Writing by Becky

Improve your business’s sustainability through smarter printing

Sustainable printing meant using recycled paper and soy-based inks, twenty-plus years ago. But sustainable printing means much more now. For those of us who love printing, we’ve been glad to see more efficient tech, fewer chemicals, and increased awareness in our industry.

But for everyone else, we understand you just want your job printed. Capitalize on the benefits of printed communication while still focusing on sustainability.

Sustainable printing meant using recycled paper and soy-based inks, twenty-plus years ago. The print shop I worked for celebrated how much paper we recycled, rather than tossing it into the garbage. I cringe as I write that…

But sustainable printing means much more now. For those of us who love printing, we’ve been glad to see more efficient tech, fewer chemicals, and increased awareness in our industry.

But for everyone else, we understand you just want your job printed.

Maybe you need new stationery because they’ve changed your area code (again). You typically don’t care about how computer-to-plate technology means fewer chemicals used to get that new set of letterhead, envelopes, and business cards printed.

Or perhaps you’re designing your next major marketing campaign. You might not appreciate how new tech allows the printing of ink, foil and gloss or matte coatings at once.

However, these technologies allow you to be a responsible consumer. Your approach to printing can be one piece of your corporate social responsibility.

Back in the day (really only a couple years ago), printing inks and coatings would require one press run, sometimes two. Adding foil would be another, separate run. Each press run requires extra paper for setup to make sure everything lines up properly. So if your print shop upgraded their technology, they also reduced paper waste and energy use. Add in the bindery, where diecutting and scoring, folding and stapling, and other options take place, and the possibilities for increasing sustainability increases even more. But, these are all inside the print shop.

How can you, as a business, be smarter about your printed materials? Don’t worry, you don’t need to become an expert in printing.

Talk to your print company. They are print professionals.

Ask them about their shop. Find out how they’ve improved it. Most shops use recycled or FSC Certified paper and vegetable-based inks. They’ll definitely recycle their paper. Has your shop also upgraded their tech to computer-to-plate? If not, they still process film in order to create plates for their presses, increasing the chemicals they use. And do they recycle those plates once they are no longer useful? What about the toner from their digital presses? And how have they managed their energy use?

Remember to talk to your printer about your specific print project in the design stages. While stationary has limited options, other printed materials have tons of possibilities. Ask if they have suggestions that would allow them to print your job more efficiently. Small changes can have a big impact.

Your printer wants to give you a quality product that meets your needs. Talk to them about your goal, what you must have, and what you’d love to have. You could find out that adding a splash of foil barely adds to the cost, yet increases the impact of your mailer significantly. It’s possible you’d discover creative fold options that make your flyer fun for your clients to open. And we all know that an opened brochure is one step closer to meeting your clients’ needs (and making the sale).

Your printer is an expert on printing. Talk to them and let them help you.

And remember to share your decision to print responsibly. This matters to clients and stakeholders. Plus, communicating that your fancy mailer was designed with sustainability in mind can encourage other businesses to become smarter about their printed projects too.

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