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Feeling Good About Packing and Shipping

Company teaches children the difference between plastic and bio-degradable shipping materials.

This morning, my children participated in a scientific experiment and learned about the differences between plastic and bio-degradable shipping materials. It wasn’t at school. It was on my front porch, thanks to a small green insert in the shipping box containing our new butterfly grow kit.

It’s good for kids. It’s also smart marketing.

The package was from Insect Lore, which sells a variety of “watch them grow” insect kits. The small cylinders of butterfly larvae came shipped in what looks like regular peanuts, but the insert told us otherwise. It read,

We at Insect Lore care about the environment. That’s why we use shipping loosefill made of all-natural corn, wheat, and potato starches. Take a look at it — it’s different than styrofoam loosefill.

Try this fun experiment: Fill a cup with water and place one or two pieces of our loosefill into the cup. Watch it disappear! It’s water soluable.

It’s even one step better than biodegradable; it’s organic. You can put it to work in a composting bin. Or, better yet, reuse it next time you’re shipping something.

This material costs us a little more money, but we think it’s worth every penny if it helps the environment.

There are lots of things I like about this company’s approach. First, while they paid more for the loosefill, they made up for it on the product margin and the shipping. What they gained, however, was a real opportunity to engage their customers.

By encouraging people to get their children to experiment with this material, it creates a hands-on experience that creates a positive association for both parents and children that won’t easily be forgotten. It also reinforced the educational nature of the company’s products and mission — something important to its core customer base.

The company was very smart in the way it promoted this environmental investment and turned what some might see as an unnecessary cost into a great marketing and customer retention tool.

Organic, bio-degradable loosefill may not be the reason I purchase from Insect Lore again. But it certainly helps me to feel good about it.

I’m not sure which loosefill Insect Lore used, but I did a quick search for loosefill with organic wheat, potato, and corn starch and Flo-Pak’s product popped up everywhere.

Written by Heidi Tolliver-Walker

Heidi Tolliver-Walker has been a commercial and digital printing industry analyst, feature writer, columnist, editor, and author for nearly 20 years. She is known for her meticulous research and no-nonsense perspective. In addition to having written thousands of industry articles for top industry publications, she and Richard Romano have been the face of the well-respected industry research firm The Industry Measure (TrendWatch Graphic Arts) for many years. In her more than 13-year tenure with the firm, she has written countless reports on digital printing, 1:1 (personalized) printing, Web-to-print, personalized URLs, and other hot industry applications. She is also a long-time contributing editor and columnist for Printing News, for which she writes two monthly columns, including "Personal Effects," which features monthly analysis of 1:1 (personalized) printing case studies. She is also the author of three titles for the National Association of Printing Leadership: Designer's Printing Companion, Ink & Color: A Printer's Guide, and Diversifying Via Value-Added Services. As a small, niche publisher (Strong Tower Publishing), she is active in utilizing these technologies in her own business, as well.

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