Responsible Impact

Responsible Impact Episode 113 – Actually* Sustainable Packaging, with Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose

It’s no secret that e-commerce has taken off, but just how many considerations go into the packaging your online purchase needs to reach you? From ink to paper, plastic, tape, labels, and more, packaging in many instances generates more waste than the items it ships.

Enter: EcoEnclose.

What started as a small diaper business has blossomed under the guidance and heart of Saloni Doshi. She’s made this family business an innovative hub for sustainable packaging and built partnerships across the supply chain. Her leadership and approach are an inspiration, and couldn’t come at a better time. Join us as she discusses the way she’s grown EcoEnclose, and learn how to assess your packages with an eye for the environment from here on out.

 

Listen to the show on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Google Podcasts, or read the transcript below. Share with a friend and subscribe to stay in the know as we talk with more fascinating voices at the intersection of sustainability and e-commerce. Have a guest or topic you’d like to see featured? Drop a line at, you guessed it: responsibleimpact@magiclinks.com

 

 

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (0s):
I would encourage every single person who is committed to social justice, to environmental justice, to climate change policy, to make sure that when you sit down and you shop for yourself and for others to not forget about all of the change that you want to create.

Natalie (28s):
Welcome back to another episode of “Responsible Impact,” a production of MagicLinks. We connect brands and influencers in e-commerce and so this is the show where we take a closer look at the impact and innovation those industries have when it comes to the environment. Today we’re joined by Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose and her story of taking a small company and then growing it to be not only bigger, but an innovator in the industry. I for one didn’t realize how much went into making packaging sustainable and given the immense surge in e-commerce that COVID has sparked, these responsible, quality alternatives to traditional packaging are just what we need.   — Plus her realness is so lovely.

Natalie (1m 8s):
After this episode, you will never again, look at your packages for just what’s inside them, and your trip to the post office or your assessment of the materials in your recycling bin will suddenly feel a lot more nuanced.

On that note, let’s dive in, shall we?

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (1m 24s):
Yeah, hi, my name is Saloni Doshi I’m the CEO at EcoEnclose, and EcoEnclose is a leading provider in sustainable packaging for e-commerce businesses. So we serve, you know, about 20- 30,000 businesses a year that range from little tiny Etsy shops that are just doing, you know, maybe some beautiful jewelry that they are crafting at home, to you know, some of the largest fortune 500 brands in the country. So my husband and I bought the business and 2015 and we bought it from a woman who has started a cloth diapers brand called Thirsties. And you know, if you’re starting a cloth diaper, a brand, you’re pretty committed to the environment. So when she started that brand, she got really frustrated that you really have to ship out all of these cloth diapers in virgin plastic that was made in China.

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (2m 10s):
And that sort of led her down this path of trying to see if there was a better option. And so she has this sort of a tiny little business of sustainable poly mailers that she wasn’t really interested in growing. And so we met her and decided to take over her business. And so that was just a, an amazing pivot point in my life with my husband, because we had always wanted to run our own business and to find one that was small, but had so much potential and incredibly aligned with our lifestyle values was a dream come true.

Natalie (2m 40s):
When you look at traditional packaging and you open something from you know, like lets say Amazon (just because they’re shipping so much of what’s available right now) what do you see that maybe the average person wouldn’t see, in regards to packaging?

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (2m 53s):
I think when I see something from Amazon or from Target or Staples, I see a lot of efficiencies and operational efficiency in it. You know, Amazon has gotten a lot of heat – good heat, I think – for the fact that you’ll sometimes get like a little pen, but it will be in this huge box with all this plastic in it. And you know, that is all by design. You can think about Amazon and everything that they have done is to figure out how to get orders out as fast as possible and with as little human intervention as possible. So as many robots as possible, and that’s what you see. I mean, you just feel this industrial utility sort of approach when you see that packaging and I think that’s what they are really good at.

Natalie (3m 34s):
Recognizing there’s potential, and then the journey of making it come to life, I’m sure that those are two very different things, right? Like kinda tell us how, how things grew?

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (3m 44s):
I had come from a background in sustainable agriculture and management consulting. So for the five years prior to us buying the business, I was working with towns and cities and counties across the country trying to revitalize their agriculture and turn it into more of a sustainable non-commodity crop agriculture. So that’s sort of the background that I brought into EcoEnclose and I think, you know, it’s pretty easy when you start getting into a business like this, all you see is opportunity on the sustainability front and in particular, and you just look across, we bought this business with just a handful of product lines and you look at them, it’s like each product line, it can be more sustainable. We had at the time, an 88% recycled poly mailer, which at the time was the most amount of recycled content you could get in a poly mailer.

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (4m 31s):
The obvious question was why isn’t it a hundred percent? You get some answers back from your manufacturing partner and you say, well just try it. And then they come back and they say, okay, well there are some weaknesses or some manufacturing issues. Then you say, well, what if we did this? Or what if we changed the color? And so it’s just became this very iterative process of how do you keep introducing newer or a better, more sustainable products that are also going to be functionally meeting the needs of e-commerce brands. So that was her to the first thing that you see and you look at the products we do and when we bought the business. Then I think the other trend that was happening was that e-commerce, you know, was already very popular in 2015, but certainly, it has come a very long way since then. And so we got in there and it was very clear that the industry itself was growing and every day you have thousands of new hopeful entrepreneurs that start e-commerce brands.

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (5m 18s):
So I think the other thing we saw was, well my husband is in finance – his background was a little bit more in finance and acquisitions and stuff – and mine was a management consultant consulting. And we realized we have this access point to customers just by the fact that we would be offering them packaging, but we can also help them to be successful. So we got really committed to thinking “how do we create content that helps customers be successful, be more sustainable and be better?” because the dream started becoming, well, “we’re not just a packaging company, but how can we be a platform where, you know, people start working with us, they can also sort of feel the support and be a better brand?”

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (5m 58s):
And if there were a better brand, if the best brands in this country were the ones that care about sustainability, well, then all of a sudden you have a movement.

Natalie (6m 5s):
You’ve mentioned poly a couple of times. And I think a lot of people are going to be unfamiliar with what you mean by that. So if we can back it up just a second and give kind of a definition on that.

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (6m 13s):
Yeah. You mean people don’t like to geek out about packaging the way that I do I apparently?! Yeah. Yeah. This is not like Packaging or E-Commerce Packaging 101, but you know, when you think about it, if you’ve got a product to sell, you really have three basic options of how to do to just ship it right now. You’ve got a shipping box or you’ve got like a mailer, which is like a big envelope and in the mail or a category, you can have a mailer that’s made of paper, or you can have a mailer that’s made of plastic. And so when I say poly mailer, its one of those like plastic bags almost that you get, you know, if you order clothing from somebody, you’ll probably get it in a poly mailer or so that’s what I’m referring to.

Natalie (6m 53s):
Gotcha. Okay. So I know that there’s also been this big shift in terms of like recycled things, algae, tape, like just a bunch of, a bunch of the actual materials that go into the mailer. So while we were talking about poly stuff, tell me more about the specific materials where you guys have really been leaders and made changes.

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (7m 11s):
Yeah, really a great question. You know, shipping boxes, paper, mailers, and poly mailers, like those are pretty standard materials. And all we have really focused on is how do you get more recycled content in them and how do you get more post-consumer waste in them? That has been the driving force of our innovation. But then you look at other aspects of shipping packaging and there become some exciting innovation opportunities. So you mentioned algae ink and a company called Living Ink Technologies back in 2017 had invented this idea of making ink and making the pigment — and ink in particular — with algae cells. Even in sustainable inks today that are widely commercially available, even if they say that they’re soy-based or water-based, their pigment is still made with petroleum-based products, and pigment makes up about 20% of a bucket of ink.

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (7m 58s):
So their big “aha!” was, “Hey, we can turn algae cells into an actual pigment.” They were this nascent brand trying to figure this out. And they reached out to us to see if we could, you know, screenprint, something for them, and it ended up becoming this really incredible partnership. We learned how to use the tool; we learned how to test and use their algae ink. We helped them refine it and now we can offer it. I mean, I think yesterday we realized that we had done this year alone 5 million packages that were printed with algae ink this year, which a couple of years ago, it was a non-existent technology. So that’s an example where we find the small little piece of the packaging and we think, how can this be better? If we find a technology that has made it better and we ask, how can we make this commercially available? Or how can we make this scale?

Natalie (8m 43s):
You know, this brings up a couple of questions for me, but the one that I’ll dive into first is that there are a lot of people who I think would like to be as, as iterative and as a sort of opportunistic – in the good way, were you see all these opportunities at every little corner of a package to maybe make it better – but I think a lot of people don’t have the stream of income to support them while they’re iterating. Do you think that because you guys happened to be riding the wave of e-commerce at a time when it was cresting and continuing to grow, that you sort of had a little bit of luck of the draw in that? Or were there other things that allowed you to, to be able to hold your breath as it were, while you were iterating to be able to get to these wonderful innovative products?

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (9m 20s):
Yeah, it’s a really good question. I actually think – what happened fortuitously – the luck of the draw that happened for us was maybe riding the crest of sustainability, and maybe the intersection of sustainability in e-commerce early on, even when we only served like 500 – 1,000 customers a year. We had these  people who were deeply committed to sustainability, and we had enough larger clients in that mix that were willing to take a flyer on some of these new technologies. Because we have this unique access point into a group of customers that were so committed to sustainability that they were willing to pay for it, even when it was an untested technology, that was really the sweet spot we had.

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (10m 4s):
So this algae ink: we have a company called Bedrock Sandals. We have been working with them since we bought the business; they are in an incredible company. And right when we announced “Hey, who wants to test algae ink with us?!” they were like, “Wait, we’re on this. This is what we need to be printing our boxes with, and so on.” And they were willing to pay for it. We had a handful of customers like that were sort of like, “I got this, you know, put me in, I’ll pay for the testing.” So I think that that is the ability gave us to iterate. And now several years later we’ve refined it. So that it’s actually, I think, a better ink than a traditional black ink counter-part and now everybody wants it, even if they’re not as committed to sustainability.

Natalie (10m 45s):
Not being somebody who works with these inks, but now as somebody who is very curious about these inks, what do you think makes this aglae ink a better ink than what came before?

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (10m 51s):
Yeah. You know, I wish I had the video so I can show you. First let’s back up: within the ink world, the biggest challenge that any company company has always had is getting a pure black ink from a renewable source. Ink from a renewable source is always going  to be a little bit gray or a little bit muted. And early on, I think the algae inks were a little bit muted and they also clumped up and are print machines. So you could get like some blotchiness, maybe every 10th print? You’d get a little bit of blotchiness. So those are a couple of the types of issues that we’re talking about. And now those things have really gone away and the black is so rich. It’s really beautiful. Plus working with it — it’s simple things like when you work with traditional water-based inks, you have to really scrub harder or you’ll be in your hands would be stained for a day or two.

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (11m 39s):
Maybe if you got a lot of ink on your hands with algae you can really just wash it off. I mean, its amazing. So because it’s so sustainable, and because it’s algae cells, it’s a lot easier for our workers to work with. It’s easier for them to smell. There’s a lot reasons why that part of it has become much better for our team or that it’s so exciting. Yeah. So that’s one. We have had a couple of different technologies like that. Another example is the zero waste liner label, which is something really nitty gritty when it comes to packaging, but every time you ship something, you buy a shipping label, right? You peel it off and then you’re left with this release liner. Every time you really have a label, that release liner? 99.9% of the ones that are made today are not recyclable.

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (12m 24s):
There is basically a version of paper with a silicone coating on it that gives you the release properties and a company reached out to us and said, “Hey, we have this technology that can try, it’s a patented technology, that can be a 100% recycled and curbside recyclable release liner that doesn’t contain that silicon on it.” And we said, “Oh yeah, we’re in!” like, we just basically placed an order. We started working with them and everybody was super excited about it. And then six months later we started getting reports that labels were peeling off the adhesive just wasn’t strong enough. And we were finding that in our own shop as well. And so we then started working with the adhesive companies and a patent, and a technology to figure out: how do we get a better, stronger adhesive, but still maintain this really difficult patented process that allows this unique release liner to be used?

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (13m 14s):
And it took a year after we identified this as a challenge to come up with a better solution. And then last June, we released a new version of these labels that are incredible. There are so strong, there are stronger than traditional labels and they use a higher strength adhesive and now our customers are overjoyed and they have really been patient, sort of watching this journey and waiting for something better, and sharing their feedback without malice. I mean, it’s just, it was an amazing representation of the community of customers we get to work with.

Natalie (13m 47s):
It sounds a lot like the common thread through these stories that you are sharing is really the partnership relationship. This isn’t the traditional sort of, you know, ‘well, we found another vendor who could do it,’ but instead this is the way that you guys have evolved the business on a whole, really in partnership with these other folks, right?

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (14m 5s):
One of our five core values is that we are eco allies and it may mean that to them, for our customers. And we made that for our supply chain partners. And that really is, I hope something that’s helped us set ourselves apart. So we work with about 17 different manufacturing partners around the US, and every single one of them have at some point taken a flier on us. So maybe they have changed the adhesive formulation for us. Maybe they, you know, they’ve all adopted algae ink upon our very urgent requests. And so now all of them have to figure it out, how to use algae ink in their own printing processes. It took them a decent amount of time and faith in us to do that.

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (14m 46s):
They’ve all made design changes and they have always been willing to add more post-consumer waste or more recycled content, and sometimes they’ll throw their hands up and they’re like, “I don’t think this is going to work, but we’ll try it for you.” And I think because they recognize that, Hey, sustainability IS a trend So even frankly, if they are not, deeply, emotionally committed to sustainability, I think all of these partners realize that if they can get better at sustainability, that’s just going to be a boon for their business as well. And I think they see us as almost like the forefront partner to help them grow and become more progressive in that space, which will only, in turn, make them better

Natalie (15m 23s):
In terms of things like tape and tissue paper ,and all the little “accouterments” if I wanted to be a fancy:  sometimes I’m suspect when I see that something is part post-consumer recycled paper and I think, “Well, yeah, but how much??”  And the process to recapture and reprepare and repurpose those fibers. Take me into all of that portion, if you would.

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (15m 50s):
And do you mean like take you into the nitty gritty of recycling, right?

Natalie (15m 54s):
Oh my God, take me wherever you want to go. I trust you.

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (15m 58s):
Yeah. You know, and we have become a little bit more understanding. I will say this: we have just become more patient when people say ‘I can’t put more post-consumer waste in that.’ Five years ago. I was like, “well, why not just do it?” And now I think I’ve grown to understand the limitations that our current recycling and reclaiming and remanufacturing technology has to work with some of these types of materials. And so for me to make that, I guess, statement a little bit more clear, I mean, one of our founding principles as the idea is that if you want to be able to recycle something as a consumer, you have to be responsible about buying recycled content.

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (16m 39s):
And I think people don’t understand that it is a circular supply chain. And so every time you put a piece of paper in the recycling bin, the only reason that that is possible is because some manufacturer or some paper mill on the other side is willing to buy that back up at a price point that allows what they call a MRF  (a materials recovery facility) which is where your blue bin goes. That MRF has to sort out every single thing that you put into the blue bin, into these like bales where what you put in it at that blue bin will become a bale of recycled pet bottles or a bale of newspapers, a bale of recycled corrugate. And then that MRF is sitting on all of that saying, OK, I need to sell it.

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (17m 19s):
It’s just a commodities market. “I need to figure out where I’m going to sell each of these and at what price point,” and if they can’t sell that stuff at a price point that allows for them to manage their operation then they are not going to be able to take your recycling. And so you, as a consumer are pushing that material into the recycling stream, and you need to do your part by then buying it back and creating a pool of the demand. And the more and more we all do that as consumers and as businesses, the higher price point that these MRFs can fetch for these materials and more investments that manufacturers and companies are willing to make and equipment that can take some of the degraded quality that comes from recycling, because almost all materials with the exception of aluminum, almost all materials will degrade a little bit with each time they get recycled.

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (18m 5s):
So that’s my sort of a spiel om recycling: don’t forget your responsibility. If you wanna be a recycler, your responsibility is to buy recycled.

Natalie (18m 15s):
Oh, I’m very glad that you went there. I want to say thank you. Is there anything else in terms of materials that you want to give us a behind the scenes glimpse on?

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (18m 26s):
No, I mean, we just, we have a wishlist here. I mean, I will say like every year we have a wishlist of materials that we know are, that are popular, that we want to find a better solution for. An example is I am literally looking outside right now and I’m watching our warehouse guys get a pallet ready for freight, and we can not find pallet shrink wrap that isn’t virgin. And so like every year, I’m trying to find a way to make that happen, or 100% recycled shrink wrap for pallets. And so even though I’m really proud of some of the advancements we’ve made, there are endless of places that I want to continue growing and improving.

Natalie (19m 4s):
I think that that dovetails really nicely with what everybody involved in sustainability is, is seeing, I recently heard somebody describe it as sort of a “yes and” process. And I thought that that was so great because anybody who knows anybody who’s gone to improv, they will tell you the first rule is “yes and.” In a kind of a meta way it made sense because really we are all improv-ing.

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (19m 28s):
And so we can get better every day.

Natalie (19m 31s):
Ok so, any sort of challenges, like, getting funding, finding the right people, finding the right suppliers and being able to sort of keep the wheels on your cart? What’s that been like?

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (19m 46s):
Yeah. I mean, I feel like I go look back and its all, it has been his challenges and I, I would say a way of what people say after they have made the journey is something that I would tell others, which is like, you’ve got to get to a point where every challenge, it looks like an opportunity for you. Otherwise you should not decide to go into business and run your own business. So, you know, that is actually a true statement. As I looked at the arc of our growth, I think through every year I run into — well, we have no external funding, so we’re completely self-funded — and every year I have two or three periods where I am like, “Oh, how can we even pay the bills? How can we do this?” And that’s incredibly challenging and very much, it keeps me up at night and then, you know, dealing with people-challenges has been something that I continue to struggle with.

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (20m 31s):
I find a lot of joy in it when I can turn somebody around at work and really help them get on a path to real success professionally, especially when it’s one of my warehouse workers where, you know, they don’t have a lot of people who were investing in them. When I’d turned them around and put them on a path, it really makes my heart glow. On the flip side, when I have to let somebody go or I’m having a real challenge, that weighs me down and I haven’t figured out how to get through that. But yeah, I mean, again, and I, and I mentioned I bought the business with my husband and we have three kids and there is nothing more rewarding and challenging than running a business that you were passionate about and your husband’s passionate about. And man, you know, managing our household and creating separation and managing the intensity has been something we’ve learned how to do and I think we do very well now, but it has had built some marital lows, I will say, over the last five years.

Natalie (21m 21s):
God, I so appreciate that honesty. There’s often this sort of pretend demarcation, between home and work, but we’re all people and the functional boundary between those two places is actually really quite porous. So truly, thank you for your honesty. Are there other things or innovations that you’re really excited about right now?

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (21m 44s):
Two things that I’m super excited about: One is glassine bags, which is, you know, how excited can you get about packaging? I can get very excited, but I think glassine bags is the type of thing that everybody can get excited about. If you have anybody who’s been following the outdoor industry for any time, I think they’re probably aware of it. I was talking about poly mailers? There is another thing in the apparel industry, in particular, with are poly bags: they are like the clear plastic bag that almost every article of clothing that you might order online, will come in. And the reason that inner poly, the clear polybag exists because most people who are manufacturing the goods and you say China or abroad, and in those factories are putting each individual article of clothing in a clear plastic bag or throwing all of them into a big shipping box.

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (22m 31s):
And then it’s coming here to go to a fulfillment center, and then a fulfillment center, is getting the order and they want everything in plastic bags so that it is  really clean and easy for them to use, and they can scan a barcode through it, et cetera. So for the last, I would say four or five years, the fashion and apparel outdoor gear industry has been trying to figure out how to do away with this awful plastic bag. We’re all trying to get rid of unnecessary plastic and glassine bags is one answer to that. The idea is that glassine is a virgin paper, but it’s translucent. Like if you have ever been to a bakery, it’s sort of that material that you might get like a muffin in. So this paper is 100% pure, but it has like a coating to it, based on how it’s rolled (called super calendared).

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (23m 16s):
It’s highly pressurized to create that slight coating and the translucency and the weather protection. The idea is that these glassine bags could solve this. They are just paper bags where a factory could, instead of putting it in a clear plastic bag, instead put it in this glassine bag. It’s translucent enough for you to see what’s inside of it, to be able to scan a barcode in it. And then at the end of the day, it’s a curbside recyclable. Or if you must, if you can compost it as well. And that’s a really exciting.

Natalie (23m 49s):
What’s the coating that makes it translucent? Or is that a kind of plastic or something, or is that an additional component?

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (23m 56s):
Wow. You really love the packaging. I love that. So traditionally, basically when you make a regular paper, it goes through like one roller to press it one or two times, maybe. What glassine is, is it’s super-calendered, which means it almost sandwiches through, like a back and forth, back and forth through up to 10 rollers that are applying a lot of heat each time it goes through the roller. And what it basically does is take the fibers of the paper and press them down in the exact same direction over and over again in a way that chemically changes the capillaries of the paper and turns it into this sort of smooth surface. And also it gives it the translucency.

Natalie (24m 40s):
So I’m imagining, basically, the croissant of paper product, where it keeps getting rolled out. Is that about right?

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (24m 48s):
Yeah except not so nearly delicious.

Natalie (24m 54s):
That does sound really interesting because one of the things that another guest recently discussed was that in the packaging for their shoes, there were manufacturers  feeling they take this big risk when they ship something: that it’s not going to be damaged and have less value when it reaches you as the consumer. And so to think that there is something like this, that is so reasonable, it really is exciting, actually, it really is.

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (25m 19s):
That IS so exciting. And then we are also hopefully next week, launching what we’re calling the EcoX mailer, but it’s basically a hundred percent post-consumer waste paper mailer, but it has two qualities that are really interesting. One is that it’s pretty water-resistant. We literally poured a glass of water on top of it. And it didn’t soak through It’s really exciting. And that has to do with something called a sizing agent. Almost all paper has sizing agents, but nobody’s ever thought to put a hydrophobic, which is like a water repellent, sizing agent into a mailer, which now seems sort of like obvious. And then it’s also very, very high quality for a recycled mailer.

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (25m 59s):
And the reason for that is that the source material for all of that post-consumer waste is a very clean soar. So for somebody who is like, I’ve never been able to find in all of that paper an alternative to a poly mailer, this is your answer.

Natalie (26m 15s):
Wow. Is it, is it me being to persnickety to wonder what is being hydrophobic means for its reuse?

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (26m 24s):
No. Yeah, it’s a great question; one that we spend a lot of time asking. The sizing agent is such a tiny — like every single paper that you hold and your hand has some sort of sizing agent in it. So for example, a paper towel has a sizing agent that is the opposite, that’s hydra-absorbent. Toilet paper is the same. A lot of copy paper has stuff  that’s a little bit more hydrophobic. So they do a lot of things. This particular one is less than 1% of its weight is that sizing agent. And it’s been tested to have absolutely no impact on its compostability or recyclability. So that’s the type of thing that we do spend a lot of time analyzing. So when somebody comes to us and say, “Hey, why don’t you try a sizing agent?” before we even consider it, we would ask those questions about end of life, before we went down that path.

Natalie (27m 10s):
Wow. I want to come hang out with you guys. So why don’t we talk about what it means for packaging to be more sustainable. And we’ve talked about how that is a constantly advancing horizon. Is there anything else in there that you would want to talk about for people to sit with after the episode, when they were going about the rest of the day, or as the holidays came up, you know, preparing their own packaging?

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (27m 35s):
Oh yes: what does it mean for a package to be sustainable? This is a question that I think every company that really deeply cares about sustainability is probably grappled with at some point. You know, my first recommendation to any company, whether or not they want to work with us  is before you start looking at packaging options, take the time to really figure out your sustainability framework as a company. And what I mean by that is that there is something called these nine planetary boundaries, which you may or may not know about it, but there is this idea that there isn’t just one challenge sort of threatening the planet.

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (28m 17s):
Planetary boundaries includes things like carbon, obviously. There’s a boundary to how much carbon we can emit into our planet until really bad things happen. There is a boundary to how much polluting we can do to our water is before it has this catastrophic impact, there’s a boundary to how much soil we can degrade. So those are the three examples of the nine planetary boundaries. I think reading that framework helps you understand that it’s not just one thing. It’s not just your carbon emissions. It’s not just water usage or water pollution that there are these, you know, scientists have spent a lot of time thinking about the many different, these nine different things that can, that can damage the planet. And I think sit with that as a company and figure out, you know, based on your values as a leader of a company and the products that you’re selling: which planetary boundaries are you really wanting to focus your business on minimizing and, then really dedicate yourself to that.

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (29m 12s):
And it, you actually end up with a pretty different decisions. So, you know, the classic example is if you really focused on carbon emissions and you want your business to be about having the lowest carbon footprint possible, then today, if your choosing between paper or plastic and bioplastic, why you should go with 100% recycled plastic, because it has the lowest carbon footprint of the three options. And just compared one-to-one. However, if you are really focused on micro-plastics in the ocean and plastic ocean pollution in general, and the use of petroleum as an input into goods, like if that’s really the boundary or the issue you want to focus on, then the decision to have paper versus plastic versus bioplastic would be to choose paper all the way.

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (29m 56s):
And I think there are valid reasons why a company might choose one or the other. And the point is to just not make that decision when you’re on the packaging company’s website or about to place the order and then build your entire sustainable packaging framework around the products that you buy. Take the  time to build your framework and then start to build your strategy for your products on your packaging all in line, in a way that sort of supports that same framework.

Natalie (30m 20s):
In the time we have left a walk me through how transparency has factored into your business.

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (30m 27s):
So it’s a great question. I think there are two, there’s like a bunch of layers to transparency. We took the step last year of creating a bill of materials, which has a document on our website that takes every single category of products that we offer and bullets-out everything that you would want to know about the materials that went into it. And every bullet in that document is supported by a signed letter from our supplier or our supplier, or an audit that we have conducted to verify that this bullet point is true. And so if, for example, you know, for our tape, it will say, okay, well, our water-activated tape is 50% recycled.

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (31m 13s):
I have a letter verifying from the mill of that support. You know, that produces that tape paper, that then it’s a 50% recycled, you know, content that is going into it. And so that’s like the level of detail that we’ve gone into for the bill of materials. That was a really important step because it actually opened up…you know, I would say 10% of the bullets that we had originally put it in the bill of materials. We actually took a long time to find supporting documentation four and a couple of the bullets we had to change. So that exercise created in me a a very deep amount of confidence that the supply chain and the things that we’re saying around our products are, in fact, true. So then the next step, I think after that is certification.

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (31m 57s):
So an external third party is saying, “Hey, everything that EcoEnclose is saying in this bill of materials, I’ve also vetted as a third-party auditor. I have vetted that its true.” I would encourage every single person who is committed to social justice, two environmental justice to climate change policy to make sure that when you sit down and you shop for yourself and for others to not forget about all of the change that you want to create, because no matter where politics and policy go, so much change happens in this country based on how money is spent and through the capitalist structure. And we can vocalize our frustration about capitalism all we want but recognize that we’re players within capitalism.

Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose (32m 41s):
And so, you know, if you care about something, if you want to support a movement of some sort, then when you’re sitting down to do your Christmas shopping or whatever, like don’t go to Amazon and by the cheapest, most convenient, or just whatever. Take the time to find companies who have the leadership teams that resembled the diversity that you want, that run their business ethically and that pay everybody well, et cetera. Like find those 20, 30, 40 companies and support them with your dollars and maybe exclusively support them. And if every single person that marched also did that, I would be hard-pressed to think that real change wouldn’t happen. And frankly probably happen much more quickly.

Natalie (33m 26s):
I feel so fortunate to have had so many thoughtful, articulate guests on this show. After hearing a case that compelling, I mean what’s left to do but roll the credits?

Credit this episode goest to Haesil Shin, Brian Nickerson, Autumn Collins, and Saloni Doshi of EcoEnclose. They are at ecoenclose.com and let’s be real, you should totally bookmark that page.

We;re about to jump into the official holiday season, and with that in mind, stay safe, be responsible about your impact and be sure to subscribe to the show.

 

I’m Natalie and I’m out! Till next time, gang.

 

 

 

 

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