – either directed at end consumers (retail style sales) or directed at internal buyers (e.g. setting up a bulk purchasing program for your different chapters or departments).

You might not have all the answers to the questions posed below – BUT between your organization and the merchandising partner you choose, make sure you  have all the answers or you’re bound to hit a few hurdles along the way.

1. Define the Purpose of the Program

  • Identify the primary and secondary purpose of the program. For example, is the program designed to generate revenue, build brand awareness, build your contact list, or to consolidate purchasing to pass on savings to your end buyers?
  • Caution: Many organizations start out with visions of their merchandise program being a significant revenue generator for their organization – and are often disappointed at the results. Some good planning will help set realistic targets and ID secondary benefits at the outset so you can meet the outcomes you set.

2. Create a Business Case

  • Do the math. Sounds simple but it’s a critical step that many people miss. If you purchase a t-shirt for $8.00 and sell it for $20.00 you make $12.00, right? Actually, no, you don’t. You need to account for the time put into setting up the program, design time for graphics, time or $ spent ‘picking and packing’ (getting a product packed and shipped), hosting fees if the store is online, etc. Understand that the time for a return on investment may be longer than expected.
  • Assess your systems. Do you have an online merchant account to accept payment? Do you know the tax laws as they relate to selling merchandise or accepting donations on a website? Think through the details, sweat the small stuff.

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Shanghai’d – Day 4 New Sewing Factory

January 7, 2010

Suggestion box for worker complaints

Day 4 found me at a new bag sewing facility we plan on working with near Shanghai. It’s run by Jorden Rosenberg, a Canadian guy (from Forest Hill Collegiate, like a # of the guys I seem to be meeting here) and it was great to see the Chinese and Canadian flags flying high at the entrance of his facility. I planned my trip to both check out his products and facility and meet the auditor from Openview, who we had arranged to audit the facility.

Jordan runs a great factory and difference between this facility and the one at Huaitai was immediately noticeable. The scale of the operation is much larger but the sophistication of their production processes was of a different standard. In addition to the bag workshop Jordan also runs Motherwear, a women’s maternity wear online retailer (check it out for fabulous bamboo and other products) and manages production for that line in his facility.

The facility was well laid out, with clear signage vis a vis fire safety and first aid. The attention to detail on the quality control front was impressive and they were working for major brands from all over North America and Europe. (more…)


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