Production Ways to Go Green
By Tracy A. Gill
The Earth needs it, your customers want it, corporate responsibility demands it, and your bottom line will thank you for it.
When it comes to recycling, we aren't doing all that bad by the environment. According to the American Forest and Paper Association (AF&PA), in 2003 (the last year for which data is available), the United States' paper recovery rate hit an all-time high: 50.3 percent, or 339 pounds of paper for every man, woman and child in this country. That's up 69 percent from 1990 and 3.4 percent from 2002.
But, when it comes to the type of environmental program that is going to make a difference for the planet, your customers and your bottom line, recycling is just one piece of the pie. As former Direct Marketing Association (DMA) President and CEO H. Robert Weintzen points out in his introduction to the third edition of the DMA's Environmental Resource for Direct Marketers, "environmental awareness today encompasses broader issues, such as being knowledgeable about the source of your paper supplies, designing mailings and targeting lists to minimize waste, paying attention to packing materials, and communicating your environmental commitment to customers, legislators and other stakeholders."
Developing such a comprehensive program may seem a daunting task, and you may be asking, why bother? Well, if the benefits to the planet aren't enough to convince you, consider the positive impact it can have on your public image and your budget. For example, when your list is clean, you mail less, so you save paper, but you also spend less on printing and on postage. And when you communicate your efforts to the outside world, you reap the benefits of positive PR. Richard Goldsmith, chairman of New York City-based consultancy The Horah Group, calls this the triple bottom line. He points to McDonald's as a great example: When the fast food chain stopped using styrofoam in the 1990s, not only did it save $12 million a year, but it created a PR buzz that improved the way it was viewed by consumers.