Admittedly, saving the world may seem a bit dramatic. But when it comes to packaging, less is more for socially-conscious companies. Less materials, less carbon emissions, less landfill waste all lead to greater stewardship of our earth.
The story you are about to read describes how a great company sought to be an even better company through its packaging. In this conversation, we pull back the curtain and talk to GreenSeed customer Happy Family Organics’ Packaging Development Manager, Marcu Alexander, and Director of Sustainability, Katie Clark.
The story’s more universal theme, however, is about relationships, and the grit required to take the mission, often simply found on a company’s “about” page, and really live it — to set your mission into motion so that, above all else, mission itself is the litmus test by which decisions are made and products are brought to market.
Businessman and author W. Clement Stone once said: “When you discover your mission, you will feel its demand. It will fill you with enthusiasm and a burning desire to get to work on it.”
In the end, we all venture to do important things in life. We all seek to live our mission in the best way possible. Rarely, however, do we make the journey alone.
Like most stories, we begin at the beginning.
In 2003, Happy Family Organics Founder Shazi Visram saw a friend struggle to find healthy food options for her baby. Shazi ventured to find a solution, and on Mother’s Day 2006 Happy Baby was born.
The company’s mission? To change the trajectory of children’s health through nutrition. And this goes well beyond the organic and nutritious food they provide; Happy Family Organics knows that the health of our little ones is critically dependent on the health of the environment they live in.
“When you hear our mission, you don’t automatically connect it to sustainability,” Katie says. “But for us, part of that core mission is about removing toxins from all of the environments that impact baby’s health. Supporting organic agriculture is the main way we accomplish our mission, but we go further by adopting sustainable business practices that contribute to a healthy and clean planet for our little ones. Improving our packaging is just one way we do that.
GreenSeed has the awesome responsibility of partnering with Happy Family Organics on the packaging for two products: Happy Baby Organic Yogis (freeze-dried yogurt and fruit snacks for babies) and Happy Baby Organic Creamies (dairy-free freeze-dried veggie and fruit snacks made with coconut milk).
Whether we fly to Boise, Idaho or they visit our facility in the Land of Lincoln, one thing has become remarkably obvious: Companies are like people. When two share the same mission, when you care about the same things, when your cultures match, then ideas fly freely back and forth. In the end, you help each other be the best you can be.
In fact, this collaboration led to Happy Family Organics right-sizing the Yogis package. One moment. One what-if idea. One shared mission.
Marcu explains it this way: “GreenSeed’s Plant Manager Hector Leon was very open to exchanging “what if” ideas. Yogis debuted inside a one-ounce super pouch in 2013, the best option at the time. Over time, we realized the head space for the Yogis packaging was bigger and bulkier than necessary and wanted to make a change toward right-sizing.”
Marcu’s team was working to right-size the Yogis pouch while working directly with GreenSeed to right-size the outer packaging as well. She comments: “We worked internally to figure it out and we did trials. GreenSeed was involved and worked with us on the new case sizing.”
Like most ideas, however, there’s always that other side. For Happy Family Organics, the question then became: What happens when the product looks smaller?
Simply, Happy Family Organics trusted its customers. Here again, mission comes into play. They took the risk, deciding that the people who used their products would understand because they too believe in the same mission.On the sustainability side, rightsizing the Yogis pouch reduced the overall material use and waste, and made the packaging optimized to protect — but not overprotect — the product. Such thinking is mission-driven packaging in play.
Happy Family Organics’ Katie and Marcu
Marcu’s thoughts: “There’s no sense in packaging a high quality product with more than you need. When you save material on the master case, there are more cases on a pallet and fewer trucks. We think of our packaging in the overall carbon footprint. While it’s not recyclable, we still want the lowest carbon footprint.”
Right-sizing Happy Family Organics’ packaging will generate a 9 percent material savings. That means less film going into a landfill. With the size reduction on master cases, truckloads will go from 7,378 pallets or 123 truckloads per year to 4,464 pallets or 75 truckloads per year (60 pallets per truck), reducing carbon emissions.
Here’s the ‘saving the world’ part of mission-driven packaging
Happy Family Organics is no stranger to mission-driven packaging. The company contributes to several working groups like the Sustainable Packaging Coalition and OSC2, a group of like-minded brands working toward better packaging options. One of Marcu’s hopes is that Happy Family Organics will inspire others through their socially conscious packaging so that “people will start questioning their packaging choices.”
One final thought from Katie echoes what many of us in the natural foods industry feel: “Ultimately we want packaging to have an end-of-life solution so it doesn’t end up in a landfill. Keep the earth clean for our kids and generations of kids to come. We’re always looking for new solutions.”
HOW ABOUT YOU?
How does your packaging connect with your mission and values as a company? Why is this important?