Saving our planet; one bag at a time

June 28, 2004

Would you have a bag manufacturer make a tent for you?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajiv Badlani @ 3:31 pm

Winning a customer’s trust is what makes it happen for us.

Clearly, the folks who run the Bahrain Exhibition Center were happy with the bags we’ve been doing for them so when they had a need for a colossal “tent” for a major event, they chose to discuss it with us.

From fabric selection to fireproofing to fabrication, we enjoyed the challenge of dealing something totally new for us. Finding ways to communicate all the zillions of variables with our customers was also an exercise that gave us learning and joy. We had a few anxious moments, but Sanjiv manages to make the most challenging manufacturing issues look simple and do-able.

But the real joy came when they told us they were thrilled with the result and sent us a link to their event website

Thank you Cheryl and Klaus from all of us at Norquest. Thank you for your confidence in our abilities.

Got a challenge for us, anyone? We will enjoy working with you.

June 14, 2004

Plastic bags should carry a mandatory warning

Filed under: Environment — Kaajal @ 3:22 pm

Most North Americans urinate plastics. Sperm counts are at a historic per capita low. Cancer is an epidemic.

Shouldn’t plastic bags be made to carry this mandatory warning?

There are no safe plastics; all plastics migrate toxins into whatever they contact at all times.

Tax the bags, say Californians Against Waste. And I completely agree. It works.

Ireland taxed ‘em just 12 cents and usage fell 90% in one year. How’s that for effective?

There is a proposal to tax grocery shoppers of San Francisco 17 cents per bag.

Why 17 cents? Because that’s the cost citizens of San Francisco are already paying in general taxes for some of the costs of plastic-bag trash, such as cleaning up the litter and unclogging the waste system.

Northern Californians Against Plastic presented figures to show that if each of the 347,000+ households in San Francisco were to purchase a couple of cotton or canvas bags, over the approximate 10-year life of those bags the total amount saved — compared to everyone using eight bags each week at 17 cents each — by consumers would collectively be over $300 million.

And, the bag fee would mean revenue to fund programs for the poor such as free reusable natural-fiber bags. The Chronicle and the Commission on Environment (the San Francisco body putting the bag fee proposal to the Supervisors for an ordinance) have this new information.

You know what? Reusable cloth bags are the only sustainable answer. And they aren’t as expensive as you thought. We, at Norquest can make lovely cloth bags available to shoppers at just 99 cents a bag (that’s just the tax they’d pay on 4 bags!).

Just look at the reusable cloth bags we have on offer at - see how nice they look and then see how little they cost.

Little guys need to brand too…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajiv Badlani @ 1:48 pm

Branding is essential for the little guys, too says Michael Schwarz in USA TODAY.

But when you read this, pay special attention to what he says in his last para. People eventually judge you by what you do, not by what you claim.

And (see if your behaviour contradicts what you’ve claimed all your advertising looks like one big lie.

Perhaps a new marketing mantra ought to be “Make sure you don’t have any Weapons of Mass Destruction type fantasies in your marketing story. The harder you hype, the harder you fall!”

Anyway, on to Michael’s very insightful points:

Q: We hear so much about branding these days, but it really seems like a big business concept. Do you think branding is something that applies equally to small businesses?
Hugh, Manitoba, Canada

A: I most certainly do. First, let’s be clear about the concept. Gene Simmons, lead man of the rock band Kiss once remarked that while he liked being in a rock and roll band, he loved being in a rock and roll brand. What did he mean by that? Think about Kiss for a moment. What images and feelings come to mind? Probably that distinctive Kiss logo, the white makeup, the outrageous shows, the wild stories. Kiss carefully cultivated that billion dollar bad boy image and it’s worth a fortune to them. That is what Simmons meant; having a band is great, but it’s the brand that pays the bills.

What do you think of when you think about Rolls Royce, or Nike, or Apple Computer? Each business evokes very clear thoughts, feelings, and images. They all have a strong corporate identity, or brand, associated with their name, and it is no accident. These companies have spent a lot of money getting you to conjure up specific images and feelings when you think about their business.

So the idea of creating a brand for your business is really quite important. While it might seem that creating a brand is beyond your reach, that branding is a concept for the “Big Boys,” think again. Branding is something you can, and must, do too.

Here’s why: Boiled down to its basics, a brand is the essence of what makes your business unique. It combines your name, logo, and purpose into an identifiable whole. Are you the friendly lawyer, the holistic market, the geeky computer consultant, or what? Without a brand, you may find that instead of being all things to all people, you are nothing to no one. A brand is a hook to hang your hat on, so that people remember you, which is probably more important to a small business than anyone else.

You begin to create a brand by carefully thinking about what your business is, what makes it unique, who your customers are, and what it is they want. Deciding upon a brand is vital because many other decisions will hinge on this one. Your name, logo, slogan, even the location you choose and your pricing structure depend on the brand you are trying to create. A discount motorcycle warehouse will put things together far differently than a Harley showroom.

You want to create a consistent theme through your ads, pricing, logo, etc. which reinforces the image you intend to create.

But branding goes even beyond that. Since your brand is based both on how you want to be perceived, and how you are in fact perceived, it follows that the other half of brand building is creating positive perceptions based on substance as well as style. How?

1. Discover what you do best and do it, again, and again, and again: A brand is a promise which essentially boils down to: ‘If you buy from us, and you know what you will be getting’ e.g., Volvos® are safe or Atkins® helps you lose weight. The key is consistency.

2. Offer superior customer service: All your hard work creating that cool brand will be a waste of time and money if it isn’t reinforced by happy customers. Customers should find it easy to work with you or buy from you.

3. Be a mench: Mench is a Yiddish word that basically means “a good person.” If your business practices mench ethics, your brand grows. While good looks may get you a date, being a mench will get you a mate. Pay invoices on time. Do more than asked of you. Do things when not asked. Help out in the community. That also builds your brand.

Remember, the two keys to establishing a strong brand are developing a specific identity, and then communicating that identity consistently. Do that, and your small business will have a hook that is memorable.

Today’s tip: Warning! You cannot get by on brand alone. That is the lesson of the dotcom fallout. Take for example. That high-flying startup burned through multiples of millions of dollars, mostly because it focused far more on branding than it did on business. Its once-famous sock puppet was interviewed by People magazine and was on Good Morning America, but the company soon learned that creating an identifiable brand is not the same as creating a valuable business.

June 7, 2004

Sad saga of a plastic bag. A good read.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rajiv Badlani @ 3:20 pm

I’ve just copied this story from I think it makes a great read! Imagine this happening all over as it is bound to if we don’t find a way to stop people from using plastic bags. Reusable bags are so much more logical and so affordable at you can see at

A sad saga of a plastic bag
We’re told to be careful what we wish for and I believe this to be sage advice.
Tuesday, April 5, 2005 Page A20

While driving to work recently, I was struck by the sight of a plastic grocery bag being blown down the street by the wind, rolling along in a swirl of dust like some kind of modern-day urban tumbleweed. Suddenly I was back in Edmonton, and it was winter, 1994.

Of the 18 winters I spent in Alberta, this was the coldest, the longest, the dreariest. Even the platitudes that usually brought comfort weren’t working. (”It’s a dry cold.” “It’s a sunny cold.” Ha.) As December dragged into January, then February, the prospect of spring seemed to be receding rather than approaching.

Our house backed onto a busy four-lane thoroughfare. The level of the backyard was somewhat higher than the avenue itself, and a tall privacy fence screened the yard from the traffic noise. Outside the fence was a sparse row of trees growing on a flat, grassy berm, which then sloped sharply to the street. These trees were so slender as to be spindly, and so tall that only their topmost branches were visible from the backyard. The view from the top floor took in the yard, the street and the upper half of the spindly trees.

One morning, around what seemed like the 53rd of February, I glanced out the bedroom window while getting ready for work. Something fluttered in the breeze near the top of one of the trees on the berm. It took me a minute to realize it was a plastic grocery bag, complete with red Safeway logo, clinging to a leafless branch by one handle. The way it was flapping about I was sure it would disentangle itself and blow away. Off to work I went, without giving it another thought.

The next morning I looked out the window again. Now the bag had secured itself by both handles to the branch (only a twig, really) which became a flagpole (bag pole?) as the bag billowed and fluttered with every passing breeze. As the days passed, it showed no signs of loosening its grip on the tree, although the wind was at times quite strong.

By the time March departed in its usual lion-like fashion, I was sick of snow-covered ground. Tired of landscape with no colours except brown and grey and white. (Well, there was the red ‘S’ on the bag, which I did my best to pretend was a yin. Or maybe a yang.) Most of all, I was tired of the sight of the bag, which in my mind had grown somehow to become a smirking, gloating, animate object. No, worse: it loomed like a symbol of the triumph of rampant consumerism over nature. It taunted me, it stuck out its imaginary red tongue at me. If the window hadn’t frozen shut I might even have leaned out and shrieked at it.

Now, at this point you might be inclined to dismiss me as a flake, a bleeding-heart liberal tree-hugger. So be it. But my theory is that I was suffering from an accumulation of winter misery. By this point in my life I had just had too many minus-30 degree days; too many hours spent bundling the kids into snowsuits only to have them play outside for mere minutes; had once too often lost my bedding plants to an early June frost.

I couldn’t bear the thought that soon the tentative, emerging leaves would be smothered by this plastic nuisance. On impulse, I walked down the street and around the fence and climbed up the berm, thinking that perhaps I could pull the flexible sapling branch down far enough to release the bag. Quickly I realized the futility of this: the tree was at least 20 feet tall, and much too flimsy to climb. I returned home, discouraged but not ready to give up yet.

The next morning I phoned city hall. I was transferred three times, but each person I spoke to listened politely to my tale of woe, and I was eventually connected to the public works maintenance department. Making a conscious effort not to come across as some kind of kook, I explained why I was calling. The voice on the other end assured me that the next time they had a truck in that area they would look after it. I assumed they were just humoring me, but even having made the effort lifted my winter-weary spirits a little.

When I got home that evening and went upstairs, I glanced out the window before closing the curtains. My jaw dropped; I did a double take. The bag was gone! Vamoosed! Took a powder! I was dumbfounded. There was no way it could suddenly have blown away. Not after nearly two months of being so securely fastened to the tree, through wind and blizzard and dark of night.
We’re told to be careful what we wish for and I believe this to be sage advice. You might think that trouncing my little synthetic friend would be deeply satisfying, but you would be wrong; by the next morning my euphoria had worn off.

Humph, I thought to myself. No wonder our taxes are so bloody high, if they can afford to send out a truck every time some stupid piece of plastic gets caught in a tree. I think I’ll phone city hall and complain about this extravagant misuse of expensive resources.

I hope they at least recycled the bag.

Elaine Ophus lives in Kelowna, B.C.

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