While on vacation in Utah, Colorado and Nebraska last month, I was enjoying dinner with friends at Ted’s Montana Grill, a classic American grill famous for bison burgers and sustainable practices. The table was covered with a recyclable paper tablecloth and drinks were served with eco-friendly paper straws. (Alas, I passed on the paper straws simply for the fact that I'd create less waste in the first place.) Given the sustainable items at our table and my role in an industry where sustainability remains a key trend, our dinner conversation briefly covered what is and isn’t sustainable, “greenwashing” and the degrees to which people take their personal sustainability initiatives. Our conversation ultimately revealed that while sustainability has taken society by storm, there is no one way-right or wrong-how companies make their contribution to the revolution.

We continue the dinnertime conversation here in the pages of Flexible Packaging this month. While it may seem counterintuitive to discuss “going green” when October skies go gray and the leaves turn to gold, the discussion on sustainability shouldn’t be limited to the days leading up to Earth Day every April 22. In fact, 85% of consumers surveyed in the 2009 Cone Consumer Environmental Study felt that companies should communicate their environmental commitments all 365 days of the year.

In the wake of layoffs, budget cuts, and other economic worries wearing on the world today, sustainability initiatives are often the first to face the chopping block as companies make their business decisions based on numbers. Sustainability is initially viewed as “a nice thing to do,” and the cost benefit often isn’t readily apparent.

As you’ll discover in this month’s Sustainability Report, sustainability plays itself out in myriad materials, processes and practices. But sustainability ultimately covers any actions that promote environmental, social and economic health. Once companies develop the innovations, new products and markets that arise from going green, it’s only a matter before they’re into the black.
Sayre Kos, Editor-in-Chief
koss@bnpmedia.com, 847-740-6210