Today, the average American still uses 675 pounds of paper every
year and, despite conscientious recycling, discards enough to make
the stuff the single biggest component of landfills. This statistic,
recently sited in a Barron’s article, speaks volumes about
the paper problem in the United States.
The question is, how do we make a dent in this problem? For years,
there have been progressive companies working with select printers
and paper manufacturers to pioneer healthier and sustainable printing
processes. So why haven’t more companies followed these leaders?
Often, one of the greatest barriers is simply not having the time
to gather information. Another is a lack of access to the experts
to understand how to get started. This feature provides a quick
reference guide on how to proceed.
According to Mario Assadi, founder of Berkeley, Calif.-based GreenerPrinter—an
eco-friendly printing company—there are several things companies
must consider as they transition their printing in a more sustainable
Use maximum-recycled-content paper. GreenerPrinter doesn’t
offer anything below 80-percent-recycled content, with a minimum
of 40-percent post-consumer content. The non-recycled portion should
be from sustainably harvested fibers.
Select papers processed chlorine free (PCF). This refers to recycled
paper that is unbleached or bleached without chlorine or chlorine
derivatives. PCF substitutes oxygen-based compounds like hydrogen
peroxide for chlorine compounds. Chlorine usage in paper bleaching
has been linked to breast cancer, as well as adverse affects on
the immune and reproductive systems of humans, fish and wildlife.
Go low volatile organic compounds (VOC). During both the manufacture
and printing of ink, some portion of raw materials is emitted into
the atmosphere. These VOCs can cause a variety of health effects.
Also, when printed papers end up in landfills, VOCs are released
into the groundsoil, causing cancer and birth defects.
Request soy- and vegetable-based ink instead of petroleum-based
inks. These alternatives are bright and vibrant, low in VOCs and
Think renewable energy. Look for a printer that uses renewable
energy sources for their shipping. All shipping produces an environmental
A real-life example of a company that follows these guidelines
is the forward-thinking Aveda Corp. Aveda manufactures and markets
a collection of plant-based hair- and skin-care products that are
sold in more than 8,000 salons. Over the past six months, I have
received a few eye-catching Aveda marketing postcards. The mail
pieces impressed me with their visual beauty and simplicity. It
was immediately apparent that they were printed differently, but
it absolutely delivered an on-brand look. Kathy Sletten, the senior
print buyer at Aveda, explains, “We feel that we have learned
the necessary nuances to print with recycled, uncoated paper using
soy inks, and still produce a beautiful high-end piece.”
Sletten offered insight into Aveda’s approach to print sourcing
and production by explaining that the company strives to use the
highest content of post-consumer-recycled paper on all collateral
and direct mail printed pieces, with a goal of consistently using
100-percent-recycled paper. “We make every effort to continually
use this percentage. It keeps previously used paper out of the
landfills as well as avoids the cutting of additional trees.” Additionally,
Aveda looks for post-consumer-recycled content because all paper
fiber in this category has actually been used by a consumer and
recycled, rather than consisting of trimmings from the paper mill
or printer. The company also looks for Forest Stewardship Council
(FSC) certification, which assures that all fibers in the paper
have been harvested sustainably. Aveda likes to select paper manufacturers
and printers that use wind energy to power their operations.
Other companies are embracing the concept of using recycled paper,
as well. Josh Maddox, business development specialist at GreenerPrinter,
recently shared some client success stories with me. Among them
was the case of Salesforce.com, a rapidly growing publicly traded
company with more than 200 sales representatives throughout the
world. Salesforce.com doesn’t come to mind as an environmental
steward; in fact, the company doesn’t mention anything about
green initiatives (at least that I could find) on its Web site.
Yet Salesforce.com recently went from having non-recycled paper
to using at least 80-percent-recycled content in its sales and
marketing materials and annual report. Maddox was able to show
the company how simply changing its print collateral paper would
result in an enormous environmental resource savings over time,
with no increase in cost.
Making it easy
When it comes to encouraging firms to make the change to better
printing, one key component is delivering an easy and pain-free
experience. Many companies have strong relationships with their
existing print vendors, and know that they’ll get quick turnaround
on quotes and production times. Sometimes a barrier to switching
is fear of getting stuck in the queue with a new vendor.
GreenerPrinter has added an online quoting section to its Web site
(GreenerPrinter.com). It provides-real time quotes for a range
of formats and mailing services. This ensures that customers get
a timely response. These quotes also underscore the comparable
cost to traditional printing.
Maddox and his team have flexed their muscles even more in the
online Web-to-print arena in an effort to make their customers’ processes
run smoothly. Each year, Clif Bar’s Luna division hosts a
film festival in more than a hundred different venues nationwide.
Requests from the venue managers for posters, invitations, programs,
tickets and postcards were overwhelming the Luna team. To streamline
the process, GreenerPrinter created a private label storefront
that allows each venue manager to order their own festival print
collateral right on site.
Although it’s similar to GreenerPrinter online, the Lunafest
storefront site is totally unique: We used all their branding,
graphics, photo images, logos, and allow the venue manager to enter
their own venue information right on the site: date, time, price,
address and more,” Maddox says. The collateral is then produced
with 100-percent-recycled paper with vegetable inks.
I hope this article has provided you with the information you need
to change your printing or encourage others to do so. Over the
past month, in the process of writing this article, I was able
to usher two more of my clients into the world of environmental
printing. Two down, just a few more to go …
Holly Bornstein is the founder and principal partner of Propel
Marketing, LLC, a direct-marketing firm that specializes in green
products and services. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.