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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

By: Sara Mason
Posted: September 3, 2009, from the September 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.
  • Going green and increasing sustainability require a strategic plan.
  • Perceived excess product packaging that consumers throw away is the number-one anti-environment packaging habit to avoid.
  • Engaging consumers in a sustainability effort—offering rewards for returning used packaging, for example—both builds the brand/consumer relationship and aids in meeting corporate green goals.

Eco-conscious consumers want to purchase high-integrity products in packaging that reflects their desire to help the environment. They also demonstrate greater loyalty to environmentally and socially responsible brands, even in challenging economic times. “Answering their call for green products is good for business—and the planet,” said Dean Maune, executive director package development, Aveda.

Bath and body brands that want to be more green have to put a strategic plan together. People are much more critical of environmental claims now than they were in the past. “Do your homework,” said JoAnn Hines, packaging consultant. “What do you want out of your package? As you begin to understand your product and who is buying it, you will discover there is not any one answer for every company.”

But with consumer awareness continuing to rise, marketers are driven to seek greener ways to accomplish their mission. Until the day comes that all products are packaged in equally affordable, durable, biodegradable packaging, marketers are taking steps they can in the right direction. They are making choices to reduce, reuse, recycle and re-purpose packaging to reinforce an eco-conscious philosophy without sacrificing functionality or quality.

Reduce

Perceived excess product packaging that consumers throw away is the number-one anti-environment packaging habit to avoid, according to Hines. In response, more companies are reducing packaging. Doing so also helps to avoid unnecessary expenses, not a small matter in today’s economy. Origins’ folding cartons, for example, are not only made from 80% PCR paper, but they are produced with wind power. The 20% that is virgin paper comes from forests that are Forest Stewardship Council members. Making even one of those changes makes an eco-friendly impact that can translate to gains with consumers.