When I told people I know that I was thinking of going to Down2Earth, a tradeshow all about sustainable living and green products, I was met with surprised looks. I’d be the first to admit that I’m not the most tree hugging person around (actually, I’m one of the few who believe we have too many trees in New England – it takes so long to get from A – B because you are always driving past miles of trees) but Green is becoming an important part of today’s marketing and as a 21st. Century Man, I need to check out these things. I was also really interested to see how these businesses and groups went about marketing their Green credentials.
I took a few snapshots while at the show. Even though the quality is pretty poor (naughty Mr. Jobs for putting such a crappy camera in the iPhone) I hope they help give you an idea what was going on.
The rest of the family was out of town anyway so I headed out for a nice Sunday drive into town. The show was at the John B. Hynes Convention Center on Boylston Street – simple to find, although I did have to take out a mortgage to retrieve my car from the parking lot.
The show opened for business at 11.00 and I arrived about 11.20. At first it was like I’d arrived on the wrong day – there was no-one around. When I bought my ticket, the young lady told me that business was slow because it was a nice day outside. Anyway, things did get busier later on.
Here are some of my highlights from the show.
One of the first booths at stopped at was SwapTree. Their booth consisted of a couple of laptops (with nice monitors as well) and some books. OK, so what is this all about? I thought.
Greg from SwapTree solved the mystery for me. SwapTree is an on-line service that lets users trade items – a great big barter system. He demo’d the system by showing me the 38,000 possible things I could swap a copy of the Bourne Ultimatum DVD for.
They have put a lot of work into this system – not only can you quickly get a list of things you could swap for your unwanted stuff, you can also print your shipping labels right out from the site.
I’m not sure if this is a service I’d use, but it is a pretty good idea. The service is free to users (other than shipping costs) and the site is supported my ads. I assume adBlock would take care of them 🙂
The SwapTree site is clean and looks to be easy to use – check it out here. I enjoyed chatting with these guys.
Next I called on the two guys at Clean Journey. Looking at their booth, I had no idea what they did and after talking to them for a while – I still don’t!
From what I could gather, Clean Journey is some kind of business networking site. I really don’t have any additional information and checking their site only tells me that I have to wait 25 days 6 hours and 35 minutes to find out.
Since there is no information to be found, I feel quite at liberty to invent my own.
Clean Journey is the place on the web for business travelers to discuss personal hygiene. Should one use hotel shampoo or bring your own from home? What is the best deodorant to take on a trip to San Francisco? Is it OK to use the same towel two days running (to save water as the hotel suggests) or should you insist on a clean one each day?
If you are interested in finding out what it is really about, visit CleanJourney.com in a month or so, when all will be revealed.
I had already seen some posts on Twitter about the Zipcar exhibit so I knew what they were up to. To be honest, I knew very little about Zipcar which is a whole new concept in car rental.
They had one of their little cars on the booth and visitors were encouraged to write little messages right on it – using the supplied pens of course.
The Zipcar concept isn’t really car rental – more like fractional ownership where you only pay for what you use. Rather like NetJets but without the cost and carbon footprint. Using Zipcar would be a great alternative to car ownership if you live in an urban area and only need a car every now and again.
The Zipcar folks claim that a single Zipcar can replace up to 12 owned vehicles in urban locations. Really cool and terribly green. Zipcar gets my vote as the coolest concept I saw at the show!
Head over to the Zipcar site for more info.
Being an English guy, I’m snobby about Cheese and it isn’t Cheddar unless it comes from Cheddar. Sorry, Cabot – your cheese does not count. Having said that, I do love your products, especially your Hunter’s Extra Sharp “Cheddar” which I use in just about every recipe calling for cheese.
I’m not sure about Cabot’s Green credentials, although I know that they support agriculture in Vermont (indeed, I believe they are a cooperative owned by VT farmers) and don’t allow genetically modified stuff in their products.
So, even though the crew from the booth had slipped out to the bar at the time of my visit, I’m a huge fan of Cabot cheese – in my opinion the best large volume cheese producer in the US!
Cabot might have had a lack of staff, but their neighbor Green Mountain Coffee Roasters was well represented.
I’ve chatted with Amanda from GMCR before on Twitter (she is @BrewBetterWorld on Twitter) and I know that the company is committed to great coffee and Fair Trade – see my post on Fair Trade here.
If you are in New England, you’ll be familiar with Green Mountain Coffee – everyother office these days seems to have a coffee machine that uses their little one cup packages. They also are the company that succeeded where many others have failed – making the coffee in MacDonalds actually rather good.
I don’t know what it is about Vermont, but businesses there just seem to make great stuff and Green Mountain is no exception. I bet Green Mountain is Al Gore’s coffee of choice – if not it should be!
Learn more about coffee, Fair Trade, sustainability etc at the GMCR site.
Oh, while at the booth, I sampled some coconut coffee. Sounds rather gross, but quite nice. Amanda says she prefers it iced.
Next visit was to a company called Amazon Drops. This is a Brazilian outfit, making products from ingredients native to the Amazon rain forest. Everything is Fair Trade and produced using sustainable farming.
Liz told me that everything she sells is 100% natural and made in small lots. This is great but means that availability of items could change with the seasons.
The company’s products are sold on-line and also through spa’s and through wedding planners – they have a range of favors for the wedding business.
I can see that Caren and our friend Bernadette (for her wedding planning business) would have an interest in these products.
While at the show, I did actually make a purchase.
I stopped by the booth of Vermont Soap Organics and chatted with Bill. He was telling me about how the rules in Vermont have changed so that only products from the state can carry the Vermont name. Unfortunately, that nasty Vermont Maid fake maple syrup can still use the name because it is grandfathered in.
So while at the Vermont Soap booth, I bought a bottle of organic pet shampoo. Ben and Pearl (the Boston Terriers) have been a bit smelly of late so I think this will be a good investment. Thanks Bill!
The Vermont Soap site can be found here. There is lot of good clean info there. (groan!)
I did come across a few companies that didn’t seem to me to have any real Green credentials. Borders (who don’t even sell electronic books) had a booth as did Tupperware. There were several booths belonging to lame pyramid selling companies as well.
The last call I made was to see Leslie Carothers at the Circle Furniture booth. I must confess to having very little interest in furniture, I’m the guy that waits in the car when my wife and daughter want to go furniture shopping.
However, I’m hugely interested in Social Media marketing and that is what Leslie does. Her company, The Kaleidoscope Partnership, is a Social Media Strategist which means she helps her clients use Social Media to help meet their business aims.
At Down2Earth she was representing her client BiOH (part of Cargil) that produces a soy based foam. This material can replace up to 20% of the petroleum based synthetic material used in some types of upholstery.
Leslie is very active on Twitter (@tkpleslie) – she has my tweets from the show on her laptop and she is very knowledgeable about the art of using Social Media as part of an effective marketing program. I’d recommend following her on Twitter, you’ll learn a lot and she’s a great person as well.
I really enjoyed my time at Down2Earth. I was able to chat with some interesting people and came home with a bag full of goodies.
There were not any fantastic new marketing ideas to be seen and it was clear that a lot of the small business people had no knowledge of tradeshow sales techniques. At the other extreme, there were several replacement window companies with rather aggressive sales people. One had a rather clever room heating/cooling system that goes between the two panes of the window. Because I didn’t want to have to go through the canned sales presentation I didn’t stop to find out more.
These Green type solutions are crying out for Social Media marketing.
All in all, a very nice day out. It was great to meet Amanda and Leslie in real life as well.