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As modern-day business owners, it’s crucially important that we strive to lessen our environmental impact wherever possible. Indeed, going green is no longer a niche marketing approach but a necessary step towards a more sustainable future for everyone.

But of course, any business looking to turn more environmentally-friendly corners is faced with the inevitable question: how do we do it?

The good news is that there are many ways to do it. So today we thought we’d share some simple and easy steps we can all take to start reducing our paper trails, cutting down on waste, and creating more sustainable businesses for a more sustainable future. . .

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?

When it comes to printed marketing material (leaflets, brochures, direct mail shots), simply reducing the amount of content we produce will automatically reduce the size of the physical material. Simply put: fewer words in a brochure results in a smaller brochure.

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 

In terms of printing, it’s easier now than ever before to go recycled. All good printers will provide an option for 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 materials 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.

Go compostable

Taking things a step further, if you offer any sort of physical product that requires plastic packaging, take the green route and switch to compostable.

The mind-boggling progress of modern technology has resulted in some truly remarkable innovations. One of these is the dawn of compostable packing. From cornstarch and bamboo to mushrooms, there are many different material options available.

Why make the change? According to Green Compostables, by switching to compostable packing you could reduce your carbon footprint, lower your shipping costs, and improve your brand image all in one simple move.

Be a green advocate

It’s one thing to make the green leap. But being a constant advocate of green practices will further imporove 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 small revolution.

Be transparent

It’s important to be transparent with your green efforts so that other businesses can follow your lead. Openly sharing information on where you’ve sourced your eco products, which resources you’ve used to expand your knowledge on the subject, and how adopting eco-friendly habits has actively benefited your businesses, can all encourage others to do the same.

By being transparent, you also have the opportunity to show others that you’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.

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:

  • 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 are fewer things more effective at reducing paper waste than going digital.

One incredibly effective approach is to utilise cloud storage for your 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 that was the only option, but nowadays cloud storage offers a much more streamlined, space-saving, and paper-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.

Offer an eco-friendly service or product

Going a step beyond branding, consider offering a tangible service or product that can help your customers go green too. If you’re a designer, for example, you could offer an eco-design service. This could entail a full suite of eco-friendly design practices, including sustainable printing and packaging, low-waste and low-energy production options, and guidance on different approaches to lowering your client’s campaign footprint.

Go green, literally

If your brand strives to fully and completely embrace eco-friendly practices, to the point of it being a selling point, then consider turning your branding green. It might seem a little cliché or dramatic, but it’s called “going green” for a reason.

Whether we like it or not, we’ve all come to associate the colour green with environmentalism and sustainability. So if you want your clients to perceive you through that lens, then take the plunge at paint yourself green! Simple but effective.

Promote local services and vendors

If and where possible, consider sourcing products, supplies and materials as locally as possible. Not only does this help to support your neighbouring businesses, but it can significantly reduce emissions from delivery and transport.

A classic example would be sourcing food from local farmers. But the concept can be applied across many business contexts. If you’re a designer, for example, you could switch to sourcing all your physical materials from local printers.

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.