Thursday, January 03, 2008

Green(er) Cup

If, with three sentences on a slip of paper, I could help you turn your company just a little “greener,” would you be interested?

You can do it if you make insulated travel tumblers available to your employees and customers as one of your corporate ad specialties. The one in the photo above is a stainless steel model…but after all these years, there are literally hundreds of styles, all built on the same general principles: a hand-sized container with [a] double-wall vacuum insulation and [b] a firm-fitting, non-spill top or lid with [c] a slide opening.

Here are my three sentences (and see four spiffier options below):

Use this insulated mug next time you visit your favorite coffee shop or convenience store, instead of taking your beverage out in a disposal cup. And keep using it again and again: You could save your local landfill – and the environment – a lot of waste. Thanks from the green-thinkers at XYZ Company.

Think of this as the ad-specialty version of repurposing content if you like. Truth is, our environment could use a little help on the to-go cup front. Writing in the November 2007 issue of Fresh Cup, Lois Maffeo makes a couple of telling points.

First, the standard paper-and-plastic go cup is a key part of the retail coffee biz. You know it – everybody knows it. You only have to look around at how many people are carrying Starbucks go cups into meetings…and just about everywhere else.

Second, the “average American office worker’s annual consumption of 500 beverages in disposal cups” means that trash baskets, garbage trucks and landfills are overwhelmed with the things. These are objects made of paper or plastic (or both) that are put to use for an estimated 20-30 minutes. Maffeo says that the conventional go cup is one of America’s quickest paths to the waste stream: buy it, use it, throw it away. In half an hour tops.

One answer that’s being stirred (not shaken) by the cup industry…uh, the paper product manufacturers…is creating go cups with renewable resources, or post-consumer recycled content. And this is a good one, even if it means that retailers who offer compostable cups will pay two or three cents more per cup than for a paper cup. We’ll end up paying for that, but it’s worth it for the benefit.

The better, greener answer is the insulated travel cup or tumbler – the one that you’re likely already making available to customers and prospects. (And no, I am not being paid by the Advertising Specialty Institute for this post…no promotional fees for me, thank you. Although I am open to discuss…)

No one but you and I will know if you start putting a bit of paper inside each of your company’s promotional tumblers; and add a little extra environmental messaging to your corporate brand platform.

I asked some of my colleagues if they could make my own sentences sharper or wittier. They did. With thanks to each, here are their suggestions.

1. “I cut the word count by 37% but don’t think it’s any more provocative,” Graham Rust of Rust2 in Prague said. His option:

Use this insulated mug every time you visit your favorite coffee shop or convenience store (instead of taking yet another disposable cup) and you’ll cut local landfill, and help our environment. Thanks, from the green-thinkers at XYZ Company.

2. A different take from long-time Houston copywriter Bill Holicek goes like this:

Call me Max the Mug! Use me again and again at your coffee shop and carryout. You save our trees and landfills. And show eco-friendly clout.

3. From “New Jersey Jack” Goldenberg on the East Coast:

Adding waste to the environment? Stop! Littering Earth with disposable coffee cups? Stop! Start using this insulated mug ever time you drink a cup of Joe! From the Green Thinkers at XYZ Company.

4. The principal of Simply Communicate, Jamie Roark, sent this one:

Enjoy this insulated mug instead of a disposable cup each time you visit your favorite coffee spot. Know that every time you sip, the environment sighs. Thanks from the green-thinkers at XYZ Company.

However you say it, you can help save the planet – one cup of coffee at a time.

I owe the idea of this post to Bobbie Ireland and Fran LaGrone at Wood Group (who sent me the photo); and Maggie Seeliger at KBR. All of them, at various times, have given me one or more insulated travel tumblers with their corporate logos on them. I use these tumblers a lot…just the way I describe in this post. And thanks to everyone for participating.


Scott From ASI said...

Hi Richard,

This topic is quite interesting and a trend that's been actively taking off in our industry. More ad specialty suppliers are working with distributors to provide more eco-friendly products for customers. There's a video from Tim Andrews, president of the Advertising Specialty Institute, demonstrating seven products that are unique this year:

Go green.

Hank Sulkowsky said...

Hi Richard: Happy New Year to you and yours from me, too. I know this is late in coming, but I'm just back from my holidays.

So here are my three cents (or sentences):

The next time you visit your favorite coffee shop, bring this mug. Just say no to disposable cups and help save the environment. Cheers to the green idea from your friends at XYZ Company.

Oh, and there was a bit of a wacky headline, too: Get a mug shot (But that would only be true in bars ...)

All the best...Hank.

Richard Laurence Baron said...

Turning to January on the 2008 Half-Price Books calendar, you'll find the same subject matter: "If every coffee-drinking American used a refillable mug instead of a disposable cup, it would spare our environment up to 7 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions every day."

The company also offers a check-in site:

Great information, great tips!