I did something a little nuts today. I have run a small niche publishing business since 2000, and I learned very quickly that when you print books on demand and sell them retail, you either lose nearly all your profit margin by buying packing boxes or you have to charge a lot more than you might be comfortable doing. My goal was to charge less for shipping than Amazon and the others, so charging full shipping cost to cover the mailers defeated the purpose. So I looked at the stacks of envelopes and boxes in the corner, waiting to go into the trash, and thought, “Recycle!”
Now, the Strong Tower Publishing titles page has a little disclaimer:
Did you know? Strong Tower Publishing recycles. While we sell directly to the public, our direct sales are relatively small, so you may find your book packed in a recycled box or with recycled paper. This allows us to protect the environment and keep our shipping prices extremely low.
This morning, however, when I went to look for a used padded envelope or box, I was completely out of them. There was an unopened bag of yellow mailing envelopes, but I hesitated. Then there it was, the empty envelope box. Perfect! So I cut along the seams, turned it inside out, and it fit perfectly around the book. A few staples, some tape, and a mailing label. Done!
Granted, it took me 15 minutes to get it together, so I’m not suggesting that companies trade in their efficiency so every piece of scrap can have a second life. It’s the premise I think that is relevant here. We too easily trade convenience for environmental responsibility.
There are a lot of easy steps we can take to be more environmental responsible in our everyday lives, both business and personal. What little extra effort can we take that might be right at our fingertips that will make a difference?
You might think virgin mailing stock is less expensive than recycled stock, but have you checked recently? Make a few phone calls. Do an Internet search.
What do you do with your used office paper? Pitch it? Or reuse it? (I turn mine over — even my old mail — and reuse it for drafts in my laser printer.) I visited my church’s office the other day and saw a stack of paper headed for the recycling bin, all clean on the backside. I got permission to take it home and I didn’t have to buy draft paper for months! (Plus, the drafts looked like confetti, with all the colored paper. Very cool!)
Do you have a lot of padded envelopes that would otherwise go into the trash? Can you reuse them for non-critical documents? How about making them available for your employees to take home to reuse?
There are so many simple, easy, often completely free solutions for being better stewards of our resources. It just takes a moment of our time to think about them. You might not think these efforts make a big difference, but if every company took a simple, incremental step of this type, the overall impact could be huge.