Greening Print Marketing: Beyond Recycled Paper to a Deeper Philosophical Commitment

What does it take to be a truly “green” printing company? It takes a lot more than it used to. Using recycled paper, being FSC-certified, and using digital presses for appropriate run lengths is the baseline. That doesn’t impress me anymore. It’s the minimum of what companies should be doing.

Recently, I was contacted by, which calls itself a “green” printing company. At first, it sounded like the same-old pitch: an “environmentally friendly online print marketing company . . . with a commitment to develop environmentally friendly printing solutions.” Efforts include use of postconsumer paper, elimination of damaging photo chemicals from the printing process by using digital presses, and  purchasing materials from GreenSeal-certified companies.

You and everybody else. What else is new?

Then came the part of the pitch that caught my eye: efforts toward environmental responsibility that aren’t so easily seen by the customer’s eye. I mean, who looks in the bathroom?

  • The company uses a special film on all the windows to reduce the heat within the building and decrease its energy consumption.
  • All the lights in the building were changed from standard with normal transformers to fluorescent electronic bulbs.
  • Its bathroom sinks  are automated, reducing the amount of water being wasted.
  • It encourages team members to carpool and to bring their own food to reduce the carbon footprint produced when driving to restaurants at lunch time.
  • As part of its mission statement, it seeks out partnerships with nonprofit organizations that are committed to social responsibility. By building partnerships with reliable non-profit organizations, such as American Forests, it strives for “nothing less than a complete reversal of our environmental impact.”

This more unseen “green” efforts suggest that the company actually has a deeper philosophical commitment to environmental sustainability.

As the number of printers taking these additional steps (think of it as “Green Printing 2.0”), marketers looking to “green” their print marketing programs may want to look beyond the obvious. They may want to look for companies that use wind power (see related post), solar power, and like that take additional steps at the corporate level that demonstrate a deeper commitment to environmental sustainability than just the easy way out.

After all, there are more of them than ever before.

Like this post? See all of my “Greening Print Marketing” posts.

Written by Heidi Tolliver-Walker

Heidi Tolliver-Walker has been a commercial and digital printing industry analyst, feature writer, columnist, editor, and author for nearly 20 years. She is known for her meticulous research and no-nonsense perspective. In addition to having written thousands of industry articles for top industry publications, she and Richard Romano have been the face of the well-respected industry research firm The Industry Measure (TrendWatch Graphic Arts) for many years. In her more than 13-year tenure with the firm, she has written countless reports on digital printing, 1:1 (personalized) printing, Web-to-print, personalized URLs, and other hot industry applications. She is also a long-time contributing editor and columnist for Printing News, for which she writes two monthly columns, including "Personal Effects," which features monthly analysis of 1:1 (personalized) printing case studies. She is also the author of three titles for the National Association of Printing Leadership: Designer's Printing Companion, Ink & Color: A Printer's Guide, and Diversifying Via Value-Added Services. As a small, niche publisher (Strong Tower Publishing), she is active in utilizing these technologies in her own business, as well.


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