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Greening Print Marketing: Using Social Media to Find Tree-Free Alternatives

When you’re looking for environmentally resources, where is the best place to go? If it’s business related, don’t overlook social networking sites like LinkedIn. Often, there are hundreds — if not thousands — of people in social networking groups that have vast experience you can draw upon.

Just the other day, a question in a printing industry group caught my eye. The poster was looking to print on green substrates, such as hemp, bamboo, or recycled vinyl and was looking for recommended suppliers of these products. Those recommendations came in spades, both vendors of these resources and printers and other service providers that can procure them.

Just for fun, here is a list that came from members of this particular board:

Living Tree Paper

Smock Paper

Paper Rocks (paper made from limestone and other resources—yes, paper made from rocks!)

Neenah Environment (sheets made from 50% bamboo and other non-tree material and 50% post consumer fibers)

China Printing Solutions

In addition to bamboo, members of this board recommended looking to sugar cane paper and stone paper, as well. For something really different, one member suggested Gmund Savannah. This unique substrate composition of beer drags (the waste material of the beer production), recycled beer labels, and TCF pulp.

For “green” packaging, one member recommended the following companies:

Pack America

Binders Galore


Spector & Co.

Circle Graphics has also created an eco-friendly, PVC/Vinyl alternative for large-format printing called Eco-Flexx. Eco-Flexx is made from 100% recyclable PE, is a completely chlorine-free product, and has a carbon footprint that is 60% less than traditional vinyl.

But these alternatives really greener? This is the question asked by one Linked In discussion board member. He pointed out that  like hemp and bamboo, trees are renewable resources, too, and trees from certified forests are managed responsibly.

“There are many things to consider: energy used in producing the substrate, source of energy (e.g. hydro, wind, or biomass vs. fossil fuels), distance the material is shipped, just to name a few,” he writes. “I co-authored a major study for PRIMIR [on this topic], “Sustainable Print in a Dynamic Global Market: What Going Green Means.”

Ahhh. . . . just when you thought things were getting simpler!

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

Photo courtesy of The Stock Exchange (uploaded by oscardolla)

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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