Cover Story: Green Mission
Making Processes More Efficient
Enormous opportunities exist to make environmental improvements in the processes that take direct mail pieces from concept to creation and delivery. According to Schiavone, these typically afford organizations economic benefits, as well as environmental ones.
To optimize workflows, Consumers Union sometimes leverages selective binding-it binds different mailings across product lines all at once. The mailings are ink-jetted at the same time, trucked together and mailed together, Schiavone explains.
Consumers Union also uses multiple print locations and multiple paper suppliers to minimize transport distances and cut down on carbon emissions. "It's all about consolidation and reducing fragmentation," explains Ippoliti. "All campaigns are viewed together instead of separately, so there are no silos. We consider all products, all the time, for a particular season."
Though these tactics typically reduce waste and are more cost-effective, Brophy cautions that there is a major trade-off. "Making [processes] supremely efficient-filling the trucks, using fewer trucks and traveling shorter distances-means that marketing ... has to make an accommodation because not all of these promotions were meant to mail at exactly the same time," she explains.
"We have to do an analysis of overlap on the file, and everybody has to agree that the benefit outweighs some orders we may miss because we make adjustments to combine as much work as possible ... whether in a paper order, in logistics, on press, in binding, in co-mailing or any step along the way."
Getting Consumers Involved
Though environmental awareness is growing among consumers, Ippoliti acknowledges, "It's unclear whether the average consumer ... is thinking cognitively about how an envelope package affects the environment."
For this reason, Consumers Union is committed to educating its customers, donors and prospects about the benefits of recycling the materials it puts out. The organization has joined a Magazine Publishers of America initiative to encourage people to recycle magazines. It also has tested DMA's "Recycle Please" logo (www.recycleplease.org) in its direct mail campaigns for the past year.