Cover Story: Green Mission
In fact, Consumers Union gets all of its vendors together-from its logistics company and printers to its merge/purge shop- to facilitate strategic planning for each mailing season. "Everybody sits down and works it out," says Mellon. Notably, to accommodate the extra research, planning and testing its green initiatives require, Consumers Union has moved the start of its strategy meetings up a month.
At the end of the day, decisions about whether or not to implement environmentally preferable techniques are still subject to the ultimate test: Do they support a strong response? "Some factors do outweigh others," Brophy says. "The final piece has to look like it was designed to look."
Going the extra mile for the environment can be a lengthy and labor-intensive process, but Brophy believes that shouldn't deter other organizations from going green. She is confident the efforts pay off-in the short term, by reducing costs and creating productivity gains, and, in the long term, by helping to foster a fair, just and safe planet.
Brophy says her team is "committed to continuous improvement" in all areas of its sustainability practices, and she hopes to see other industry colleagues join in. "As direct mail's environmental impact is substantially reduced, its service to society is enhanced," she says.
In the meantime, greening an organization's marketing and production practices shouldn't be viewed as an impossible mission. "Any organization can make a move to greener marketing without adding a single resource or process," Brophy stresses. "Information, tools, services and suppliers are a phone or e-mail message away. Interest, communication and leadership get the process going."
Amy Syracuse is a London-based freelance writer, who profiled AIG Travel Guard in the February 2008 issue.