Opening the box, from Peak Organics, a company whose board
chairman is Gary Hirshberg, organic-foods guru and head of Stonyfield Farm Yogurt, revealed a bottle
of beer in a Ziploc-style plastic bag, surrounded by bubble wrap, and packed
into a needlessly large box with Styrofoam peanuts. (See picture.)
The marketing material touts the fact that the beer is made
"without toxic and persistent pesticides and chemical fertilizers,"
saying that is "more enjoyable, both for consumers and for the
"The company is a strong supporter of the
environment," said Sue McGovern, the company's PR consultant, when I
called to ask "what gives?" with the packaging that is as
environmentally insensitive as it gets.
"Organic is a system of agriculture," she said,
"not a lifestyle statement." But surely she can't believe that.
Anecdotes from consumers - who, in a cool twist, can win
contests and have their names, photos, and quotes appear on bottles of the beer
- were included in the press kit as well as on the company's Web site. They described "peak experiences" with nature
and the outdoors, clearly marketing the product at people who value the Earth.
The sample beer was, the company said, brewed in Portland.
The package was postmarked in Burlington, Massachusetts, where the company also
has an office, meaning a beer made in Portland was sent to Massachusetts to be
packaged up and sent back to Portland. Is this efficient, either?
McGovern said the company, and many who support organics and
environmentally responsible actions, is "looking for progress, not
She asked me how I would have shipped a liquid beverage in a
glass bottle. Apart from the fact that it's a needless marketing ploy that cost
$5 to mail, I suggested wrapping it in corrugated-cardboard wrapping and
cushioning it with crushed paper or recycled-paper "peanuts." (I'm
still not sure whether the plastic bag was necessary, though if the bottle did
break, that would be a nice touch.)
McGovern also noted that the company president, Jon Cadoux, personally
wrapped the beer in all that plastic for packaging. Apparently, Cadoux will be
calling me sometime today or tomorrow to talk more about this.
What do you think? What should I tell Cadoux when he calls? I'll update this when he does.