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Whole Foods Market Opens Gorgeous New Store in Oxnard, California

Whole foods oxnard
A line of hungry and excited customers began to form an hour before the grand opening of the new 30,000 square foot Whole Foods Market located at 650 Town Center Drive, Oxnard CA. The smell of fresh BBQ and upbeat music provided by a local favorite, DJ Bruce Barrios, greeted the stores first customers as they hoped to be one of the first 500 in order to receive free baguettes.
Whole foods oxnard 2
Be Green team members Megan and Bryan were met with the same excitement when they arrived to check out the commotion. Beyond the busy bustle of shopping carts, the team was welcomed into what could be described as an ‘organic experience’. The new building, which was built from the ground up, was totally customized to suit Whole Foods needs and it shows. The space features astoundingly high ceilings and incredible amounts of natural light giving shoppers the feeling of being outside, transporting you away from the shopping center locale in which the building is set. The atmosphere allows customers to take their time learning about everything Whole Foods has to offer from organic food to supplements to home care goods.

Whole foods oxnard 3
As Whole Foods Market was Be Green’s first major customer, they will always have a special place in our heart. Be Green attends every Whole foods opening and participates in ways that will be impactful for their team. To show their endless support, Be Green has donated a full month of products to the Oxnard store and is looking forward to supplying Whole Foods with it’s new retail line of plates and bowls in the coming weeks. One percent of proceeds from the new line of products will go to the Whole Planet Foundation, which runs one of the largest microcredit lending non-profits worldwide.

– Bryan Latchford

Zero Waste Packaging: The Coming Revolution in Consumer Packaging

Zero Waste Packaging: The Coming Revolution in Consumer Packaging

The amount of waste the average American generates per year is truly staggering. Statistics suggest that Americans throw out enough paper or plastic cups and utensils every year to circle the equator 300 times. With so much waste generated annually, it is no wonder that many experts are calling for widespread adoption of zero-waste packaging.

But what does zero-waste packaging look like? How important is it for Americans to move away from harmful plastics and chemicals and towards more eco-friendly consumer packaging?

This article will address these important questions and many others through an inside look at the world of consumer packaging.

What Does “Zero-Waste” Mean?

compostAlthough the concept of “zero-waste” has been around since the 1970s, it hasn’t made the shift from theory to practice until recently. In essence, it refers to designing and producing materials so that harmful waste is eliminated from the production model and outputs can be reused for other productive processes. Ideally, the archetypical zero-waste production cycle would mimic natural cycles – where every part of the end product can be reused and nothing goes to waste.

For instance, when a leaf falls from a tree in the forest and eventually dies, it does not become waste. It decomposes and eventually turns into nutrients to help other plants grow. The result is an endless cycle of growth, degeneration, decomposition, and regrowth once more. Implementing zero-waste to its fullest would mean ensuring a product poses a net-benefit to the environment throughout its entire life-cycle – especially towards the end of its lifespan.

Zero-waste has become a cornerstone to many business models and environmental ideas. It is also the central component of the Cradle to Cradle principle developed by William McDonough and Michael Braungart to help business implement closed-loop, zero-waste production systems informed by nature.

The Problem with Normal Packaging

The biggest problem with normal packaging is that it uses materials that are generally damaging to the environment. Materials such as certain plastics, polystyrene foam (styrofoam), and polyvinyl chloride contain harmful chemicals that can leech into the environment, contaminate the ground and water, and adversely affect plant and animal life. And since these products do not readily decompose, large volumes of these harmful materials end up in landfills.

The problem is that packaging is in such widespread use for food and consumer products that large quantities of harmful packaging waste are produced and emitted into the environment every day. The cumulative environmental impact of such harmful waste production is unsustainable and environmentally destructive on a large-scale.

Perhaps the most telling example of the dangers of plastic waste is embodied by the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Right now a giant patch of plastic and toxic waste is circulating in the North Pacific Ocean. It has developed due to plastic waste materials that get caught up in the current and accumulate into one gigantic mass. Although no one knows exactly how large the patch is, some estimates suggest it is 270,000 square miles in size.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is perhaps the biggest indicator that the way we currently approach packaging is environmentally destructive. But there are other smaller patches of plastic and toxic waste accumulating around the world that are causing damage to ecosystems.

The Importance of Zero-Waste Packaging

Life Cycle Diagram_Be Green Packaging
One cannot understate the importance of zero-waste packaging in this day and age. If businesses and individuals embrace eco-friendly packaging for their products and food, we would avoid discharging vast quantities of hazardous waste and chemicals into the environment each year.

Let’s take food packaging as an example.

The typical American eats an average of three meals per day. Every meal usually involves some sort packaging materials, whether it’s the container the food comes in or the utensils used to eat the food. With over 300 million people in the US, all these meals add up to a lot of potential packaging waste. In fact, by weight, 50% of all packaging sales are food packaging.

If businesses and individuals were to consciously embrace food packaging that emits zero-waste, we would achieve a sizeable impact on reducing the volume of harmful materials sent to the landfill.

Plant Fibre Packaging: A Type of Zero-Waste Packaging

As alluded to earlier, plant material is an eligible candidate to create a type of zero-waste packaging. Since most plant material is inherently non-toxic, it poses few risks when disposed of properly. In fact, packaging that is derived 100% from plant fibre can theoretically decompose naturally and provide beneficial nutrients for natural or human-made systems.

It is the material that most closely mimics closed-loop natural systems because it is essentially still in its natural state. The manufacturing process for plant fiber packaging can be accomplished without bleaching or the use of toxic chemicals. Finally, when disposed of properly, it does not become a harmful waste product in the environment as it is possible to compost or recycle in a nearly endless closed-loop. The entire lifespan of a piece of consumer packaging made from plant fiber can be entirely zero-waste when disposed of properly.

The Future of Packaging: Zero-Waste

At the end of the day, we have to live with what we as a society have created.  If we choose to use packaging that doesn’t readily breakdown in a safe and healthy manner in the environment than it is to our own detriment.  At Be Green Packaging our vision for the future is one in which all packaging is designed with its end of life in mind – from sustainable, safe materials that are as close to nature as possible and can seamlessly return to it at the end of its life cycle.


Going Beyond Cradle to Cradle: The Upcycle and the Future of Sustainable Design

The Upcycle – Taking Cradle to Cradle to the Next Level

upcycle book cradle to cradle When William McDonough and Michael Braungart released their book Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way we Make Things in 2002, few could predict their ideas would have such a wide-reaching impact on the world of business. However, the Cradle to Cradle principle provided a much-needed blueprint for companies to incorporate the principles of sustainability into their business models and paved the way for a new certification system based on a products entire life cycle. The book has since been translated into 12 languages and become required reading for numerous college courses based on sustainability.

Nearly ten years after the publication of Cradle to Cradle, McDonough and Braungart have released yet another landmark book called The Upcycle: Beyond Sustainability – Designing for Abundance. Instead of simply rehashing the same ideas presented in the original book, they have taken the Cradle to Cradle philosophy and expanded it even further: rather than simply protect the planet from human impact, we should redesign economic development so that it improves the planet.

But before delving too much into their latest offering, let’s take a look at McDonough and Braungart themselves and how their environmental ideas eventually came to fruition.

Who Are William McDonough and Michael Braungart?

In the early 1990s, Bill McDonough was a successful American architect with a particular interest in ecological design. Michael Braungart was a German chemist who studied industrial production processes and co-founded the chemistry section of Greenpeace. When the two met in 1991 at an Environmental Protection Encouragement Agency reception in New York, they realized that by combining their expertise, they could lead the charge for sustainable industrial design.

They published their first book, Hannover Principles of Design: Design for Sustainability, in 1991. It set out some of their initial ideas on designing buildings and products with environmental and social sustainability in mind. Then in 1995 they established McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC), a firm dedicated to helping companies implement ecologically-minded design principles in their business models.

Finally, after more than ten years getting their hands dirty in the world of environmental design, they decided to distill all their knowledge into a comprehensive new book – a book which later became known as Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way we Make Things

Cradle to Cradle – From Conception to Certification

cradle-to-cradle-coverThe title of their book is derived from the “Cradle to Cradle” concept, which is the idea that production systems should be modeled after natural systems. As such, all the materials used in production should be viewed as nutrients circulating in a closed loop cycle mimicking how nature operates. Therefore, no waste should be generated. Instead, the output from production should consist only of materials that can either be reused in the system or that pose no negative impact when released into the environment.

However, one of the key components of incorporating the Cradle to Cradle concept in business models is that by eliminating waste, a company can actually save money. Therefore, the Cradle to Cradle concept can be both environmentally and economically beneficial.

McDonough and Braungart eventually decided to take the Cradle to Cradle concept further by devising a certification system with which to rank and evaluate products.

Much like LEED certification ranks the sustainability of buildings, Cradle to Cradle certification ranks products in terms of their environmental and social sustainability. In order to achieve certification, a product must meet the minimum criteria in five categories: material health, material reutilization, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social benefits. Once a product achieves the minimum requirements, it is given one of five rankings, ranging from basic to platinum based on how well that product promotes an ideal Cradle to Cradle world.

The Cradle to Cradle certification system has now become a prestigious rating system for companies at the forefront of sustainability.

The Upcycle: The Next Generation of Cradle to Cradle

Given that 10 years have now elapsed since the publication of Cradle to Cradle, one can imagine that McDonough and Braungart have had some time to expand on their initial sustainability principles. Unsurprisingly, they still espouse modelling business models after natural systems to ensure zero-waste production.

However, at the forefront of The Upcycle is the idea that business models should actually work to improve the planet, rather than just reuse resources with greater efficiency. Rather than consider one life of a product, businesses should consider the next five lives of a product.

Therefore “zero-waste” is the bare minimum companies should work towards when designing production systems. By actually improving the environment through production, both economic development and the natural environment can flourish.

Of course one does not often encounter such an optimistic approach in the environmental literature these days. But McDonough and Braungart present a convincing argument that the principles presented in Upcycle can achieve widespread adoption. The book is filled with numerous inspiring examples of how companies have taken the Cradle to Cradle principle to the next level while improving both the environment and their bottom line.

In the end, the Cradle to the Cradle principle is not some abstract scientific theory that looks better on paper than it does in practice. More and more companies are receiving Cradle to Cradle certification as technology improves and consumers demand greener products.

This demand for greener products has especially become apparent in the food packaging industry, which is often criticized for its wastefulness and neglect for the environment.

Be Green Packaging is the first food packaging company to achieve a Cradle to Cradle certification.

Panama Goes Green With Cuquita Cookita Cuisine

Just a few short months after we launched our online store, we received an order from Panama out of the blue.  This piqued our curiosity and so we did a little digging to discover just who was behind the plant fiber packaging demand down by the equator… what we found blew us away!

Enter Cuquita Cookita  — a gorgeously executed, innovative  “…business dreamed, created and managed by women who are conscious about the environment and how our choices affect it.” (that’s a direct quote from Cuquita Calvo, one of the visionaries behind Cookita) So committed, in fact, that they import Be Green Packaging’s utility and sushi trays to hold and transport their culinary creations.

Cuquita Cookita tray

Led by renowed Panamanian Chef Cuquita Calvo, patrons can customize their meals from a daily selection of salads, carvings and side dishes to enjoy at the beautiful and tastefully decorated restaurant or on the go at their own convenience. Their gourmet meals are prepeared with the finest local ingredients in truly sustainable plant fiber packaging.

little girl cuquita cookita

It’s always inspiring to hear pioneering stories of eco-conscious entrepreneurs like the ladies behind Cuquita Cookita and the lengths that they will go to execute their vision and stay in alignment with their environmental and socially conscious ideals.

cuquita cookita to go bag
You can learn more about Cuquita Cookita at their website here: Cuquita Cookita

If you’re in Panama, make sure to stop by and check them out!

Be Green Celebrates Earth Day 2013 Across the Country

It’s that time of year again — Spring is in the air and as nature renews itself, we all collectively come together to celebrate Earth Day in its honor.

Santa Barbara, California

On the West coast of the US in Santa Barbara, CA, Megan Havrda, who is both the Be Green Packaging Eco Advisory Board Chairwoman and a member of the Community Environmental Council (an innovative, SB-local, environmentally focsed non-profit) joined the CEC in celebrating the work, life and career of Van Jones, a notable sustainability and environmental advocate.  Jones is widely known for his role as Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, among other things in his distinguished, activist career.

van jones megan havrda earth hero award cec

Jones visited the Santa Barbara region to accept an award bestowed by the CEC in honor of his tireless work promoting environmentally conscious values in his incredible career as a thought leader and eco-social activist.

earth day santa barbara 2013

Bluffton, South Carolina

On the other side of the country, the Be Green South Carolina team celebrated Earth Day with Experience Green, a Beaufort county, SC local non-profit focused on engaging the community in sustainable environmental and social practices.  Like the CEC, Experience Green puts on an incredible Earth Day festival and celebration to raise awareness about all things green and good.

earth day south carolina 2013

Be Green had a booth at this years event and got to meet and engage much of the local community.

be green earth day south carolina 2013

Lucky Bolt Takes Sustainable Food to the Next Level With Bikes and Be Green Packaging – Forbes Magazine Takes Notice

Lucky Bolt Sticker RedSan Francisco has always been a forward thinking, innovative community and has consistently lead the charge in the green movement way back since the era of conservationists like Sierra Club founder John Muir.  And today, Muir would be proud of the city’s legacy that is embodied by urban-sustainable food startup Lucky Bolt.

Lucky Bolt was founded by visionary Kristopher Schlesser, who saw an opportunity to take food delivery to the next level by using bikes to deliver meals and compostable, recyclable, plant-fiber packaging to carry the food.  Instead of waiting for restaurants to make the switch, Kristopher made it for them by buying the packaging himself and then selling it to restaurants at cost.

The Lucky Bolt concept is taking off and big names are taking notice — we received word that Forbes Magazine just ran a story on Lucky Bolt, their focus on sustainability and their choice to use Be Green Packaging as a central part of their business.

Read the Forbes article on Lucky Bolt + Be Green Packaging by Clicking Here

lucky bike


Cradle to Cradle Explained: A Simple Visual Guide to Understanding How it Works and Why it Matters

The environmental movement has come quite a long ways since its activist roots in the 1960’s.  The ideas of conservation, sustainability, and green living are no longer considered the realm of ‘tree-hugging hippies’, but valid, highly relevant concepts in a society struggling to cope with its over reliance on fossil fuels and destructive environmental practices, which are having very real and obviously detrimental effects on our quality of life.  The question now has become: how fast can we embrace these environmental ideals and transform our society to avoid any type of large scale cataclysm?  This has led to the widespread recognition of the importance of these concepts and a new, re-invigorated environmental movement has formed that is asking everyone to do their part — be they soccer mom or Fortune 500 company.  While it is important for us to take collective responsibility for our actions, the fact of the matter is that business and industry account for over 90% of pollution and waste generated on the planet — and companies are feeling the pressure to adopt environmentally sound practices and products growing by the day.

Green Goes Mainstream

If you haven’t already noticed, ‘green’ products are IN.  While this is great and it’s spurring a whole new wave of enthusiasm for sustainable design and imaginative solutions to our worlds most pressing problems, its also become a marketing frenzy with companies constantly touting the ‘green’ features of their latest products — whether or not they have actually made any changes at all or are just ‘spinning’ how their polluting, wasteful product is presented.  This is known as ‘greenwashing’.  Greenwashing is a practice engaged in by companies wishing to get in on the thriving ‘green renaissance’ without actually doing anything green.  Greenwasher’s will do nothing to change their environmentally or socially harmful product or behavoir but still try to market it as eco-friendly, healthy, or in some way sustainable.  The biggest example of this deception that comes to mind involves food labelled as ‘natural’, which, while it sounds good to the consumer, is a totally unregulated term that essentially has zero meaning.  Companies who claim their products are natural can and may still use Genetically Modified ingredients, which last time I checked involved using a ‘gene gun’ to splice bacterial DNA fragments into otherwise healthy plants so they would have a ‘supernatural’ ability to resist extraordinary levels of synthetic, toxic pesticides and herbicides.  Yup, totally natural.

How Can We Tell What Products and Practices are Truly Green?

Greenwashing is a big problem and it relies heavily on an uneducated population — but how are we supposed to know if every claim on every product on the shelves is true?  We are literally inundated with 100’s of products on a daily basis all making some kind of claim as to their healthfulness, sustainability, or some other fantastic quality showing that they are indeed the best thing yes to happen to the environment.  The problem is that some of them are truly amazing, innovative products, while others are totally trying to greenwash you into believing they are doing something meaningful and responsible.  I received my degree in Environmental Studies and sometimes I even have trouble telling what’s what — so how can we expect the average consumer to know the difference between a truly green product and its greenwashing counterpart?  Simple: Certifications.

Understanding the Role of Certifications in Protecting the Consumer and the Planet

One of the best ways to help consumers instantly identify and recognize truly green products is through the use of certifications.  Certifications alert us through the use of an official logo or seal that a product has undergone testing, review, or monitoring at the hands of an independent organization to ensure that the claims being made about its healthfulness or sustainability are true.   Certification bodies provide a method to objectively evaluate products in a way that gives an accurate representation of their true eco-social merits.  In the food industry, the USDA and CCOF Organic seal’s are perhaps the best known of these types of certifications — but what about for household products, packaging, or furniture?  How do we evaluate the sustainability of these types of goods?

The Cradle to Cradle CertifiedCM Products Program

In that regard, perhaps the most respected, stringent worldwide organization for certification of everyday products is the Cradle to Cradlecm Products Innovation Institute.

The Cradle to Cradle Certifiedcm program provides a high level of transparency into a company’s affairs by allowing an independent, 3rd party organization to review product design, manufacturing facilities, and processes in order to provide feedback on areas that may need improvement or adjustment.  If a company meets or exceeds the institute’s standards, a certification is awarded according to varying levels of achievement along a continuum.

The  Cradle to Cradle Certifiedcm standard is based on the principles outlined by Dr. Michael Braungart and William McDonough in their seminal book ”Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things”, which laid the framework for reassessing how we view a products life cycle.  According to C2CPII literature, a “Cradle to Cradle Certification is a multi-attribute eco-label that assesses a product’s safety to humans and the environment and design for future life cycles.”  Products (and the associated manufacturing processes) must meet or exceed a series of standards that assess applications in the following five areas: material health, material reutilization, energy (renewables usage, conservation), water stewardship, and social responsibility

If you are an environmental scientist or industry engineer, that description is clear as day, but for the rest of us, it might leave you scratching your head a bit.  In order to help those non-technical individuals looking to better understand exactly what a Cradle to Cradlecm certification entails, we have put together the following info graphic to help explain the concept in a more accessible way.

(Click for a larger image)

Cradle to Cradle Philosophy Explained

Article by Justin Faerman

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Be Green Packaging designs, manufactures and distributes Cradle to Cradle™ certified, tree-free, compostable packaging for the food and consumer packaging industries that is safe for people and healthy for the planet.

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About Be Green Packaging

Be Green Packaging designs, manufactures and distributes Cradle to Cradle™ certified, tree-free, compostable packaging for the consumer packaging industries that is safe for people and healthy for the planet.