Business Guide – Four ways to keep your printing environmentally friendly

Printing is a reality for any business – if you want to be environmentally friendly – consider how you manage your business printing. Below are some great tips to add to your list of resources for small businesses.

Waste paper has a serious effect on the environment, and reducing unnecessary printing will be high on the list of practices for environmentally-minded companies. What else can you do to ensure your printing is as green as possible?

There’s no real substitute for paper, whatever the future-gazers say. Books have been around for hundreds of years, and paper of one sort or another has for thousands. Against predictions, computer screens and e-readers haven’t replaced them yet, and it looks like they won’t – at least, not for many years to come. Whether it’s letters, flyers, or books, it’s as if holding and reading a piece of physical paper is part of our DNA.

Having said that, extraneous paper has suddenly become a moral issue. Wasting paper is seen as irresponsible, not to mention expensive – two things that businesses are increasingly aware of. Since brochure and leaflet printing, direct mailing, and postal communication are so much a part of so many companies’ day-to-day operations, the question is how to reduce the environmental impact of all that paper. Paperless offices may be some way off, but cutting down on waste is high on the agenda for many companies – to save the environment as well as money.

1. Reduce waste

The first principle is simply to make every sheet count. Too many flyers are simply thrown away because they are badly targeted, so many memos are skimmed or ignored before being put into the trash bin, and a lot of letters are never opened in the first place. It’s no wonder landfills are filling up.

Some careful research help should allow you to side-step at least some of these problems. It’s all about communicating with people in the best way. Many people are happier with emails, either in the office or amongst your customers. Flyer printing is a slightly different matter, but once again you can ensure that every piece of paper has the best chance of being picked up and retained by researching your demographic, targeting high-quality customers (ones who might be interested in your products or services) rather than high quantities of readers who will probably have little chance of getting in touch with you. In other words, make your leaflets work smarter, not harder.

2. Recycle paper

This is an obvious one, but a point that many people and businesses overlook. Much of the damage printing does is in the way its materials are sourced – specifically, where your paper comes from. Illegal logging, deforestation, and damage to natural habitats are some of the problems that go with indiscriminate paper use, along with the problems of climate change and biodiversity that go with them. Using recycled paper avoids these, although it is not a perfect solution for many reasons, it at least keeps new trees from being cut to make the paper.

3. Go into sustainable sourcing

Recycled paper can look grey and feel low-quality – not the impression you want to give with a leaflet printing campaign or other corporate material. It’s one thing to use it for internal use, another for advertising. An alternative is to work with a company that is a member of the World Land Trust or Forestry Stewardship Council. These organizations seek to protect endangered forests. Conventional or digital printing companies that are members of these will ensure that their paper comes from sustainable sources.

4. Go digital

Lastly, digital printing can provide an economical and environmentally friendly alternative to conventional print processes. Traditional printing frequently uses vast quantities of water, as well as harmful chemicals for the printing plates. Digital printing isn’t perfect, but it has many advantages over its ancestor.

Not only that, but you can economically print small quantities of leaflets or booklets, meaning you don’t risk having to throw away or pulp waste – and that you don’t have a lot of money tied up in stock. Conventional printing takes a long time to set up and therefore costs are far more per unit than for smaller runs. (However, for large print runs – such as for thousands of books – digital printing tends to be the more expensive option.) These ideas are only a starting point, but they go some way to offset your business’s environmental impact.

This article was supplied by, suppliers of quality digital printing and accredited by the Forestry Stewardship Council.