Getting Ready to Ride the Green Wave
Dri-Duck Traders also began its journey by going green within the company first, before recently coming to market with environmentally friendly products. “It started with an internal program which we named ‘Shades of Green,’” said Cathy Groves, vice president of marketing for the Overland Park, Kansas–based company. “We divided three levels of green initiatives into separate categories and then, as a company, our employees all volunteered to serve on various action committees,” she explained. Each group had measurable goals and objectives, which resulted in the creation of green programs in the office as well as in employees’ personal lives.
Dri-Duck’s catalogs and collateral materials are printed with soy inks on paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, and a corporate culture has emerged that stresses recycling, facilitates carpooling and encourages employees to work in the community on sustainable projects, receiving compensation time in return. “I am happy to say that we created our own model, which is also constantly evolving,” remarked Groves.
IDEAS START TO SWELL
PRESENTING GREEN PRODUCTS THAT CLIENTS CAN EASILY UNDERSTAND AND BECOME INTERESTED IN IS ONE CHALLENGE SUPPLIERS ARE CURRENTLY FACING. FOR AWHILE, EXTRA COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH GREEN OR ORGANIC ITEMS WERE A POINT OF CONTENTION. GROVES SAID SHE MOST FEARED DISTRIBUTORS WOULD BELIEVE THE PRICING FOR THESE PRODUCTS WOULD BE TOO HIGH, AND THUS, BYPASS THE CLASSIFICATION ALTOGETHER. THEREFORE, SHE SAID, THE GREEN CATEGORY REQUIRED VISIONARY AND INNOVATIVE SUPPLIERS IN ORDER TO KEEP A COMMITMENT TO THE ENVIRONMENT WHILE STILL MAINTAINING COMPETITIVE PRICING.
The HumphreyLine is one such supplier. In 2008, it developed two new green lines: biodegradable plastic and personal-care amenities housed in packaging made from post-consumer recycled content. “My view is that biodegradable plastic, which converts polyethelene into water and carbon dioxide, is a pretty attractive niche market because it really answers a lot of current controversy in the country—like cities banning plastic bags [as well as] landfill problems,” stated Mel Ellis, president of the Milwaukie, Oregon-based company. Plus, with heightened awareness of pollutants that can affect a consumer’s health, he believes the personal-care line has an attractive long-term market.