How to to Make Your Direct Mail More Sustainable
How to to Make Your Direct Mail More Sustainable

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December 29, 2023

The environmental impact of traditional direct mail is not something that needs to be ignored by marketers. Some of the side effects on the environment from direct mail printing include trash production, greenhouse gas emissions, and an increase in energy used for printing and postal services. In order to reduce these impacts on the environment, many printers are turning to green printing or eco-friendly printing. Green printing is a printing practice that is environmentally friendly while eco-friendly printing covers all environmentally conscious printing practices.  Let’s take a look at ways to make direct mail a more sustainable print option.

Understanding the Basics of Sustainable Direct Mail

Sustainable direct mail is performed by marketers in order to eliminate waste during the print process, reduce the carbon footprint of the printer, and boost recyclability of the materials. Beyond the benefits to the environment such as using more earth-friendly materials including recycled paper and soy inks, the benefits to the brand image of a company include being seen as good citizens who care about their impact on the environment. 

Choosing Eco-Friendly Materials

Once a printer decides to invest in sustainable printing, the next step is to identify the best options for sustainable paper and printing materials. Some of the most popular examples include latex ink which is biodegradable, and eco-friendly print materials such as recycled paper, print materials that use waste from other industries in their composition, and plant-based materials. 

Eco-Friendly Printing Practices

Besides knowing that eco-friendly printing practices include environmentally friendly inks and printing processes, there are other advantages to using printers with sustainable certifications. These printers reduce the energy costs associated with printing, provide an increased image of social responsibility to the company using their services, and also minimize waste and lower emissions.

Reducing Mail Volume Through Targeting and Personalization

Direct mail marketing will not be successful if the direct mail message is sent to random households and businesses that might not be the right target for their message. Instead, businesses need to create targeted mailing lists that identify the people that will most likely respond and send them a personalized message. A targeted mailing list also reduces the number of recipients while lowering the number of direct mail materials that are printed.  Personalization increases the effectiveness of the campaign while also reducing the potential waste generated by the print process.

Sustainable Packaging and Envelopes

The act of green printing also includes choosing eco-friendly packaging options that reduce waste and still look professional. An environmentally friendly printer will offer biodegradable and compostable materials for envelopes and wrappers such as cardboard made from recycled paper pulp, organic fabrics (cotton, hemp, etc.), and bamboo which is biodegradable and compostable. 

Efficient Design and Size Optimization

The design of the mailers can be created keeping the idea of minimal waste and maximum impact in mind. A design that uses minimal packaging reduces waste since there is no extra packaging. The design can be made of recycled materials or biodegradable materials that are broken down by natural processes. The optimization of the size and weight of the envelope design reduces its environmental footprint.

Digital Integration to Minimize Physical Mail

There is a growing trend of combining physical direct mail pieces with QR codes and other digital elements. Not only does this idea allow marketers to provide more information online, there is less waste when producing the physical piece as there will be less printed materials needed thanks to the digital messaging.

Recycling and Disposal Information for Recipients

The last step in making direct mail more sustainable is educating the recipient on how to properly recycle the printed piece or dispose of it sustainably. The direct mail piece can include messaging on the mailed piece detailing its recyclability or compostability so it can be disposed of properly and reduce any waste from the mailing.

Ready to make your next direct mail campaign more sustainable? If so, contact our design team today.

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