The Green Giants
It’s our planet. It’s our home. And it’s a big topic these days, going green. From canning incandescent light bulbs to making your toner cartridges last to recycling and reusing paper, the buzz about going green is catching on and corporations are taking notice.
Yet, it is not enough for large corporations to take heed and start improving our eco-statistics. Even smaller companies can do their part to reduce the waste and harm that is being done to our home today.
Did you know that the amount of wood and paper we throw away each year is enough to heat 50 million homes for 20 years?1 Incredible numbers.
Or how about the figures of Americans throwing away 25 billion Styrofoam coffee cups every year, and 2.5 million plastic beverage bottles every hour?2 To understand what that means, take a single Styrofoam cup. Ingenious invention – it keeps coffee hot, and it keeps your sodas cold. But despite its ambidextrous attribute, one cup contains one billion, billion molecules of CFCs (Chlorofluorocarbons) — that’s 1,000,000,000,000,000,000! Chlorofluorocarbons have been found to pose a serious environmental threat and studies undertaken by various scientists during the 1970s revealed they had a deleterious effect on the ozone layer.3
We love making things last, but what are we doing to make this planet last?
Never fear, more and more American companies are participating. Witness Fortune 500 companies such as Wal-Mart and Pacific Gas & Electric. Both are publicly owned companies traded on the New York Stock Exchange. While both companies may have had trouble in the past (PG&E exposed by Erin Brockovich; Wal-Mart’s fifty-seven class action lawsuits in forty-one states4) both are currently working toward bettering the environment and their customers.
In 2006, PG&E signed plans with Luz II, LLC, to purchase at least 500 MW of solar energy beginning in the spring of 2010. And according to PG&E’s environmental communications manager, in addition to investing $1 million to offset its offices’ carbon emissions, the company plans to mount solar panels on the roof of corporate headquarters and invest another 6% in renewable energy sources.5
Wal-Mart, after their murky waters with employment discrimination issues has spent the last year trying to overhaul its reputation. Wal-Mart has done an impressive job infiltrating going green into its image, already making an impressive dent. To their credit, Wal-Mart now has an entire webpage dedicated to alternative energy products, clothing and appliances. Also on the site are statistics by state about the adoption of certain energy-efficient and environmentally friendly products and habits.
On the smaller corporate side, you have two privately companies. Both are little engines that could when looking at what they’re doing for the earth and its residents. While neither PostcardMania nor TerraCycle are of the same magnitude in size, income, etc. as the other two, it’s clear that they’re pushing hard to do their parts.
The direct mail postcard marketing company, PostcardMania, along with the worm-poop-recycling, organic fertilizer TerraCycle, are both smaller companies that are expanding at a rapid rate while trying to do what they can for the environment and their customers.
PostcardMania, started by CEO Joy Gendusa just nine years ago with no start up capital, has risen at an accelerated rate since the day the doors opened. In 2005, PostcardMania won a spot on the prestigious Inc. 500 list. Two years ago Gendusa decided to take it up a notch and switched to printing the postcards on New Leaf Paper’s 10% post-consumer waste (recycled) paper, despite the rise in annual cost.
By absorbing the higher cost ($50K in 2005, $65K in 2006; $85K in 2007) yet keeping the price the same for her customers, Gendusa said she felt industry leaders needed to set a better example today. She swallowed the cost herself with hopes other business owners would take notice and realize the importance of doing the maximum they could, whether they were large or small. The results? PostcardMania’s recycling program at her manufacturing facility has been able to recycle 2,931,700 pounds of paper equating to 1,465 tons which equates to 24,905 trees saved since August 2005. And their combined recycling projects have saved over 30,000 trees to date. Even though PostcardMania’s volume is not at the level of the Sunday Edition of the New York Times where just one Sunday print run would save 75,000 trees if printed on recycled paper, it deserves notice.
“I feel that industry leaders need to set an example. The game isn’t always about how much money you can save, it’s about what you can do for the environment, for people and the world at large.” said Gendusa when asked why she was so adamant about this issue.
TerraCycle, Inc.’s cofounder and CEO Tom Szaky seems to have similar thoughts. This company has been called the ultimate in eco-capitalism, a just title. Szaky was one of two students at Princeton in 2001 with a dream: a company could be financially successful while being ecologically and socially responsible. Co-founders Tom Szaky and Jon Beyer were determined to turn their concept into a real-life, commercially viable process.
TerraCycle Plant Food is the first product made from and packaged in waste.6 Made from worm poop gotten from worms that feed on garbage, the all-natural, organic plant food is packaged in recycled soda bottles. Even the boxes the products are shipped in are recycled, coming from misprinted boxes from other companies. In order to get the recycled soda bottles, they run drives and fundraisers at schools across the nation, giving the school $0.05 per bottle to buy new supplies, remodel, etc.
Not only is the plant food safe around kids and pets, but it’s shown to grow plants better and faster. What other proof of how helpful this product is do you need?
While PostcardMania and TerraCycle might not be able to put out the amount of money as PG&E and Wal-Mart, the ratio of size and effort put forth puts these in the same league. If more companies did what these companies were doing, the world would be a better, and greener, place.
Karla Jo Helms is the Vice President Public Relations for PostcardMania, named one of the fastest growing privately-owned companies Inc Magazine. PostcardMania is a full service postcard direct mail marketing company which includes graphic design, printing, highly-targeted mailing list acquisition and mailing services with FREE marketing advice. They help small businesses all over the country to expand through the use of direct mail marketing techniques. Visit their web site at www.postcardmania.com