Yolanda Simonsis is a 38-year veteran of the packaging and converting industries. She has held past editorial positions with two former publications of Delta Communications and Cahners...more

What Did You Do for Earth Day?

On April 20, just two days ago, my staff (including Claudia Hine and Nsenga Thompson) and I took a road trip to Addison, IL, to get a “sneak peak” of a solar-powered installation at a company called Earth Friendly Products–the largest commercial solar-powered installation in Illinois. We were intrigued to know how photovoltaic technology–in which our very own industry is gearing up for some heavy expansion in the future–is being implemented. AND, after all, Earth Day was just around the corner. We wanted to do something to honor it, and the installation was in our very own backyard!

Earth Friendly Products is not your run of the mill cleaning supply product manufacturer. All of its products contain no toxins, 1,4-Dioxane, formaldehyde, petrochemicals, GMOs, chlorine, or ammonia. Plus, the company pledges that it will never test on animals or use animal ingredients in its products. The company says it uses only essential oils and plant-based, replenishable components to help its customers keep their homes clean, fresh, and healthy, too. One of the companys most popular products is ECOS Laundry Detergent. You may have seen it on the shelves in the cleaning supply aisle at Costco or Jewel Food Stores among others. Besides being effective at cleaning dirt and healthier, the product is even more cost effective than the standard brands. But I digress...

So Claudia, Nsenga, and I sure-footedly followed VP Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks up a ladder and climbed onto the roof of Earth Friendly Products to take a gander at its new 312 solar panels. The picture shown here may be the image of many more similar rooftops of other companies across the country in years to come. Vlahakis-Hanks said the new array, which she planned to switch on today, i.e., Earth Day, would provide up to 60% of the energy the company would need to operate. Thats a hunk of change! The company is also committed to adding solar power at four other regional facilities across the country, including Washington, California, New Jersey, and Florida.

The company is expecting a return on their investment in four years at current energy rates. It also benefited from a 30% federal tax credit as well as a 30% Illinois tax rebate.

Vlahakis-Hanks is proud of the new Addison headquarters reduced carbon footprint, the healthy products it manufactures, and the healthy environment it provides for its workers and the community in which it's located, but it also makes sound fiscal sense to adopt a greener energy solution. The company claims in only two months it decreased its carbon footprint and reduced its warehouse waste by 50% changing up the facilities, i.e., bamboo flooring, solar panels, and recycled doors. The rooftop solar system was constructed at a cost of $275,000 and will generate enough energy to significantly reduce harmful greenhouse gases.

To add further to the company's already green profile, it uses recycled materials from the bottles and shipping items the products are shipped in. It employs gaylords in a recycling center for every material it can possibly recycle. Even the release liner for the pressure-sensitive labels it applies to product containers is saved, shipped out, and recycled for energy use.

So what did you do to honor Earth Day?

Earth Friendly Products VP Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks proudly shows off the production floor (background) at the company's new Addison, IL, headquarters. A total of 312 newly installed photovoltaic solar panels–the largest commercial installation in the state–will assist in providing up to 60% of the company's energy needs.

K Vlahakis-HanksPV Array

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