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EcoTensil

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You can’t make a weapon out of a paper spoon.

Coming up – how an eco-friendly product gained a whole new market.

You never know where a new market will pop up for your product – but a smart entrepreneur will recognize them and seize the day.

That’s what happened to Peggy Cross, a California package designer.

Her company, EcoTensil, makes environmental friendly eating utensils. She launched it in 2010 with the goal of making single serve food items like yogurt, greener. Her first product, SpoonLidz, were container lids made of coated paper that, removed and folded, became paper spoons.

That caught the attention of an unlikely customer visiting a Sacramento print shop where her prototype was being created. A Folsom prison employee who stopped by mentioned he was looking to purchase safer utensils for his prison’s dangerous inmates. When he saw the paper spoon – he knew it was just what he needed.

The reason? You can’t make a weapon out of a paper spoon.

And that’s how prisons became the first customers for Cross’s eco-friendly product. Suddenly her EcoTensil became the EcoTensil Security Utensil.

Cross marketed it aggressively to prisons and mental health facilities across the country. Today, they represent 25% of her paper spoon sales.

And they care about the environment too. Because in addition to making things safer for guards and administrators – paper spoons help prisons meet federal requirements to use eco-friendly products.

Since paper is better for the environment than plastic – Peggy Cross’s EcoUtensils help prisons kill two birds with one stone.

With her background in packaging, Cross went on to develop a whole line of compostable eating utensils made from paperboard. Unlike plastic, they offer green alternatives that provide efficiencies for storage, shipping, use and waste management.

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Want to know more? Here’s an interview with EcoTensil creator Peggy Cross, courtesy of The Wendel Forum

Play

In Episode 79 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on October 6, 2012, on 960 KNEW AM radio), show moderator Dick Lyons, co-founder of Wendel Rosen’s sustainable business practice group, welcomes Peggy Cross, founder of Bay Area-based EcoTensil, which produces eating utensils made from sustainable materials.

Peggy Cross exemplifies an axiom featured here on our website: Open your eyes to new trends.

She found an unlikely customer for her eco-friendly paper spoons – prisons. Now why didn’t I think of that?

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