Cover Story: Green Mission
"We don't usually label our initiatives because we don't want to distract from our products," says Brophy. "But this communication, we feel, encourages our customers to recycle what we send them."
Mellon says that, not only did the "Recycle Please" logo not hurt performance during tests, but it even increased response rates slightly. Now Consumers Union plans to roll out the logo on its summer control pieces.
Sharing the Vision
Sharing its green vision-and its enthusiasm about environmental issues-is something Consumers Union does particularly well, especially when it comes to suppliers and vendors.
Brophy asks her vendors to tell her what they're doing with regard to environmental sustainability and hosts seasonal meetings with business partners to discuss practical strategies. During these meetings, Brophy and her team have learned about new environmentally friendly tactics being used in other workplaces-even simple things like recycling the rags printers use to wash the printing press blankets.
These meetings encourage ongoing dialogue, inspiring vendors to proactively return to Consumers Union when they uncover new sustainable strategies. They also help foster a "team" mentality.
"We look to vendors to give us recommendations ... about how to make a piece more efficient and how to reduce the cost without impacting the performance," Ippoliti says. "Every outside vendor is more an extended part of the team, and everybody buys into the entire campaign."
Looking ahead, Brophy believes an education in sustainable business practices is a skill set Consumers Union will increasingly seek out. "We'll look for it from our vendors and ... we'll look for it when we recruit," she says.
Consumers Union's success in implementing more sustainable marketing and production strategies has been enabled by three key factors: research, strategic planning and testing.
According to Brophy, researching issues, materials, methods, pricing and other factors is time-consuming. But it does get easier with experience. "We've become more familiar with the terminology, the processes, the right questions and so on," she elaborates. "It has also become easier because there is more information available and so many vendors are involved now in broad and meaningful ways."