You hear it all the time: “Go paperless, go green.” Many corporations and governments have encouraged customers and employees to switch to online statements and paperless transactions. But are these efforts more about cutting “green” from their expenses than preserving the planet’s resources?
Organizations that truly want to make responsible environmental choices should do so based on rigorous, peer-reviewed and verifiable life cycle assessments of each alternative. Rather than asking which is better, paper or electronic communication, we should be working to determine which combination of the two has the least impact on the environment while best meeting social and economic needs. As the population and resulting demand on resources continues to grow, a sustainable future will necessarily depend more heavily on the use of renewable and recyclable products and less on non-renewable materials and the use of fossil fuel energy.
Because the responsible manufacture and use of print and paper contributes to long-term, sustainable forest management in North America and helps mitigate climate change, it will remain an important element in our media mix. It will also continue to provide social and economic benefits that contribute significantly to the well being of North American businesses and citizens alike.
Why Message Matters
Companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield have made “go green” claims based on paper myths rather than facts. As a result, consumers are not getting an accurate story on the environmental impact for paper versus digital communications.
Verizon was another company making false “go green” claims. But after three years of encouraging them to change inaccurate and unsubstantiated environmental messaging, our efforts paid off. Our May 2016 blog shows how Verizon made major changes to their website, removing each questionable green claim we had pointed out. We hope this change in messaging will also spread to other channels, especially printed materials, and that Verizon will use the messaging reset to consider the sustainable features of print and paper.
We celebrate successes like Verizon, yet there’s still a lot of work to be done. But print and mail professionals like you can help…
Do you have a paperless misconception or teachable moment to share? Please leave a comment below. Together, our industry can keep “Go Green” moving in the right direction.