Ed #13 Balance

So what’s a person to do? Think.

In the end, the best solution isn’t to eliminate paper, but to use it well, and more wisely.

One of the most important things designers and other communicators can do is what they do best: Communicate. Talk to your printers. Ask what they can do to help you reduce your footprint. Find out what kind of environmental programs they have in place. See if they have chain-of-custody certifications, or follow ISO 14001 standards. Ask what inks they use, and the origins and content of the papers they recommend.

And ask your printers about digital printing as an option. Digital quality is now starting to rival offset printing, and it has many advantages over offset in terms of sustainability. Print-on-demand technology offers a number of major pluses—elimination or dramatic reduction of inventory issues, reduced shipping costs, much less waste overall, and when combined with targeted marketing is even more efficient—often with surprisingly little compromise on quality impression. Take a look at Ed #8, Digital Variables, to brush up.

Remember what Ben Franklin said, too: Haste really does make waste. If you allow plenty of time to order paper, for example, you can sometimes reduce the extra charges and environmental impact of delivering by truck, by using rail (depending on point of origin and delivery locations). Taking the time to proofread a job carefully will eliminate the need to reprint it when you see that the CEO’s name has been misspelled. Which, of course, also avoids the negative impact on your economic footprint that an angry CEO can have.

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