The gospel of sustainability might create converts

John Kalkowski

January 30, 2014

2 Min Read
The gospel of sustainability might create converts

Having just completed my first year as editorial director of Packaging Digest, it's fun to reflect on the many people I've met and the understanding I've gained on many issues that impact the packaging community. However, no single issue has hit me right between the eyes in the way sustainability has. While everyone grapples with a host of day-to-day business concerns, sustainability has swept in like a fast-moving thunderstorm.

Sustainability in packaging has been on the lips of nearly everyone at tradeshows, conferences and industry association meetings. It's hard to open a website or a magazine focused on packaging that doesn't have at least one story on sustainability or a number of ads for companies touting the environmental friendliness of their product or service.

The thing I have to confess is that I think I've become a convert. Being won over kind of sneaks up on you. It starts with seeing others in the industry who are taking sustainability to heart, recognizing the limits of our resources. You begin reading more about it and looking for successful examples. Then you write a story that focuses on sustainability. Before you know it, you're sitting in a hotel ballroom listening to an evangelist while nodding your head in agreement. Next thing you know, I'll be chairing a conference on sustainability or presenting to a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) workshop on their Green Guidelines. Oops! I've done both of those things in the last month.

Some people say there's no zealot like a convert. That's just not me. Like many others in our business, I've begun changing my ways at work and at home to preserve our environment and maximize resources. One lesson learned in the past year is that this looming threat is nothing that any of us can dispel on our own. But if every packaging company makes some effort to reduce, reuse and recycle, the effect will build exponentially.

Some in packaging say this sustainability thing won't last long. We'll be moving along to new and greater challenges in a year or so. Not likely. It's probable that a growing number of packagers and brand owners will recognize that sustainable practices in packaging are just good management of their supply chains. It's what they need to compete and survive in the long run.

I invite you to read Sustainable Packaging Coalition director Anne Johnson's column about the FTC workshop on p. 22 or visit my “Packaging by Design” blog at for a podcast from the FTC commissioner and a link to the webcast of the event. Maybe you'll become a convert, too.

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