Spreading the sustainability message - part 5

Laurel Brunner's picture
Laurel Brunner

We all know that we should be doing more to reduce environmental impacts, but how to go about doing it is not always so simple. In the graphics industry we rely on our industry associations for leadership, but it isn’t easy to lead on a topic like the environment.

It’s also not easy to know how to communicate the environment and sustainability’s importance to members, or where to start even. This is of course not true for all industry associations, and we have some excellent examples of best practise that others can follow. It is for this reason that we thought it might be helpful to have a ten point list of things industry associations might consider as part of their environmental policies for members. We’ve been sharing these ideas over the last few months and the list is coming together. Here is most of the first half of it:

1. Give members some ideas for meeting the three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We had a suggestion to add Renewable to that group. Thank you Peter Ollén in Sweden!

2. Encourage members to be aware of the energy emissions associated with a project and ideally to consider ways of adding value through mitigating environmental impacts.

3. Suggest ways that members can improve waste management throughout the supply chain.

4. Encourage the membership’s employee engagement and encourage people to think ecologically.

Our fifth item on the list is to provide members with tangible ideas for how they can raise environmental awareness, and for this the possibilities are infinite. Obviously the ideas depend on the type of business, how big it is, its existing environmental position and the type of work it produces. But even a tiny step, such as consistent messaging that paper comes from a sustainable and renewable resource, can still make a difference. It is staggering that we still get emails with a following message suggesting that people protect the environment, by not printing out the email. Do these people even begin to think about how much energy emails and servers gobble up? Or where the energy comes from to support a gazillion useless and redundant back up emails, regardless of their banality or relevance?

All over the world, the printing industry is under threat because it is still perceived as being bad for the environment. However growth is not unheard of as consumers start to embrace bespoke print increasingly produced on digital printing systems. This is something to build on, with environmental arguments that demonstrate print’s sustainability. In the 21st century, the conversation is changing and as people come back to print, industry associations are perfectly placed to help shout sustainability messages ever more loudly.

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The Verdigris Project investigates the environmental impact of print media and provides information about sustainability initiatives for the international printing community. Keep up to date with the weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner.