In the mid-2000s, eco-conscious companies faced a substantial conundrum: Should they design products that were green but not effective or effective but not green? Basically, those were the choices on the table, and to me, neither was satisfying.
Fortunately, Jelmar’s chemist resisted that thinking, as she was constantly tweaking and improving the CLR line. As a result, beginning with our flagship CLR product and continuing with many in the CLR brand of cleaners, we changed our formulations to environmentally safe versions. We didn’t say a word to customers — we wanted to see whether anyone would notice any difference in the products’ effectiveness. No one did, and sales continued to climb.
Simultaneously, the EPA created its EPA Safer Choice label to indicate which products were safe for the environment, and Jelmar became the first to use the label in our national TV commercials and feature the logo on the front of our labels. We even trademarked the term "Greenvenient" because we wanted to start a trend that consumers would make greener choices if they thought it was convenient. (We are still hoping it becomes part of our lexicon.)
Our desire to have the most effective products eventually led us to the path of creating safer products. It might seem contradictory — after all, in the past, the general perception was that environmentally safe products did not equal great quality. Jelmar, with the CLR brand of products, was essentially the pioneer of developing products that could handle big cleaning jobs while still being safe for the environment.
In other words, we’ve grown toward sustainability not necessarily because it’s popular but because it's a natural evolution for the organization. Even today, many people still don't realize our products are environmentally safe — they buy our products because they work. For us, it's an added bonus. Now I am secretly turning people who would never buy environmentally safe products into believers because they trust the CLR brand, and we get to support the EPA Safer Choice program — and that's a win-win in our book.
Going Green Has Its Advantages
In the past, most consumers didn't care whether a product was environmentally friendly or not. Now, though, Millennials have spurred the phenomenon of putting money behind companies that practice eco-friendlier processes and offer environmentally smarter products. As an Accenture report notes, Millennial buying power will likely reach $1.4 trillion in the next two years. When you consider that 90 percent of Millennials surveyed by the Shelton Group distribute their dollars based on their perception of a business’s social responsibility rating, that’s some serious cash up for grabs.
Of course, Millennials aren’t the only eco-conscious consumers. Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Z all show affinities toward buying organic, green, and environmentally friendly merchandise as well. In fact, 45 percent of Americans want to buy eco-friendly products. The only caveat? The companies selling those products must practice sustainable, ethical processes and protocols. In other words, offering a green cleaner isn’t enough; today’s savvy purchasers want to know that the corporation behind that cleaner is doing everything it can to be environmentally friendly.
At Jelmar, we understand, which is why we openly and eagerly learn more about the ways we can positively affect the planet and our collective futures. For instance, if we can use natural energy sources instead of oil, we should. After all, why would we want to drain the energy grid when we could enjoy a continuous source of energy by harnessing natural resources like the sun using solar panels and the wind using turbines?
We might not be a startup, but that doesn’t mean we’re too big to think about the little things and how they add up. Consequently, we’ve focused on annually auditing our sustainable initiatives to examine how and where we can make improvements. And we’ve achieved positive traction with clients who appreciate that we not only talk the talk, but we also walk the walk.
Still, the accolades and badges we’ve earned mean little without consumers’ trust. Certainly, it’s wonderful to be lauded by the EPA and other entities, but nothing is better than knowing we’ve satisfied customers’ needs without having to relent on our pursuit for green solutions that won’t harm the earth, the air, or the generations to come.