Recently, I was privileged to participate on a judging panel in an international printing contest. One of the categories was environmental printing. In that category, an entrant had submitted a very interesting postcard made of 100% recycled paper and containing seeds in the paper fiber, enabling the postcard to be planted.
The message was environmental, and the use of 100% recycled stock and the ability to plant the resulting postcard and return it to the earth made a strong environmental statement. But the paper was fragile, so the postcard had to be mailed in a clear envelope to protect it during the mailing process.
As a marketing piece, the entry was impressive. But as an environmentally friendly mailing? I had to strongly disagree. I felt that mailing this piece in a clear plastic envelope (much like those above, although not from the same company) undermined the environmental message completely.
Of course, the plastic could have been made from recycled material, but I doubt it. The plastic was perfectly clear, like glass. Recycled plastic is used to make some transparent plastic substrates, but they aren’t flawless as this one was.
This raised the question: If a postcard is made of 100% recycled substrate, has a great environmental marketing message, and encourages people to plant the mailer and grow living plants, and yet is mailed in a plastic envelope, is there still environmental value? Or is the environmental value neutralized by the plastic envelope? It was a lively debate among the judges.
What do you think?
Image Credit: Univenture