While a good deal of the focus on environmentally sustainable production processes for direct mail and other marketing materials has centered on paper, marketers also can make more eco-oriented choices when specifying inks.
Has your company undergone an LCA? A what, you ask! A Life Cycle Assessment is like the routine breast/prostate exam that every woman/man needs to have to ensure good health and, in the case of the LCA, good standing among its customers.
It's been 40 years since the first Earth Day sent generations of marketers on a long journey toward ever-bigger April green-marketing campaigns and almost four decades since a weeping Iron Eyes Cody implored Americans to "Keep America Beautiful." But for all the green rhetoric from marketers, have the waste and pollution generated by the Great American Marketing Machine really been reduced?
Direct marketing executives are improving the image of direct mail by meeting a number of environmentally friendly standards, it has been found. Russell Parsons, a columnist for Marketing Week, noted that a recent report by the Direct Marketing Association and Royal Mail had found that 76.5 per cent or direct marketing material is now recycled.
With the economic downturn, the green discussion seems to be somewhat muted. Not "Silent Spring"-like, but certainly palpable and, frankly, disturbing given the severity of global warming and other signs of environmental degradation. Similarly, just when so-called "green mail"—recycled envelopes, soy inks, green seals, environmental messaging, etc.—was building momentum, the economy tanked and seemingly took the green gang with it.
As discussed in my Editor's Note, this issue of Inside Direct Mail will be our last print issue. While that is an unfortunate event, the good news is that IDM will continue to live ... on the web, as a weekly e-newsletter.
In an ideal direct marketing world, all actions and initiatives that are taken on behalf of the environment by an organization are not only genuine and effective, but also recognized by prospects and customers. Of course, in an ideal world, there wouldn't have been such environmental degradation wrought by modern society and business in the first place and, thus, such a dire need for these corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives today.
While the poor economy has slowed the green revolution, most direct marketers are aware that environmental consciousness among their prospects is here to stay. So while a sizable percentage of firms continue their efforts to "green the mail," those that hesitate due to cost concerns or because they believe prospects are too distracted with economic worries to register environmental concerns may want to reconsider and take those green training wheels off.
As market demand for more sustainable paper stocks drives development in the paper industry, logos and labels that convey certain environmental characteristics are starting to pop up all over the place. While more marketers are becoming familiar with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) logos related to fiber certification, those originating from the paper-making process itself are less, pardon the pun, run-of-the-mill.
Nearly seven years ago, Ann DeLaVergne got an envelope in the mail from an environmental company that was encouraging people to reduce waste by reusing envelopes. But it was sealed shut, plus it had print and labels all over it. There was no way to reuse it.