As the attendees at a Montreal conference rejected reusable plastic water bottles for typical, disposable ones, Danelle Hoffer suddenly recognized the vulgar waste that she’d witnessed over 20 years in the hospitality industry. She couldn’t even begin to quantify how much plastic she’d seen thrown away. Her epiphany immediately turned to exploit as she began an informational journey with her husband, Joe.
What they discovered shocked them. Of the 30 billion water bottles Americans purchased in 2006, only 14 percent were recycled. The rest would take 700 years to decompose in landfills. And before they ever hit a trash can, the bottles’ polycarbonate plastics may have already leaked Bisphenol A, a harmful endocrine disruptor commonly called BPA, into their users.
The facts prompted a lifestyle change for the family and the eventual creation of their BPA-free reusable stainless steel water bottle company CynerGreen. The business is now a leading brand in the stainless steel bottle industry with a client list including Microsoft, Staples, Toys R Us, QVC, American Express Publishing and Terra Resort Group. Since its launch in 2007, CynerGreen has grown to include HealthyTap Portable Water Filters, Eco-Hydration equipment, Tiny Hero shopping bags, eco-fundraising and a recently opened eco-outpost in Cabot.
Their non-profit CGKidz, founded by their 13-year-old daughter Riley, educates elementary students on environmental stewardship. “The students see her as one of them,” Danelle said. “They say, ‘If she can do it, so can I.’”
Riley has already visited more than 25 different nonprofits, businesses and schools, including one in Harlem, N.Y. where she helped students create a “green” club.
“We realized very quickly that it was our responsibility to educate people,” Danelle said, recalling how their first customers would call and ask, “What is green?” “We are selling information first, products second.”
It wasn’t a hard sell for companies like Marriott International, who implemented the Hoffers' Bottle Free program to eliminate the use of plastics in meetings and conventions throughout their hotels.
In just two years, Joe and Danelle have ultimately reduced their clients’ footprints by thousands of pounds of plastics each year. Riley’s off to a good start as well. Her CGKidz has donated 3,000 stainless steel bottles, potentially sparing landfills of 15.56 tons of plastic. Her efforts helped her become the youngest recipient ever to earn the U.S. Green Building Council’s Youth Leadership Award.