Green Gifts for an Environmentally-conscientious Holiday
Sunday, November 14th, 2010

As the sizzling temperatures begin to subside and the cooler seasons start to show, the coming of another holiday season is in the minds of many shoppers. Finding the right gifts each year can be a challenging pursuit, and one that warrants a great deal of time and thoughts, especially when the most meaningful presents are sought out for friends and family. In many ways, Christmas and other winter holidays bring out the best in people, encouraging kindness and a giving spirit. It’s in this atmosphere that environmental friendliness can easily find itself at home, and indeed, many people are choosing to incorporate the spirit of the green lifestyle into their holiday celebrations. But what sorts of gifts are right for eco-friendly giving?

Green gifts may range from the simple to the truly extravagant, though many of the most treasured are also the most useful. Highly effective green products, such as reusable bags, are also especially cost-effective and can make it easy to surprise several members of any holiday gift list. Often, reusable shopping bags are associated with poorly-made or unattractive models that are covered with branding for a particular store or otherwise might seem like strange choices for meaningful gift giving. With Ecozuri’s fashionable reusable bags, however, there’s no obtrusive branding or poor craftsmanship to detract from the utility and style of the bags themselves, so users can simply enjoy their shopping and show off their care for the planet.

Fun and functional packages make Ecozuri bags a great option for gift-givers with plenty of important people on their lists. Full sets for families, along with smaller sets that include a choice of chic colors for reflecting a loved one’s personal tastes allow for a variety of gifts capable of pleasing everyone with an eye for the environmentally conscientious. The bags are easily folded into a pocket or purse and can be washed to keep them clean and bright. While Ecozuri’s bags make great gifts to feel good about all on their own, they can also add some extra holiday cheer through their connection to a good cause. Ten percent of Ecozuri’s proceeds go towards the support of educational projects in East Africa, helping kids lead richer and fuller lives. Though they’re bound to be empty from time to time, Ecozuri bags are often full of the holiday spirit.

Just wash it
Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

There are too much buzzes on the internet about bacteria on reusable bags these days. Some even suggest that we should go back to the world of plastics and paper legitimately because of the fear for bacteria. I am puzzled. To me, this is a very simple issue to fix – just wash the bags. Get a set of washable bags so that you can switch them frequently. Put the used ones in the washable machine and pack the clean and fresh ones with you for the next shopping trip. We do not avoid or throw away clothes because they can get dirty, we just wash them; nor should we avoid or throwaway the reusable bags.

To avoid the risks of bacteria breeding was exactly the reason why Ecozuri insisted to make our bags machine washable. When we observed many existing reusable bags in the market are actually not washable or very difficult to dry, we decided to make our bags differently. We tested multiple fabrics and even settled at the 100% recycled PET Repreve product from Unifi. The fabric is sturdy, light weight, machine washable with low temperature and dries very quickly. We believe 3-in-1 and 6-in-1 bag sets are more practical for families because reusable bags, like clothes, are meant to be washed and changed when they are soiled so multiple of them are necessary.

At Ecozuri, we always image a lifestyle that we all change and wash our reusable bags frequently, just like changing and washing our dresses, our towels, or our table clothes. We also like to consider reusable bags are part of our outfits. So we choose the ones with the right colors and styles with care, from the cleaned, washed, folded bags in the drawer every day.

Machine Washable Reusable Bags – No More Bacteria Breeding Ground
Friday, October 1st, 2010

     When consumers become concerned over the impact of plastics on the environment, one of the first and easiest steps towards making a difference is switching to reusable bags. Yet these bags have come under fire lately as controversy over the potential for bacteria growth along with various molds and yeasts heats up online and in local communities. Deciding that personal health has to come before eco-friendly initiatives, many people have chosen to stop taking reusable bags along with them to the mall or the grocery store. Unfortunately, this has led to many re-adoptions of wasteful, disposable plastic or paper bags, and the push for major change among consumers through the use of recycled materials has taken a considerable hit. For those still hoping to cut down on personal waste, however, there’s a simple way to avoid the path back to disposable bags.

     Traditionally, reusable pages are made from PP non-woven materials, resulting in cotton/paper-like bags that are soft to the touch, and often this material is laminated to achieve a more hardy surface. These bags are usually crinkly and are not recommended for machine washing. When cheap and difficult-to-wash materials are used, bags can be breeding grounds for bacteria and various other organisms, especially in the presence of spills and leaks.

The answer, however, is not to switch back to flimsy plastic bags that are simply thrown out after use, but to try reusable bags that are made from easily washable materials. Ecozuri’s line of environmentally-friendly bags (www.ecozuri.com) is machine washable and easy to dry. Moreover, their bag is manufactured from recycled polyester, making them more effective against waste and pollution than other washable bags, and providing users with the ability to simply throw them in with the laundry now and then.

     A great green product should not only benefit the environment, but should bring a greater degree of convenience and well-being to the lives of its users. Ecozuri’s reusable bags achieve both targets, bearing benefits both for individual users and for the great planet on which they live. When materials are chosen intelligently and with a sense of duty to the earth, products that truly have an effect on environmental efforts can be produced. From the insistence on recycled polyester rather than virgin materials to the incorporation of fashion-forward colors and sensible storage, Ecozuri’s bags are the perfect solution for shoppers who want to do their part for the planet without risking their health.

ECO awareness is growing: is your company ready to take advantage of this emerging trend?
Monday, August 16th, 2010

Research conducted by Canada’s Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food, estimates that the United States green consumer market has an estimated 35 million consumers. This $228.9 billion industry shows no sign of slowing its growth and offers an excellent opportunity for expansion to companies that are currently implementing a green marketing campaign or who are considering entering the market.

As more and more industries embrace the burgeoning eco-friendly trend towards sustainable business practices, packaging, and energy conservation, so too does consumer willingness to adopt environmentally friendly green habits. One way for businesses to position themselves within this growing segment is through the adoption of green or eco-friendly promotional products into their advertising and marketing campaigns

California based Ecozuri, manufactures a wide range of stylish eco-friendly bags that are economical while still offering a high-quality, unique marketing solution for companies looking to promote their business with green promotional products. Ecozuri offers a guaranteed-green product that is manufactured from your choice of either 100% recycled plastics, organically farmed fabrics, or material manufactured using sustainable farming techniques.  

Built around a custom-made factory-direct program, Ecozuri enables clients to interact directly with its worldwide manufacturing partners, removing all the usual hurdles associated with dealing with similar companies and helping its clients to not only confidently present a 100% green product, but also achieving savings that are typically in the range of 10% to 25% over other similar products.

Ecozuri products are available in a wide range of recycled and organic materials allowing you to offer a flexible, tailored product that fits comfortably with your brand’s image and have proved extremely popular with environmentally aware shoppers. Our wide range of reusable bags are easily brandable, highly visible and, while similar products offered by competitors use only 50% recycled material, Ecozuri’s unique fabrics are made from 100% environmentally friendly material.

 RPET:  Manufactured from recycled virgin plastic materials that have been collected and sorted at recycling centers, Recycled PET or RPET retains all the flexibility and advantages of virgin polyester materials with none of the associated negative environmental impact. It can be made into fabric of differing weight and thickness to suit your needs. Ecozuri can also provide you with recycled content verification issued by the materials provider for all of our custom made RPET products. 

Organic Cotton: Grown using methods that have a low impact on the environment, Organic Cotton production systems replenish and maintain soil fertility, reduce the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers and help to build biologically diverse agriculture. Organic cotton is verified through a third-party program that certifies that it was produced using only methods and materials allowed in organic production and without the use of genetically engineered seed.

Canvas: Usually made from cotton, modern canvas differs from other heavy cotton fabrics in being a plain weave rather than twill. Available in multiple weights, canvas is available in two basic types: plain and duck, with the threads of duck canvas being more tightly woven than plain canvas.

Jute: A natural fiber with golden, silky threads, Jute is the cheapest vegetable fiber extracted from the skin of the plant that gives this material its name. With high tensile strength and low extensibility that ensure a more breathable fabric, Jute fiber is 100% biodegradable and recyclable.

Hemp: Soft and durable, Hemp is used for a wide variety of manufacturing purposes. Although the fibers can be used to create 100% hemp products, it will usually be blended with other organic fibers such as flax, cotton or silk.

Bamboo: Made from the pulp of bamboo grass and 100% natural, bamboo fabric has grown in popularity because of its many unique properties. More sustainable than most other textiles, bamboo fabric is strong and light, provides excellent wicking properties, and has some antibacterial properties.

 For more information on Ecozuri and the company’s unique promotional products visit www.Ecozuri.com or http://ecozuri.com/custom-made.html

Green awareness offers opportunities and pitfalls for company promotion
Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

The continuing growth of green awareness by consumers worldwide has created many new opportunities for businesses seeking new and innovative ways to promote their products and services. A report published by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) emphasized that, at its core, the green movement is about the reduction of waste and the minimization of humanity’s impact on the environment.

Companies that translate these goals into a holistic approach to offering differentiated green products and bringing down costs across the entire value chain have been rewarded with higher margins and market share.” – The Boston Consulting Group: Capturing Green Advantage Consumer Companies

 

One of the ways for companies to transmit their commitment to “going green” outlined in the BCG report was by the effective communication of a company’s message on sustainability and green issues. The use of green or eco-friendly promotional products to promote a company’s commitment to the preservation of the planet’s ecology offers an interesting opportunity for companies but can also present potential problems if it fails to adequately research the partner it purchases promotional products from.

Promotional products have long been shown to be an effective marketing tool and offer a flexible, tangible, long lasting advertising option with results that are easily measured. In studies, promotional products repeatedly outperform television advertisements with test groups and, when added to an ongoing advertising campaign, created a favorable response toward the product of up to 44%, according to a 2006 Study by Louisiana State University and University of Texas at San Antonio.

The same study found that integrating a promotional product with TV and print ads increased referral value and improved the credibility of the message. Recipients of promotional products also tended to rate the advertising message more positively than those who did not receive a promotional product.

When these findings are coupled with the current boom in green awareness among consumers, the possibility for business to effectively market their services and products while communicating a commitment to the green movement is obvious. While the opportunities are plenty, marketing and advertising departments hoping to take advantage of the swing towards sustainability are faced with the problem of identifying a reliable company that can provide the level of dependability and green-credentials that they should be looking for.

A new phrase entering the lexicon of the general public is the term “greenwash” and, like its better known cousin “whitewash” the connotations of the phrase are not what you could describe as positive. Coined by New York environmentalist Jay Westerveld in 1986, the term refers to companies which falsely claim to be environmentally friendly or whose production processes of green products actually create more waste than is saved.

When greenwashing is coupled with the high costs, low dependability and long turn-around times associated with dealing with overseas companies, as well as the added cost implications of the inevitable “middlemen”, the economic and possible public relations consequences can be disastrous. To avoid the potential negative impact to a company’s reputation through its association with a sub-par or greenwashed product, it is important to first fully research the potential company and the promotional products that they are offering before partnering with them.

Ecozuri, a California based manufacturer of eco-friendly reusable shopping bags designed to replace the plastic bags handed out at supermarkets, offers a unique solution for companies that may be looking for a one-of-a-kind brandable product with high potential reusability. The company offers a guaranteed-green product that is manufactured from 100% recycled plastics, collected and processed in the U.S.

With bright, in-your-face designs the bags are highly visible and have proved to be extremely popular with environmentally aware shoppers. 

“Because we run a factory direct program, we cut out the middleman,” explains Ecozuri’s founder, Lily Wu. “Working with us, a business can easily transform their corporate gifts or promotional products to green products while paying less than ordering traditional promotional materials through traditional channels.”

The custom-made factory direct program offered by Ecozuri is built around a production model that allows clients to interact directly with Ecozuri’s manufacturing partners on product and logo designs, sample development and order fulfillment. Effectively cutting out all of the usual hurdles associated with dealing with similar suppliers, this young company helps its clients to achieve maximum savings, typically in the range of 10% to 25%, while still maintaining flexibility in the design process for the client.

For more information on Ecozuri and the companies unique promotional products visit www.Ecozuri.com

The calling from the youths
Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

I came across http://www.ecoforeducation.com/, a very lovely, small website launched by Nicholas, a pupil at Northwood Hills Elementary School in Texas. In his website, Nicholas proposes supermarkets to contribute 1% of the total grocery bill to the local school district anytime someone agrees not to use the store’s grocery bags. “Help us to make this dream a reality.  Let’s start the Eco For Education challenge together!” Nicholas said on his site.

Nicholas is not alone. Young children from different parts of the world are taking initiatives on reducing plastic shopping bags’ environmental impacts. Here are a few examples:

A group of students from Kent Denver School lined up two senators to sponsor a bill that will eliminate plastic shopping bags in Colorado.

Enthusiastic students from 8 high schools around Dunedin, New Zealand rolled out the red carpet (literally) to celebrate people who are using reusable bags last June. They made an ‘Oscar-like’ photoshoot street theatre, and approached people on the street to swap their plastic bags for the students’ creatively designed reusable bags for free.

In Canada, students at Cecil Rhodes School produced a video promoting the banning of plastic bags, and asked the mayor for a meeting to discuss a concrete approach to reduce plastic bag usage.

Students at Sighthill Primary in the UK designed and produced their own reusable shopping bags, and raised funds for other environmental projects with the bags.

Students in Shanghai China conducted road shows at different schools, and called for reusable bag use in every family in the city.

The list goes on…

Impressive!

To some extent, they make me feel pressured. If young and innocent kids can take such initiatives to help save environment, should grown-ups like us make more conscious efforts for the cause? At the same time, I am pleased and relieved. A more eco-minded generation is growing up. They are going to make the world, which will belong to them, a greener and better place to live. May they, and all of us, follow this calling and pass it on to future generations to come.

Popular Kiwi store pioneered bag fee 20 years ago
Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

 “To charge” or “not to charge” that is the heated question on plastic bag fees recently. When I see that on the media, I always think of my favorite grocery store chain in New Zealand, when I lived there in the 90s. The chain, called Pack N Save, charged (and is still charging) plastic bag fees in all their North Island stores. It was probably the only chain to do so at that time, but the extra charge never made Pack N Save less popular. The fresh mussel and seafood, the crispy green vegetables, the juicy kiwi fruits, and the endless choices of competitive-priced groceries at the large well lit stores always attract a large number of customers. The bag fee, if it had any impact, only encouraged more people to bring their own bags or make good use of the used cardboard boxes offered by the stores. As a poor student, I keep some of those used cardboard boxes in the trunk of my car religiously to avoid paying for the bags. I would load the groceries directly from the shopping cart to those cardboard boxes, then to the kitchen floors with the boxes. For the freshness of the foods I love, the additional efforts were never a problem. At least, it is not sufficient to make me switch to any other stores offering free bags.

Years later, when I saw the big debate regarding bag fees heating up in the U.S., I almost felt surprised by the emotional attachment to the free bags. What the fuzz? Why doesn’t everyone just bring their own shopping bags or use the cardboard boxes like people did with Pack N Save? Simple like that, I thought.  

Maybe I over simplified it, though…

Today, I read on the web that Foodstuffs, the holding company of Pack N Save decided to expand the bag fee to the South Island stores in August 2009, only to be forced to withdraw its decision 2 months later due to customer resistance. I realize, suddenly, it took a lot of courage for Pack N Save in the North Island to initiate the bag fee single-handedly 20 years ago. Luckily, they did it and they have been doing it successfully all these years.

Salute to the managers of Pack N Save, whoever decided to charge a bag fee 20 years ago, for the great example they set. I am proud that I was one of those loyal customers who helped them hold on to this environmentally conscious program.

I miss those mussels and kiwi fruits. I will definitely make a trip to Pack N Save when I visit Auckland this year, with my Ecozuri shopping bags, of course.