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January 5, 2022

Buyer’s Guide for Choosing Eco-conscious Mailers

by 
Christina Louie Dyer

Even in the digital age, direct mail marketing continues to grow because of the benefits of target marketing. Direct mail should be an essential part of your omnichannel marketing strategy, but it doesn’t have to leave a huge carbon footprint. When considering various aspects of the direct mail industry—from a tree to consumers’ mailboxes—it’s crucial to understand how it can impact the environment.

Be that as it may, eco-conscious mailers are readily available. Sustainable forest management (SFM) ensures that harvesting wood and paper products meet today’s human needs while preserving resources for future generations. This renewable resource has become a valuable innovation, especially for the paper industry.

This buyer’s guide explores the paper industry and offers insight into sustainable products. You’ll learn about investing in sustainable products and the process of choosing eco-conscious mailers.

Myths and facts about direct mail

Many controversies surround the direct mail industry regarding its impact on forests, climate change, carbon emissions, waste landfills, and energy consumption. While direct mail does have some effect, many myths are far from the truth.

Direct mail and deforestation

It’s often believed that trees are cut down for paper products, thereby contributing to the deforestation issues. Contrary to popular belief, since the 1940s, forest growth has continued to exceed harvesting in the United States (U.S.). That’s because old-growth trees aren’t cut down due to sustainable forestry practices.

Direct mail and landfills

Although many people receive junk mail that ends up in the trash, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, bulk advertising, including circulars and catalogs, made up only 2.4 percent of all municipal solid waste. This number is expected to decrease with a continued focus on recycling programs. Moreover, paper-based products, including direct mail, newspapers, directories, inserts, and advertisements, were reported to have a high recycling rate of 64 percent.

Direct mail and the carbon footprint

An average of 250 grams of greenhouse gas emissions is generated by a typical 20-gram mail piece, which requires half a cent in offset credit.  

Investing in sustainable products

Identifying a sustainable product can be subjective because “sustainable” can mean different things to different people and organizations. In its most basic definition, a sustainable product is produced without causing harm to the environment, communities, or individual people.

There are many opportunities to make more environmentally conscious business choices. An investment in sustainable products passes along many features and benefits for your company.

Features of sustainable products

  • Made of recycled materials
  • Recyclable or reusable
  • Produced using renewable resources
  • Won’t harm the environment
  • Doesn’t deplete natural resources
  • Considers social responsibility

Benefits of sustainable products

  • Cost savings over the life of the product
  • Decreased impact on deforestation
  • Reduced carbon footprint
  • Decreased landfill waste
  • Improved business reputation
  • Increased prospects and partnerships
  • Reduced exposure to environmental legal risks
  • More significant tax breaks and incentives
  • More opportunities to contribute to the green economy

You can achieve sustainability either through changes in processes or actions or both. Your strategies can include buying sustainable products or partnering with sustainable vendors. Your actions could come in the form of joining a carbon offset program, such as those that plant trees to compensate for environmental impacts.

The buying process for eco-conscious mailers

Once you’ve decided to consider the use of sustainable products, there are a few things to consider. When it comes to eco-conscious mailers, you can navigate the buying process in three easy steps.

Identify your requirements

The next step is to define what you need to accomplish the goals you’ve set for your campaigns. These requirements may include a targeted mailing list, design and content needs, printing and mailing resources. A targeted and clean mailing list is key to keeping costs down and reducing the chance that your mail is seen as junk and ends up in a landfill. Using an automated direct mail platform can help you execute a campaign from start to finish in just a few days.

Evaluate potential material against your use case

Once you’ve got a draft plan laid out, carefully evaluate your specifications and potential materials you can use. Environmentally conscious print materials can include recycled paper, chemical-free paper, pulp-free papers (not made from trees), and lighter-weight paper. You can also request printers use eco-conscious inks. To deter recipients from throwing mailers in the trash, you can add a printed message to your mailer that says something like, “Please recycle.”

Find out what their other sustainable marketers are saying

Sustainable marketing has far surpassed being a buzzword as businesses become more concerned about environmental issues. Sixty-two percent of consumers prefer to buy from brands that care about the environment, so it makes even more sense to learn all you can from other sustainable marketers.  You can see what big brands like Ikea, Amazon, PepsiCo, Unilever, L’Oréal, and others are doing to build more sustainability into their operations. Also, consider seeking information and making connections with others through an organization like the American Marketing Association (AMA).

Work with Lob

Sustainable foresting and other practices have made it easier for marketers to find environmentally conscious options. There are many advantages to buying eco-conscious mailers, from cost savings to contributing to the greater good. You’ll even reap the benefits of attracting consumers looking for businesses that share the same values.

At Lob, we also strive to partner with those who share our values related to raw material sourcing, energy efficiency, and waste management. In particular, our network of printers uses Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) paper certified for sustainable harvesting and production. We also ensure the longevity of paper by planting two trees for every one that we use in the production of our mailpieces

We focus on environmental sustainability, so work with us on your direct mail projects.

This blog provides general information and discussion about direct mail marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.

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