Top Five Fun Facts: April

Eric DesRoberts

Eric DesRoberts continues his monthly series of facts and tidbits he’s uncovered during his research to better understand products and packaging. You can also check out his past Fun Facts here.

  1. A typical American is sedentary for 21 hours a day. An estimated 86% of Americans sit all day at work. Research shows that if people sat 3 hours less a day, it would add 2 years to the average life expectancy.

  2. One gram of protein from bovine meat requires about 112 litres (~30 gal) of water. This figure increases to about 139 litres (37 gal) of water per gram of protein from nuts, and down to about 19 litres (5 gal) of water per gram of protein from pulses (grain legumes). Pair these foods with the options below and start to see your water footprint soar.

3. Microorganisms surround us. In the relatively desolate atmosphere at 1,000 feet, every cubic meter of air contains about a thousand microbes. Closer to the ground, that number increases to about 100,000, and on every square centimeter of human skin, its about 10 million. A teaspoon of dirt contains 50 billion microbes..

4. World Health Organization’s (WHO) new findings show that poor air quality is responsible for 7 million deaths a year – one in eight total deaths worldwide. The Western Pacific and South East Asian regions bear most of the burden.

 5. The Center for Science in the Public Interest found that foodborne illnesses have decreased by over 40% from 2002. Among the outbreaks that were traceable, restaurants accounted for nearly twice as many as outbreaks as private homes. Outbreaks with the largest average numbers of illness were found to occur in group settings such as prisons, catered events, and schools.

*Earth Day Bonus: August 20 was Earth Overshoot Day in 2013. It marked the approximate date our resource consumption for 2013 exceeded the planet’s ability to replenish it. It happened on about August 22 in 2012, September 22 in 2003, and on October 21 in 1993 (about a month earlier every decade). If we continue at this rate, Earth Day 2052 could also be Earth Overshoot Day.


Treating Every Day as Earth Day

Kelly Lahvic

With the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Rivanna River just down the road from the office, Charlottesville provides GreenBlue with a great natural setting for a sustainability EarthDay3organization. GreenBlue staff work daily to help make businesses and products more sustainable, and we are well equipped with the knowledge, expertise, and research to make this happen. But each year on April 22, we like to remind ourselves of the reason we do what we do, and spend Earth Day celebrating our planet and the protection of its natural environment.

While we are thrilled to see the annual excitement today, we think it’s important to treat every day like “Earth Day.”

April 21, 2014: A typical day in the life of a GreenBlue staffer: Continue reading


SPC Member Spotlight: Sappi Fine Paper’s The Gambo Project

Kelly Lahvic

“Member Spotlight” is the newest addition to our GreenBlue blog where we will regularly highlight the sustainability achievements and initiatives of a Sustainable Packaging Coalition member company.

Sappi Fine Paper is a leading member in the Sustainable Packaging Coalition’s Forest Product Working Group. As a North American producer of coated fine and release papers, as well as dissolving wood pulp and market kraft pulp, Sappi sells its various paper products to customers all over the world, while simultaneously maintaining a steady environmentally-friendly reputation within the forest products industry.

Sappi has made many recent sustainability advancements and capital investments at its Somerset Mill, where they manufacture coated free sheet graphic paper, grease-proof packaging paper and bleached kraft pulp; recent initiatives include improvements to the mill’s lime kiln and working closely with Summit Natural Gas to bring a natural gas pipeline to Skowhegan, Maine, that will service the mill and 17 local communities. However, the public will most easily relate to their work surrounding the Gambo hydroelectric facility; a project that has been underway since 2009 in Westbrook, Maine.

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Brad Goulet, Sappi Hydro Manager/Utilities Engineer, and Richard Curtis of the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust (PRLT) worked together to create appropriate public access to the Presumpscot River. While Sappi was required by their license for the Gambo hydroelectric facility to create access, the opportunity to work in conjunction with the Land Trust enabled Sappi to enhance existing trails at the Historic Oriental Powder Mill Complex and Cumberland Oxford Canal.

The Gambo Project resulted in a beautiful nature trail connecting to the PRLT trails, convenient fishing access, and a location for kayakers and canoers to portage between the upstream Gambo Pond and the downstream river reach. Along the Presumpscot River, Sappi now has many public access initiatives underway that will allow the local Maine community to better enjoy their surrounding environment.

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“Working with the Presumpscot Regional Land Trust to accomplish these results, was a true collaborative effort,” said Brad Goulet. “Fostering a relationship between Sappi and such an important land conservation organization ensured that the land will be used for appropriate recreational purposes for years to come.”

Check out Sappi’s Presumpscot River blog before visiting the area, as Sappi regularly provides educational updates on the area including lake levels, river flows, and consequential water safety rules. Learn more about Sappi’s broad range of environmental efforts by reading their 2013 Sustainability Report or by downloading their infographic on Water Use in the Paper Industry.



Moving Beyond the Easy Wins – Integrating Sustainability Into Our Core Business Strategies

Nina Goodrich

As a follow up to our recent SPC Spring Conference, I’d like to share some thoughts on the big picture trends I see happening in the sustainability industry today.

The focus on sustainability within companies is shifting. Sustainability has matured and is being embedded in new ways. In the past, sustainable packaging was often considered the gateway to sustainability; the first focus of many sustainability initiatives. While sustainable packaging still plays a role in a company’s larger corporate responsibility initiatives, there is a difference in the “job” of sustainable packaging versus the larger “job” of sustainability in organizations. Continue reading


SPC Spring Conference Recap

Katherine O'Dea

GreenBlue staff recently returned from our 2014 SPC Spring Conference. Having Seattle as our host city set the stage for one of our most successful conferences to-date. With its  progressive sustainability initiatives , Seattle provided the perfect venue to allow us to develop an agenda full of tours and sessions that explored some of the most innovative sustainability projects in the country. Over 300 sustainability professionals representing all aspects of the packaging supply chain attended the Conference. The breakdown of participating organizations included brand owners, retailers, material manufacturers, converters, government organizations, nonprofits, educational institutions, and consultants. Continue reading


Seattle: A City with an Encouraging Plan for Climate Change

Eric DesRoberts

Growing up on the coast of southern Maine, Seattle was about the furthest point in the contiguous US that I could travel. This is probably one of the reasons I never made it out there. While the SPC Conference (#SPC2014) will not necessarily be a vacation, it is an opportunity to be in an amazing new place while pursuing my interests and learning from packaging and sustainability professionals.

Looking into the city (mostly food and must see tourist attractions) in anticipation of my post-conference stay, I got carried away with clicks and found myself looking at Seattle’s Sustainability Initiatives. Continue reading


SPC Member Spotlight: Johnson & Johnson’s Project Phoenix

Kelly Lahvic

“Member Spotlight” is the newest addition to our GreenBlue blog where we will regularly highlight the sustainability achievements and initiatives of a Sustainable Packaging Coalition member company.

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has a long history of inspiring projects and initiatives ranging from environmental campaigns like their Care to Recycle campaign, to global healthcare work with Operation Smile. A recent Johnson & Johnson initiative that caught our attention is Project Phoenix, a program established in 2009 that helps recycling cooperatives in Brazil improve their operational processes, document their policies and develop a stronger social infrastructure. Continue reading


Walking the Walk with our Sustainable Conferences

Elizabeth Shoch

At GreenBlue, we all do our best to “walk the sustainability walk” in our daily lives at home and at the office. In the past we have even had intra-staff challenges that involved sustainability actions like bringing our own containers to coffee shops and lunch spots for take-out food, eating more fruits and vegetables, collecting compostable waste in the office, and spending more time outside on a daily basis.

We spend our professional lives thinking about sustainability, but that doesn’t stop when we walk out our office door. We do our best to host sustainable conferences, too. What does that mean? First, we look for hotels that offer their own suite of sustainable practices, such as not laundering sheets and towels daily unless requested. We prefer to locate our meetings in a city center that is available by public transportation and allows attendees to walk to restaurants, shops, and sites. Our instructions to the hotel’s catering staff might also be seen as a bit strict sometimes: we require that water is served in pitchers or coolers with reusable glassware, cream and sugar are served in bowls instead of individual packets, coffee and tea are provided in ceramic cups with spoons instead of disposable cups and stirrers, sustainable seafood choices and local products are specified wherever possible…and the list goes on.

Continue reading


Speaker Interviews: What they are most looking forward to at the SPC Spring Conference

Kelly Lahvic

With the 2014 SPC Spring Conference just around the corner, March 25-27, everyone at GreenBlue is understandably busy, but nevertheless incredibly excited about what we have planned for our 10th annual event. We are thrilled to be heading to Seattle for the event, as the well-known green city will provide a perfect backdrop for an informational and productive gathering for the hundreds of packaging and sustainability professionals attending the conference.

I recently had the opportunity to talk with a few of our speakers about what they’re most looking forward to at #SPC2014 in Seattle. Here are some of their thoughts:
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Top 5 Reasons to Attend #SPC2014 – Come for the MRF tour, stay for the Garbage Burrito

Eric DesRoberts

SPC’s Spring Conference agenda is teeming with thought provoking panels and outstanding presenters, and it is an event for everyone. In classic fashion, here is my top 5 list and playbook for anyone planning to attend or thinking of attending:

  1. Take a tour – they are perfect small group networking opportunities. You may also learn a thing or two (learning may not apply to the pub crawl).


  2. Let the emails pile up – the flash talk format is going to bring the heat. Put off the latest calendar invite and carry the conversations into the networking breaks.
  3. Find out the relationship between Garbage Burritos, Mariachi Bands, and recycling rates with Sego Jackson.
  4. Wake up early and go to bed late – from early morning yoga sessions to dinner and dialogue groups, there is never a dull moment at an SPC conference. Make the most of the time we have together in Seattle.
  5. Take advantage of the amazing resources and opportunities made possible by our sponsors, Starbucks, Microsoft, REI, PepsiCo, HAVI Global Solutions, General Mills, and Dow Chemical Company, and amplified by our Seattle location.