Sustainability Squad

Oct 292015

“Do as I say, not as I do.” That’s not only a poor approach to parenting, but to zero waste as well.
Sustainability Maven Sarah MartinezAt Eco-Products® , we have the privilege of helping organizations keep food scraps out of landfills by using compostable foodservice packaging. Sure, we could help organizations like the Minnesota Twins, Larkburger, and others strive for zero waste without doing it ourselves, but then we wouldn’t be very credible, would we? Walking the talk is simply what we do, so we set a goal in our sustainability report to achieve 90% landfill diversion by 2017.

We monitor our progress by doing annual waste audits (i.e., we dumpster dive) with Eco-Cycle. And what has this taught us? That getting an office to zero waste is not easy. In 2014, we diverted 81% of our materials to recycling or composting; in 2015, that dropped to 75%. Granted, our audit is just a one week snapshot, but we were bummed to move in the wrong direction.

Waste Audit on DisplayTo educate ourselves on how we can get better, we displayed bags of stuff that ended up in the wrong bin – frozen food boxes and paper towels in the recycling, soiled paper in the trash. Having a visual display was powerful. Whose head doesn’t turn when you walk past a bag of weird stuff in the hallway?

This has been a humbling experience. We preach zero waste. It is the mission of our organization, and we haven’t yet gotten there ourselves. However, we recognize sustainability is a journey for everyone, including us. We see an opportunity to learn from this experience and become better able to understand the challenges our customers face.

We have a lot of work to do, but we are committed to getting better. Through increased employee training, more frequent audits, and continuing to stress the importance of our goal and leading by example, we are optimistic about where we are heading. Be sure to check our 2016 Sustainability Report for an update on our progress – coming out around Earth Day!

Aug 112015

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”
   — Rumi

This month's contributor is Savvinista Laureate in absentia Tori RosenbeckerDid you know that to make one ton of paper towels, 17 trees are cut down and 20,000 gallons of water are consumed? And every day over 3,000 tons of paper towel waste is produced in the US alone.

A great alternative to paper towels is re-usable towels:

  • Cleaning the bathroom? Microfiber towels offer a great alternative to using paper towels for cleaning. These can be purchased at most grocery stores and drug stores, and they won’t leave behind fibers or filth on your bathroom surfaces.
  • Spill something in the kitchen? Keep a small stack of rags in a drawer or under the sink, and grab one whenever you need to clean up a mess.
  • Serving dinner? Use cloth napkins. Classy. Functional. Environmentally friendly.
  • Out and about or at work? Bring a handkerchief or a People Towel with you. Did you know that in Japan there are no paper towels or hand dryers in most public restrooms? Everyone carries a small hand towel with them.

Keep in mind – while reusables sound more environmentally friendly than single-use items, that is not always the case. It is important to consider the energy and water that go into manufacturing an item as well as the life and the end of life of the product. To improve the environmental “friendliness” of towels, wash full loads in an energy efficient washing machine and line dry.

If everyone incorporated a few changes to their home and work routine, we could drastically reduce our dependency on disposable paper towels. Be the change.

Did you know that to make one ton of paper towels, 17 trees are cut down and 20,000 gallons of water are consumed?

Jul 132015

Matt Kobzik is our contributor this issueBoulder, Colorado: A city famous for grandiose mountains, amazing culture, and being an epicenter of “green mindedness”. But wait, not so fast! While Boulder may be perceived as a “green” city there are some facts that might surprise you. For example in 2013 single-family homes diverted 48 percent of their waste; in comparison businesses only managed to divert 28 percent1. To raise awareness on this waste diversion issue and to enact change, local waste haulers, inspired residents, and companies like Eco-Products® rallied to pass a universal Zero Waste ordinance.

The ordinance, set to go into effect within a year, will require all property owners of businesses and multi-family units to provide recycling and composting services. This is a huge step for a city that has advocated green but not always practiced the philosophy. It also reflects a major shift in the attitude of residents towards waste and waste diversion.

Boulder is a shining example of community in action with a burgeoning desire for greater environmental consciousness. Though the process to pass the ordinance took several years, the results were well worth the hard work.

For more information go to this Daily Camera article.

1Moorman, R. & Fridland, D. (2015), Boulder Zero Waste Project: Multi-Family Unit Outreach, 2

Boulder City Council Meeting

Supporters rallied, donning green t-shirts, to show their support for the Zero Waste campaign. Boulder City Council unanimously passed the ordinance on June 2nd.

Jul 012015

Lindsey Wohlman is our contributor this issueSummer has arrived! With summer comes music festivals and other large scale events and plenty of big challenges in waste diversion and reduction. Be it baseball stadiums, concert venues, or outdoor festivals we’re seeing lots of examples of positive changes.

Here at Eco-Products® we love a good challenge and we love seeing the creative solutions used to help reduce waste. One such event that has successfully implemented a variety of measures is the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. Their website sums it up perfectly – For more than two decades, Planet Bluegrass has worked to present the finest musical experiences in some of the country’s most magnificent natural environments while striving to reduce our environmental footprint at the same time (

This festival’s reduction programs can be placed into two categories.

Telluride Bluegrass FestivalWaste Reduction
Telluride tackles waste reduction by partnering with several vendors to encourage reusables. They sell Clean Kanteen steel cups at the Bluegrass festival store that can be filled by beer vendors at a discount. Don’t want to buy one? Well the beer tents sell all of their beer in reusable Eco-Products® souvenir cups (which can be refilled at a discount at these same booths). They do not offer any single use cups and in doing so they cut out an entire waste generator. Telluride estimates they save upwards of 75,000 cups from being thrown out just by making this one change of habit.

When it comes time to hydrate, you can fill up your water bottles (or souvenir cups) at one of Telluride’s water stations. All stations provide free filtered water to help keep festivarians hydrated without bringing in bottled water. This has resulted in many food vendors opting to not sell bottled water since water is readily available for free.

Lastly, there’s a vendor wide ban on all plastic bags. This means all purchases must be bagged in cloth bags (or backpacks since everyone is wearing them).

Waste Diversion
Of course you can’t ban all waste. Food vendors still need a way to serve their customer, but Telluride works closely with vendors to ensure what they serve on can be diverted. Telluride is able to divert more than 60% of their festival waste ( by requiring all vendors to use compostable plates and cutlery.

In order for festivarians to divert their waste correctly, Telluride provides a 3 bin system each with their own trained volunteer “trash goalie”. They help concert-goers place their waste in the correct bin (compost, recycling, or trash). Volunteers ensure cleaner waste streams by directing trash disposal and occasionally sorting mis-placed waste (in years past our VP of Marketing Wendell has been known to help out) and in turn get to enjoy the festival when not at work! If you want to volunteer next year, check out this link.

Telluride Waste Solutions