Johnson & Quin belongs to Two Sides North America, a non-profit organization that is an advocate for the sustainability of print on paper. For companies like J&Q and our clients, the use of paper for direct mail is essential for our businesses and livelihood. One of Two Sides key campaigns is an anti-greenwash program that challenges companies when they make misleading environmental claims about print and paper. These companies may promote electronic services like e-billing with statements like “Go green – go paperless. Save trees.”
Phil Riebel, president of Two Sides North America, recently wrote an article appearing in PostPress Magazine titled “Paper and Print: Not Only Sustainable. . .But Also Essential”. ¹ It provides an excellent overview of how most people still use and prefer paper for many activities, and why organizations should understand the implications of switching from paper to digital communications.
Here are some of the reasons to challenge claims that paperless is better:
- The environmental impact of electronic transactions is far from negligible, and are often not considered by the companies making the anti-paper claims.
- Paper comes from trees, a renewable resource, and is the most recycled commodity in many developed regions of the world.
- “Save trees” messages create a false impression that forests are a finite resource rather than a renewable resource.
- Paperless claims are damaging to local economies and threaten jobs for people in the mailing, paper, print and design industries.
Research in the U.S. and U.K. indicate that consumers want a choice of communication methods, including a paper option. For a variety of reasons many people prefer paper over electronic communications. Here a few interesting statistics from the research:
- 87% of Americans agree that companies push electronic communications to save money, not to be environmentally responsible.
- Up to 30% of Americans are not online, including 65% of seniors who don’t own a computer.
- Most people prefer reading print on paper compared to screens and want to retain a paper option.
- 91% of people surveyed are unwilling to pay for paper bills.
¹ PostPress Magazine May/June 2017
² Two Sides North America, http://www.twosidesna.org