Monday, June 21, 2010

Vegetarian Chocolate and Tea-Bag Packaging - Mars and Numi Reply

So, as you remember sometime back I was a bit peeved at Mars Bar deciding to go back to using animal products (rennet) in it's manufacturing process.

Whilst I was on my high horse I also took a swing at a few tea companies for their excessive use of packaging.

The former I was annoyed at because it seemed like such a backward step, and the latter I was perplexed at because of my 100lb rubbish challenge, because most of their packaging was not suitable for composting.

So I fired some email salvos across their bows, and as I promised back then, I said I would let you know of their replies.

Mars replied almost immediately, not really with an answer, but with a phone number a file number to reference once I called them.

So I called them today, and I'm sorry this is such an anti-climax, but in a nut shell Mars USA are not using rennet, just the UK company is resorting to this. So, bang goes your hopes of me bringing back any chocolate for you from the UK, the next time I visit. I'll will look up the UK web site and ping them with my observations and see what they say.

The only answer I had back from a tea company was from Numi.

The first sentence from them was a bit alarming.....

"Thank you for your email. I saw your blog post and was going to respond there but was glad to receive your email with specific questions and concerns."

Erm, how the heck did Numi get to see my blog post? I guess big brother is really watching us. If a tea company is able to know that I, little old me, wrote something about them on my tiny little blog which about 5 people have read, what else do other big companies/corporations know?

And how come it took the authorities 5 months to find my former co-worker when she skipped bail.... a whole mile and a half? Seems like they have their priorities mixed up.

What happens if I mention Monsanto? Shit, the front door bell just rang, and I can hear a helicopter hovering over head. Ahhh... I can see them taking sample from my corn for DNA testing. Help me..........

But I digress.....

Anyway their reply continues....

"Numi is currently in the R & D process of developing the industry's only 100% biodegradable and GMO free overwrap for the individual teabags. The second option would be 100% recyclable overwrap, which is accomplishable, but does not provide the barrier needed to protect the tea inside. Since all of our teas are made with 100% real ingredients, each teabag must be individually wrapped to ensure freshness and maintain the quality of the tea leaves, fruits, and herbs used. Also, 40% of our business is in the Food Service world and our customer base there requires individually sealed bags."

100% real ingredients.... as opposed to 98% real and 2% imaginary? Actually I should not be sarcastic as it does sound like they have their hearts in the right place. I understand their point about the Food Service world requiring individually wrapped tea-bags since we're a world of germo-phobes.

"The Numi operations team spends considerable time working with raw supplies, converters, and printers to find a solution for this material. The goal is to have a 100% biodegradable material that will break down in a home composting environment. We have secured samples of biodegradable foil (metalized material that is 100% compostable, GMO Free, and is certified to break down in a proper composting environment within 45 days). We have run test runs of this material, and we are having challenges with the heat sealability. We are continuing to work with the vendor to further develop this material so that it can be used in a commercial manufacturing environment."

I wonder if we should reply to them and volunteer to test their new design in our home composting environment. I might just do that.

"In the meantime, we have taken the steps to reduce the overall packaging used for our teabags, and we transitioned to a lower weight material in Q3 of 2009:

Old Structure: Paper / LDPE / Foil / LDPE
New Structure: 100% Post-Consumer waste Paper / Metalized OPP

Features / Benefits:
No More Foil: Foil has been replaced with custom Metalized White OPP resulting in a 50% reduction in the plastic/metal components used
100% Post Consumer Waste Paper: Continues to reduce landfill by 82,166 lbs annually
Reduces Total Use of Teabag Packaging by 22%: Results in a reduction of 43,000 lbs packaging annually for Numi Teabags."

I think OPP stands for "oriented polypropylene" and if you do a google search most of the hits returned are for products by Exon Mobile. Not sure how the new OPP substitute is better, seems like I need to do some more research.

Anyway, you can see that Numi seems to be moving in the right direction, and reducing their waste by a fair amount. They've said I can write back to them so I will asking about OPP and if they want me to beta test their packaging for them.

Okay, that's all from me. No mention of the world cup.... just yet anyway. ;-)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Weigh in #5 - June 13th, and Big Ass Spiders

Just a quick one this week. A massive 12oz bringing our total to 48.5oz or pretty much three pounds since we started on April 23, so way under our target!

Whilst I was out in the garden last night defending our crops from earwigs and slugs, something brushed against my head. I thought it was the branch of a tree, although I knew no branches were near by. I shone my torch upwards to see a rather MASSIVE specimen of this common Garden Spider. He was more like a crab than a spider! I love spiders and think they do a great job, BUT this one did freak me out a little bit.

I left him happily repairing his torn web. Maybe he'll catch and eat a squirrel or two.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Weigh in #4 - June 3rd 2010

Hi all, so here is our fourth weight in. A total of 11oz for the last two weeks. It might have been slightly heavier, but for a wonderful suggestion from Julia about how to use the broken breakfast bowl for better use. Julia's suggestion actually solves a problem I always have i.e. finding small rocks to put in the bottom of my potted plants around the drain hole to help stop the soil from all being washed away and also in helping to aerate the soil. Good job Julia.

So, five weeks into our challenge we have sent 36.5 oz to the land fill, or 2lb 4.5oz, that puts us 7lb 11.5oz ahead in the game! (Our allowance at this point would have been 10lbs).

I think you should all try this at home! It's fun and it's also good for everyone. I wonder if my waste collection service would give me a discount?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Squirrel Conspiracy, Mars, Tazo, Numi and Yogi.

Nope, not the characters from a Star Wars re-hash but things and products that have pissed me off.

The squirrel army hit back at me on Monday afternoon. After taking some serious BB shots to various parts of their bodies on Sunday, they waited until Ananda and I were out the house. Not content with just digging in my plants, they took my laundry off the lines and tossed it on the ground, and some of it even over the fence.

Ananda claims it was was the wind but those bushy tailed buggers are damned devious!

I exacted some revenge later on by shooting one of them right in the mouth. The cherry he was munching on went flying, clattering on the roof as he himself went flying from the tree.

Later on when I saw him hopping along the fence I opened the window. When he saw me he wet himself on the fence post!

He had the look of fear in his eyes. I think I am going to win this war!

Mars and Masterfood today committed a heinous crime. They started using rennet, an enzyme extracted from calve stomachs to make their chocolate products, making them non-vegetarian. This is such a backward step. So, if like me you want to give them what-for write and complain. I used this link. I'll post here later what they say.

If you do write to them let me know their replies, and I'll post them here too. No doubt it will be some kind of form letter.

Three other companies no longer receiving my business, and this is to do with our 100lb garbage challenge are Tazo, Yogi and Numi tea.

Firstly their teas are individually packaged in the box in a waxy lined sealed paper bag. The wax or plastic does not biodegrade and I know this because the worms eat the paper from the outside and leave the plastic behind.

Secondly they use two bloody metal stapes for each bag. Again, why do you need to us staples at all?

I've written to Yogi teas at this link and told them they could save money by not individually wrapping their bags and doing away with the string and staples. Surely enough people in the USA have tea-spoons so they can remove their tea-bag from a cup?

Tazo commit the same stupid crimes of individual plastic wrapped bags with two staples and string. I wrote to them here.

The third one to get it in the neck are our very own Oakland based Numi Tea company. Same crimes as above which I've asked them about through this link.

I'll let you know if and when and what they respond. Maybe they'll off me half of the money they will save from not wrapping and using staples.

Right off for a nice up of Bengal Spice tea from Celestial Seasonings. No messing with strings, staples and extra packaging with these boys.

Later this week, we'll do our third weigh in for our 100lb challenge. It might be a bit heavy this week since I smashed a breakfast bowl. Doh!