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Behind the Scenes of Sustainability at Lob
August 30, 2022

Behind the Scenes of Sustainability at Lob

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Stephanie Donelson

Our platform is where technology meets paper. While our direct mail automation platform and address verification services reduce mail waste, we also have to take careful consideration of where our business meets the environment and do our part in preserving it.

That’s where sustainability in direct mail comes in.

Sustainability has been a priority for Lob since the beginning when we made the eco-conscious choice to only use FSC-certified paper that was made up of at least 10% post-consumer waste. We also plant two trees for every one used in the production of mailpieces through our sustainability partner, Eden Reforestation Projects. And, we make sure to educate our customers on sending intelligent mail campaigns that ensure that only strategic mail is sent that will have strong ROI and reduce waste.

These practices are just a part of our sustainability story. The other part is the characters or people that sustain our sustainability efforts. We’re giving you a peek behind the scenes and introducing the key players who make sustainability a reality for Lob and its customers.

To do that, we need to travel back in time a bit.

2017: Planting a forest with code

Sustainability took the spotlight at the 2017 internal hackathon as our developers explored what positive impact we could make on the environment. That hackathon project resulted in an automated donation service that helped plant over 11,000 trees in Haiti, Madagascar, and Nepal through Eden Reforestation Projects.

“The hackathon project was a fantastic start to our sustainability journey as we could use Lob’s own technology to partner with Eden Reforestation Projects. By planting more trees than were consumed, we were able to feel a lot better about being in an industry that provides a physical product, using important resources like trees and paper products,” said Victoria Leech, former Manager of the Office of the CEO.

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Victoria and her teammates weren’t done with sustainability after the hackathon ended. The project resulted in an ongoing partnership with Eden Reforestation Projects and a decision by Lob to continue to plant more than two trees for each one used.

“It was hard to beat the excitement of the hackathon, but that being said, seeing those efforts become real, rallying the team around our project to adopt it into how we functioned, and helping design the webpage to highlight the program was an incredible feeling. We all felt we had made a positive difference in how we operated as a company,” added Leech.

Not only did that project change how Lob operate, it also strengthened its talent acquisition efforts by drawing in people who were already invested in sustainability initiatives.

Christina Louie Dyer, Lob’s Head of Social Impact and Sustainability, was one of those that found Lob's positioning in sustainability a key reason for looking at career opportunities here. She said,

One of the reasons I joined Lob was because of the impressive employee-led efforts that were already underway. I love seeing passionate employees ignite efforts from the ground up and advocate for those initiatives to become integrated into the company. To date, this hackathon project has resulted in over half a million trees planted by Lob!

Adam Lambright, Senior Supplier and Inventory Manager, who would play a role in future initiatives, told us, “I chose to join Lob for a multitude of reasons, and one of them was its focus on sustainability within the marketplace. As paper costs continue to rise and our world is ever-changing with climate change, it’s important for us to find a sustainable product for years to come.”

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2020: New growth

In 2020, we launched Lob.org, our social impact and sustainability arm, to help us double down on driving positive change.

Louie Dyer explained,

When building the foundation and strategy for Lob.org, we looked at what issues we could uniquely address with our product, people, and resources. Because we have a physical product, it was clear to us that sustainability needed to be one of our key focus areas and that we had a huge opportunity to positively impact our industry.

Our goal through Lob.org has been to drive change through sustainable and strategic direct mail. We take action on these initiatives through offering discounts on our product for nonprofits and organizations whose missions align with our focus areas, encourage our employees to use their paid volunteer time off, and partner with frontline organizations.

The launch of Lob.org is an important chapter of our story, but things really started to move forward in the next year.

2021: Off to the races with carbon offsetting efforts

In 2021, we went through our first ESG Materiality Assessment. This assessment uncovers stakeholders’ insight and indicators of importance on certain environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues.

Calibrate Partners led us through this assessment through meetings with the leadership team at Lob, running surveys and focus groups with employees, and talking with some of our print partners and customers. Founder & CEO of Calibrate Partners, Noah Miller, told us,

My work is centered on sustainable innovation and it was exciting to meet with the stakeholders at Lob who are trying to change the conversation around sustainability in the direct mail space. It was a pleasure leading them through their very first materiality assessment to help them understand what ESG issues presented risks and opportunities to both their business and key stakeholders. It was clear from our work together that product sustainability was one of the top priorities for stakeholders and critical to the longevity of the business.

After this exercise of identifying our focus areas for ESG, we partnered with SCS Consulting Services to measure emissions and found that our greatest opportunity was in product sustainability.

Hannah Fetner, Senior Technical Project Manager at SCS Consulting Services explained, "As we evaluated Lob's footprint and better understood their business model, it was clear that their Scope 1 and 2 emissions, such as business facility emissions and electrical needs, were low, and that they should focus on the impacts of their product." She went on to say,

Having done this for other companies looking to improve their sustainability efforts, our team at SCS Consulting Services knew carbon neutral certification would help Lob reach their business goals while lowering their carbon footprint. The team at SCS Consulting Services prioritizes sustainability solutions that drive meaningful change and we know a carbon neutral certification is meaningful to Lob and anyone who receives direct mail from them.

Like our partners at SCS Consulting Services, we wanted our sustainability efforts to drive meaningful change and innovate the way we think about eco-conscious direct mail. We had our north star, carbon neutral direct mail, and now we just had to make it a reality for our organization and our customers.

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2022: The sustainability standard: Carbon neutral direct mail

2022 was an action-packed chapter in our sustainability story. Through our work with SCS Consulting, we ran a product Lifecycle Assessment on all of our product offerings, from checks to self-mailers. We gathered raw material, print processes, energy, and transportation data from our print partners and paper suppliers; as well as information from the USPS on the footprint of the delivery of mail to evaluate our environmental impact.

Through this evaluation came the notion of being a carbon neutral direct mail platform. And we’re excited to share that it’s now a reality! Today, we’re announcing that all mail sent through Lob is carbon neutral.

We know many organizations are accountable for ESG goals and targets and by sending mail through us, you can report that every piece of mail you send is 100% carbon neutral, from production through ultimate disposal.

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“Being sustainable is a very important topic within Lob. I’ve been involved in organizations where sustainability is just a buzz word or checking a box, but it’s refreshing to see a company actually put focus on becoming sustainable and reducing our carbon footprint. I think it’s an exciting time to launch carbon neutral and it’s great to see Lob at the forefront of sustainability," said Lambright.

Louie Dyer added on saying, "Mail is not going away and we're proud to offer a sustainable way for organizations to continue leveraging this treasured channel to connect in an eco-conscious way."

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We’re proud of the progress we’ve made along the way to being the first in the world to provide carbon neutral direct mail across the entire lifecycle for our customers, but there are other smaller steps marketers and direct mail operators can take to think about the environment as mail goes into production. Some wise words were shared by those involved in the carbon neutral launch.

Lambright offered some insight into what other elements impact sustainability in direct mail:

If I could suggest a couple things to our customers about being more sustainable, I would first say ink and ink coverage. When designing the creative, think about how a clear and concise message can still get delivered without a lot of ink coverage. Also, please be conscious when ordering your campaigns and using all components in a timely manner. A lot of energy and time went into the production for execution and we don't want it to just sit in a warehouse gathering dust.
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With Lob, companies are able to leverage automated direct mail technology to maximize ROI while simultaneously meeting their sustainability goals. We’re entering an exciting new chapter of our sustainability story with the launch of carbon neutral and we hope you’ll become a part of our next chapter.

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