Photo by Buenosia Carol from Pexels

Paper is everywhere. It’s in our homes, our offices, our cars. Most of the time it’s even in our pockets. According the WWF, Western Europe produces 91 million tonnes of paper every year. Which counts for 23% of global paper production.

For businesses both small and large, paper is important. And it counts for a large amount of our marketing efforts.

But this presents a problem: how do we reduce our environmental impact without compromising on our marketing output?

The good news is that there are ways of using paper and being environmentally responsible at the same time. All it takes is a little diligence and know-how. 

So let’s take a look at some simple and easy steps we can all follow to start reducing our paper trails, cutting down on waste, and creating more sustainable businesses. . .

Cut the fluff

Most of the time we don’t need to say as much as we do. How many times can you recall leafing through oversized sales documents? Scanning endless amounts of irrelevant information just to get to the good stuff?

By simply reducing the amount of content we produce, we’re automatically reducing our carbon footprint.

Some ways to cut down on content:

  • Use shorter words. No one likes to be confused by vocabulary. As George Orwell put it, “Never use a long word where a short one will do.”
  • Replace text with images. A picture doesn’t always say a thousand words. But it says enough. Swap out big blocks of text with images for a more succinct look.
  • Edit. Truman Capote once said,  “I’m all for the scissors. I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.” After writing, cut as much as you can. Because it can always be shorter!

Remember the old adage, quality beats quantityIt’s not how much you write, but how well you write. Blaise Pascal summed this up perfectly when, in a letter, he famously said,“If I had more time I would have written a shorter letter.”

Go recycled  

When it comes to printing, it’s much easier these days to go recycled. All good printers will provide an option of recycled paper. And you can look for paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to ensure that it’s coming from a sustainable source.

According to survey53% of consumers prefer buying from companies with a green reputation. This means that using recycled material for marketing will reflect positively on your business. All you need is a little bubble saying, “This brochure was printed on recycled paper”.

If you’re uncertain about your options, talk to your printer. If they’re good, they’ll tell you all you need to know.

Be a green advocate

It’s one thing to make the green leap. But being a constant advocate of green practises will further increase your public image.

Some tips on how to be an eco-advocate:

  • Blog about environmentally conscious practices. Go one step further and make it specific to your industry. If you’re a builder, talk about green building methods.
  • Share industry progress. If you catch wind of new eco-friendly policies within your sector. Or read an inspiring story of how a similar business is lowering their carbon footprint. Share it on social media!
  • Label the green stuff. Just like the brochure example above. You can label everything from products and packaging to services on your website. If it’s green, let your customers know.

One of the biggest advantages to becoming a green advocate is its domino effect. Once your customers start responding to your green habits, other companies will notice. And once they notice, there’s a good chance they’ll start adopting the same habits for themselves. So, in a sense, you could start a revolution.

Be transparent

Building on the above point, it’s important to be transparent with our green practises so that other businesses can follow our lead. Openly sharing information on where we’ve sourced our eco products, which resources we’ve used to expand our knowledge on the subject, and how adopting eco-friendly habits has actively benefited our businesses, can encourage others to do the same.

By being transparent, we have the opportunity to show others that we’re honest, responsible, and actively working towards creating a more sustainable future.

Cultivate a greener office

Aside from reducing paper and making our marketing materials more environmentally-friendly, we can also work towards cultivating a more waste-conscious workspace. This is incredibly easy to do, and in the end can make a huge difference to our overall environmental impact.

And not only will it make our offices cleaner and greener, but by adopting a green philosophy and incorporating eco-friendly practises into our daily working lives, it’s much more likely that these principals will start naturally affecting our marketing choices.

So then, some quick and actionable steps we can take to start reducing office waste now:

  • Use both sides of paper when printing non-essential documents (this can reduce paper waste by up to 50%).
  • Make sure to have several bins, all well-labelled, to help separate waste properly.
  • Check page margins. Reducing margin size can have a surprising impact on how much paper is required for written documents.
  • Invest in refillable ink cartridges.
  • Keep a compost bin in the office (because lots of things are compostable).
  • Consider energy-saving lightbulbs.

Embrace digital 

There are lots of wonderful things to be said about print. And, of course, at Red Square Design we’re big advocates of physical marketing styles. But the advocacy of print shouldn’t imply the demonisation of digital. In fact, there are many ways in which we all can start embracing the digital realm and using it to reduce the waste we produce through our businesses. And in the end, there’s nothing more effective for reducing paper waste than going digital.

One incredibly effective approach is to utilise cloud storage for our files. Most old-school business owners and freelancers probably own at least one wall-sized filing cabinet containing documents dating back as far as the 80s. Of course once upon a time this was the only possibility, but nowadays cloud storage offers a much more streamlined, space-saving, and waste-reducing option.

Not only can this save you a lot of stress and hassle if/when the time comes to move offices (as you won’t have three tonnes of paperwork to cart from one place to the other), but it can also make it much simpler to actually locate and transfer your documents.

Green for good

Adopting green marketing practices is a fantastic way to do something good whilst earning your living. It’s good for both the environment and PR! If you’d like more information on how to go green for your next campaign, send us an email and we can have a chat.