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More Reasons to Take Your Media Choices Seriously

Many people think that if they use paper, they need to pay attention to carbon emissions, but if it’s e-media, not so much. Not true. Whether it’s print or electronic, all media has a carbon footprint.

According to a report by Don Carli of the Institute for Sustainable Communications, as reported in Printing News:

According to the 2009 Deloitte Media and Entertainment Industry Outlook, about $950 billion was spent on products and services provided by media and entertainment companies in 2006. That spending is expected to grow by 38 percent to $1.3 trillion by 2011. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that approximately 360,000 tons of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas emissions are associated with each billion dollars of economic activity, which would mean the carbon footprint of the media industry could be as much as 500 million metric tons of greenhouse gas. That would be equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of 130 coal-fired power plants burning 2.6 million railcars of coal; or the annual greenhouse gas emissions from 95 million four passenger vehicles burning 56 billion gallons of gasoline.

In other words, any marketing campaign you send out has significant impacts on the environment, regardless of what media you use.

What should you take from this? Not market at all? Of course not. But make sure you are sourcing and utilizing media responsibly.

  • Use paper certifications like FSI and FSC, which address issues of proper sourcing
  • Cleanse and update your mailing lists so you aren’t mailing unnecessarily
  • Use responsible email practices with the proper opt-ins so that you are only sending email people want to receive
  • Allow customers to share with you how they want to receive marketing communications so you are matching media to their preferences
  • Use demographic and psychographic targeting to minimize waste and maximize impact
  • Use personalization to only send relevant information so you aren’t using precious environmental resources to send people information irrelevant to them

As I’ve said here before, it’s not just good for the environment. It’s good marketing. I’m just glad for the excuse to say it again.

Image source: Baseline Consulting

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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