It’s Not Easy Being Green: Navigating the World of “Green” Printing

Video Creative Director
Published 2/12/13
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If the idea of “green” printing strikes you as a bit of an oxymoron, you’re certainly not alone. With the entire planet becoming more environmentally conscious, marketers are stepping up their efforts to promote a greener image. This often includes an approach that cuts back from or entirely eliminates printed materials, transitioning to a suite of digital offerings in its place. Despite the cutbacks, the need for print still remains, and the good news is that it’s been getting a greener makeover. But, before we dive-in, let’s make something clear about digital: it is not carbon neutral. Although there are certain environmental benefits to the trend of “dematerialization” that we’re currently seeing with the global shift to digital, it isn’t without its own set of environmental implications. We may be consuming less in the way of natural resources – trees, water, land, etc.; however, we’re driving the need for digital technology.

At a rate of approximately 36 million computers a year, we’re creating a booming semi-conductor industry that spits out our snazzy devices designed to deliver the goods we’ve digitized. Not only are these machines subject to upgrades every few years to keep up with ever-changing technologies, but they’re also created for the consumer populace, translating into an impressive amount of additional waste that predominantly ends up in landfills. This, in addition to the extra kilowatt-hours required to run the devices, creates additional energy expenditure. “For every 2000 kilobytes of data moving on the Internet, an amount of energy obtained from burning a pound of coal is needed to create the necessary kilowatt hours.” (Source: “Environmental Impacts of the Emerging Digital Economy”) Just some food for thought—there are benefits to both methods of marketing, and this isn’t about demonizing one over the other. It’s important to call out the myth of digital being the environmentalist’s catchall answer to marketing; it simply isn’t, but it’s still an option to consider. Moving on to what this article’s true focus is: recognizing the green developments within the print industry. This post is the first in a five-part series Miles will publish to help you know where to start if you plan to make your next print project a green one. We’ll tell you about: •Earth-conscious paper manufacturing •Recycled paper •FSC and SFI certification •Choosing an environmentally-conscious printer So, before you pitch your print, visit the Miles blog over the next four Tuesdays, and we’ll take a look at some of the ways print can become a part of your overall green marketing approach.