Friday, August 29, 2008

Apr 1, 2006 12:00 PM , By Dick Goldsmith and Meta Brophy

Several years ago, McDonald's started serving Big Macs in paper containers instead of Styrofoam holders. The reason? Environmental groups took issue with the amount of Styrofoam winding up in landfills, almost never to be decomposed.

By making the switch to paper, McDonald's saved $12 million a year on oil. The company also saved a lot of Styrofoam, a non-renewable resource, from going into landfills and did wonders for its corporate image. These three points — saving money, saving resources and being a good corporate citizen — are the components of the triple bottom line.

Everyone should be concerned about the environment, but those in direct mail should be especially sensitive. After all, the first complaint many people make about direct mail is “Look at the waste of trees in my mailbox.” As more legislative bodies contemplate do-not-mail lists, this is something to consider.

Being proactive will help to mitigate this argument, aid the environment, and save mailers money as they improve their corporate and industry image. So what can individual mailers do? First, don't think it's just up to the big boys to switch to recycled paper. As the old public service ads used to say, “Every litter bit helps.”

Start at the beginning when you plan a new campaign. Design with the environment in mind.

  • Do you need to have a poly window on your envelope? The poly makes it much more difficult to recycle. Use an open window or glassine patch made from cellulose. Some marketers are using a corn-film-based window patch. It's biodegradable and made from a renewable resource.

  • Can you reduce the size of your mailing piece? If it's smaller you'll use less paper and save money on printing (see illustration).

  • Speaking of smaller, can you use a self-mailer or postcard? Again, you'll use less paper and pay less for printing and for inserting fewer components. In other words, can you effectively generate response while having a lower environmental impact?

  • Use a preprinted indicia or a meter on your outer envelopes. Self-adhesive stamps make the envelopes more difficult to recycle. The same is true for other pressure-sensitive stickers: Try to avoid using them.

  • Print on both sides of the paper. And try using a lighter weight paper or a slightly smaller roll size. As long as the opacity is OK, you shouldn't be affecting response.

  • Look into using groundwood paper, which is made using a mechanical pulping process instead of the chemical procedure used to make freesheet paper. It takes about 50% fewer trees to make an equivalent amount of paper and many groundwood sheets look pretty good these days. Check out Abitibi Consolidated's equal offset grade or its new innovative offset. It's 20% lighter than the equivalent sheet with a comparable look and feel. Fewer trees are used to make a groundwood sheet.

  • Check with your printers to see if you're making the best use of their press sizes. By reducing the size of a component by just a little you may get more pieces out of each press sheet

  • Find out if similar components can be run on the same press sheet.

  • Do you really need four-color process printing for that rate chart? Maybe two colors will work just as well.

  • With a personalized piece, try to make all changes in the data. By keeping different lots in a single stream, you'll save money by eliminating additional plates, paper and ink. Streamlining data saves version and setup charges, too.

    Catalogers can implement these ideas as well.

  • Check trim size and find out from your printer if it's using the best size for the equipment.

  • Can you use a lighter weight paper? It's possible to save on postage if you're paying a piece/pound rate. In any event, you'll save on freight and fuel if you ship a lighter piece. Test to find out.

  • Can your catalog be as productive with fewer pages? Do a careful analysis of each item to make sure it's pulling its weight.

  • Use selective binding so customers get fewer — but more relevant — pages.

  • Are a lot of people using those bound-in envelopes to place orders? Check to see if the cost is worth it for your catalog.

  • Ask your suppliers about their environmental policies and internal practices. Online proofing provides many environmental savings. Ask your printer if it stocks recycled or certified paper, and tracks chain of custody. Does the printer use soy inks? Does it recycle wastepaper and ink?

  • Make sure you use all the tools available — targeting, modeling, merge/purge and USPS address correction — to facilitate mail delivery to your best prospects. Also, use the Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service. If people don't want your mail, why waste money and resources sending it to them?

  • Try to print near your lettershop to avoid extra transportation miles and costs. Use drop shipping to get your mail to its destination in the most direct manner. Ask whether your supplier or drop-ship destination can accept rail-side deliveries. Rail shipping uses much less fuel than trucking. If you're sending a large national mailing, it might make sense to split production to more than one shop to economize on transportation.

What can you do right now? Develop an environmental policy statement for your company. Appoint an environmental leader who will carry the ball and has management support. Put together a team of employees who also are concerned. Measure results, just like you measure all the other things you do in direct marketing. Take action and then reinvest your savings in additional initiatives. Seek partnerships with other companies, environmental organizations and the community groups where you do business.

Finally, let everyone know what you've accomplished. And encourage customers to recycle what they've received from you.

Article found here.


Paper Power

Recycled paper use — and better collection — can benefit direct mailers

If your company already has a control that possibly could be improved from an environmental standpoint, start slowly by testing every component. Like all other testing, test only one change at a time. It's a slow, evolutionary process, so start with the items that can have the biggest impact, like printing on both sides of a piece of paper.

Many people think switching to paper with recycled content is all that's required to help the environment. It does help. But other things can have a greater impact. When considering recycled paper, think post-consumer content, which is actually recovered from recycling programs. The more post-consumer fiber we use, the greater the demand grows, capturing the attention of more paper companies that might be more inclined to make an effort to collect and recycle.

Collection is a big issue. One of the bigger problems associated with collection is that so many people live in remote areas and collection is economically prohibitive. One idea that seems to make a lot of sense and warrants further discussion is for the U.S. Postal Service to use its vehicles to collect paper from these areas. The vehicles go out with mail every day; they could come back with recyclable paper. The USPS already has a recycling program for undeliverable mail and has trash bins in post offices. This would expand the program and provide an additional revenue stream, which the USPS certainly can use.

Environmentalists also are concerned with preserving our old-growth forests, which provide unique ecosystems for plant and animal life. Clear-cutting — the felling and removal of all trees from a given tract of forest — can destroy these ecosystems. Therefore, programs now exist by which the forestry practices of paper companies can be certified by independent auditors. Look for and ask your firm's printers to buy paper made from trees harvested under one of these forestry certification programs.
Dick Goldsmith and Meta Brophy

Monday, August 25, 2008

Head Back to School in Great Green Style

When summer, glorious summer, comes to an end, that means its back to school for millions of children and adults. This year, why not head back to the classroom in great green style?

Green schools are popping up everywhere, from preschools in New York City to major universities such as Harvard, Duke and Oberlin College. Both new institutions and old are switching to renewable energy, green building, and local and organic foods. They are boosting recycling, reducing waste and teaching environmental education.

At The Daily Green, we've put together this collection of articles to help you find the coolest green school supplies, pack the healthiest lunches and breakfasts, and help your schools make the greenest choices.

1. Shop for the Hottest Green School Supplies

School supplies can be a significant expense, and they can have a substantial environmental impact. Luckily, eco-friendly options are now becoming more widely available in every category. For example, avoid backpacks made of nylon or new plastics, especially PVC (vinyl), and look instead for bags made from recycled materials or natural materials, such as hemp. Choose recycled paper and paper products made from alternative fibers like hemp or kenaf. You can also get cool pens, post-its, scissors and so on with recycled content.

2. 7 Eco-Focused Classroom Projects

Get your students or children on the path to going green with these fun, hands-on experiments. There are projects for students of varying ages, from elementary school to middle school and high school. Get tips for simple classroom gardening, a project that teaches about solar power, and some ideas for helping students conduct their own basic energy audits.

3. What's the Greenest Way to Get Your Kid to School?

Before children can start learning and interacting with peers, they need to get to school. And how they do has an enormous impact on our environment as well as their health. You may be surprised at which modes of transportation are the safest for kids. We take a close look at school buses, walking and biking, "walking school buses," transit and driving. Find out what is best for you.

4. The 3 R's of School Bus Pollution Reduction

It's not just about reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic anymore; it's also about replacement (of the oldest buses), renovation (of pollution controls) and restraint (from idling). There's good reason for schools to make some changes, given that pollution from the nation's school bus fleet contributes to asthma, the leading cause of absenteeism from chronic illness. Learn how the Diesel Reduction Act of 2005, the EPA's Clean School Bus USA Program and various state initiatives are blazing a cleaner trail forward — although there are still many districts that need help.

 lunch box and an apple

Suzanne Tucker / Istock

5. 4 Ways to Green Your Kids' Lunch Box

The idea of lunch brought to and from school might seem so '80s, but the use of an actual lunch box or reusable sack is back in style, and it is a great way to reduce waste (containers made of recycled and green materials are even coming online!). There are lots of other easy ways to make your family's lunches more eco-friendly, from cloth napkins and reusable dividing containers to crowd-pleasing organic snacks and tasty meal suggestions.

 cereal bowl with milk and berries

Thomas M Perkins / Getty Images

6. 10 Ways to Eat Quick, Healthy and Green Breakfasts

Resist the trend to eat the most important meal of the day at the drive-through. Instead of filling up on high-fat sandwiches, overcooked eggs or sugary doughnuts, check out these creative and quick breakfast options, from money-saving DIY breakfast bars to easy fruit smoothies, portable sandwiches and organic coffee. You'll get a healthy start to your day, and leave a lighter footprint on the Earth.

glass of orange juice and orange

Michael Flippo / Istock

7. Why Children and Adults Need Breakfast

More than just a basic fill-up of calories, the morning meal provides important fuels for the brain, and even aids in weight control. Studies show that children learn and recall better, and concentrate longer, if they have eaten a healthy breakfast. Check out our tips for eating better, even when you are rushed to get everyone out the door on time.

peanut butter sandwich

Elke Dennis / Istock

8. Marion Nestle: Demand Healthy School Food

Nutrition Professor and author Marion Nestle explains why schools need to kiss junk food good-bye, both to combat the obesity epidemic and to foster healthier children. She says research "clearly implies that all foods sold in schools — no exceptions — should be foods that promote kids' health."

students eating in the dining hall of middlebury college

Courtesy of Middlebury College

9. 10 of the Greenest Colleges in America

If you or your children are considering higher education, it doesn't hurt to give a thought to the environmental responsibility of the schools you apply to. The good news is many colleges and universities are on the cutting edge of the sustainability movement, going way beyond simple recycling to starting organic gardens and farms, installing green roofs and solar panels, treating wastes with "living machines" and offsetting all emissions. Check out our list of some of the colleges that excite us with their commitment to going green.

northland college in ashland wisconsin boasts many renewable energy like solar panels and a wind turbine

Courtesy of Northland College

10. How Are College Campuses Going Green?

Learn more about all the specific green initiatives at colleges around North America, from the nearly 500 schools that have signed the American College and University Presidents (ACUP) Climate Commitment to go carbon neutral to programs that encourage public transportation, build bicycle lanes, establish green building guidelines and reduce waste. Many schools are also incorporating principles of sustainability into their curriculum and core philosophies.

cheryl crow and laurie david


11. VIDEO: Laurie David and Sheryl Crow on College Activism

Celebrity activist and Democratic Hollywood insider Laurie David talks to The Daily Green in the third of a six-part interview. The producer of An Inconvenient Truth discusses the Stop Global Warming college tour she and Sheryl Crow recently embarked on.

a young boy and girl walk to school, hand in hand

Nicole S. Young / Istock

12. Organic Preschool Might Sound Funny, But ...

"Organic Moms" blogger Alexandra Zissu discusses the environmental health questions to ask schools before enrolling your children in them. She also takes a look at first green preschool in New York City: That means good paints and toys, low flow toilets, organic snacks and more.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Daily Search Engine Users Closing in On Email Users

According to a recently released PEW Internet study, the percentage of internet users who use search engines on a typical day has been steadily rising from about one-third of all users in 2002, to a new high of 49%. The number of those using a search engine on a typical day is pulling ever closer to the 60% of internet users who use email on a typical day.

Underscoring the dramatic increase over time, the percentage of internet users who search on a typical day grew 69% from 2002 to May 2008. During the same six-year time period, the use of email on a typical day rose from 52% to 60%, for a growth rate of just 15%.

These new figures propel search further out of the pack, well ahead of other popular internet activities. This chart shows the percentage of internet users who did these activities "yesterday," which in a tracking survey like this one yields a picture of the "typical day" online (30% of internet users are offline on a typical day).

Daily Internet Activities (% Internet users who do this on a typical day)


% of Search Users



Online search


Check news


Check weather


Research hobby


Surf web for fun


Visit social Networking site


Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project, August, 2008

Internet users with higher levels of education are more likely to use search on a typical day, with those having at least some college education significantly more likely to do so than those with less education:


% of Search Users

College graduate

+ 66%

Some college


High school graduate or less


Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project, August, 2008

Internet users living in higher-income households are more likely to use search on a typical day, with those having an income higher than $50,000 per year being significantly more likely than those with lower incomes:


% Search Users


+ 62%

$50,000 - 74,999


$30,000 - 49,999




Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project, August, 2008

Those who use broadband connections at home are significantly more likely than those who use dial-up to have ever tried using search engines at all, by 94% to 80%. They are dramatically more likely to search on a typical day:


% Search Users

Broadband at home


Dial-up at home


Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project, August, 2008

Younger internet users have been consistently more likely to search on a typical day over the last five years of survey research.


% Search Users

18 - 29 years


30 - 49 years


50 - 64 years


65 years and older


Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project, August, 2008

While just about equal numbers of men (91%) and women (88%) report having ever used search engines at all, men who use the internet have consistently been more likely than women to integrate search into their daily lives:


% Search Users





Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project, August, 2008

While the number of internet users who search on a typical day has been steadily rising, this is the second time since the Pew Internet Project began tracking search engine use that we have seen a demonstrable leap in the numbers. The first came in late 2005, when percentage of users searching on a typical day rose from about 30% from June 2004 to about 40% in September 2005, attributed to media coverage and search engine buzz.

Currently, the percentage of users searching on a typical day has risen again, from about 40% to 49%. This rapid increase PEW attributes to:

  • Expectation to find a high-performing, site-specific search engine on just about every content-rich website that has value
  • A growing mass of web content from blogs, news sites, image and video archives, personal websites, allows internet users to turn not only to the major search engines, but also to search engines on individual sites
  • The fact that fully 55% of American homes have a high speed internet connection, which has the strongest relationship with a user's propensity to use a search engine on a typical day
  • Finally, search engine sites have become so useful and well tuned that people turn to them for an increasingly broad range of questions

Use of Online Search to Find Current Information (% of responding Internet users)

Response Date

Total Have Ever Done This

Did Yesterday

Have Not Done This

Don't Know/ Refused

Current (5/19/08)





December 2006





August 2006





Nov/Dec 2005





September 2005





May/June 2004





June 2003





Jan 2002





Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project, August, 2008

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Get Green in a Month : Week 1

On Greenovate, Emily Johnson embarks on a renovation plan to green up a 2,650 square foot home in one month.While a month doesn’t seem like much time to tackle a major project, read how you can go green by just making one simple change each day.

  1. Start with your paper. While there are a ton of items you can recycle, start with a commonly used material. Recycling paper is easy because it does not require anything but sorting.

  2. Keep it dark. When you leave for a day at the office or a night on the town, save money and energy by turning off your lights.Placing reminders on your light switches can help you remember until you get in the habit of doing so.

  3. Bring your own bag. Eliminating the need for plastic grocery and shopping bags is a great way to reduce waste. Don’t feel pressured to purchase reusable bags at the store if you aren’t up for the investment right away. You probably have a suitable bag at home to get you started.

  4. Dine in. If you frequently call upon the services of your local restaurant delivery guy, try cutting back at least one or two meals out of the week.Making your own food reduces food container waste immensely.

  5. Walk there. Find at least one neighborhood destination you can travel to on foot.Save gas and the environment by hiking there instead of heading out in your hot rod.

  6. Get muggy. Have your favorite coffee mug or reusable water bottle on hand at all times.Save the paper cups and reduce waste.

  7. Shut off the spigot. Make sure you completely turn off the water every time you finish using it.
This post was inspired by Greenovate.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Hung out to dry

Want to give a practical, little green gift to a friend, or maybe yourself? Think: clothesline. As ridiculous as it sounds, it will change your life. How? Hanging laundry out to dry will bring you more in touch with the weather, the grass, the birds and the bees.


Beloved hubby went all out and really splurged on my over the top, b-day present, a retractable clothesline. With my clothesline in place, I feel so 21st century — old tech becomes new tech. The Energy Star dryer still tumbles for me when lack of time interferes with my energy-saving plan. And when the winds of change bring rain, I drape the wet threads on some hangers and place them over my shower bar in the bath; open the window, and voila, indoor air dry to the rescue. Then I take the unmentionables, drape these little ditties on a collapsible, portable dryer and treat them to breezes that come sailing in through the windows in my living room.

Strange as it may sound, I get a cool karmic kick whenever I use the clean, renewable, sustainable power of both the wind and sun to dry my threads. Lower your carbon footprint, save some dough, and give it a go. It’s a simple way to be clean and green.


Don’t have a backyard, but want to dry your clothes naturally? There are many options available for both indoors and out, from hanging a rope either across a room or from tree to tree, to T-poles, umbrellas, retractables (above, $22) and collapsibles… @


Hills Clotheslines are sleek, sturdy and hot in Hollywood; more @ (Just above), the Extendaline Quatro 4 ($82), the Extendaline Sietro 6 ($99); available @ Letting it all hang out can be a little more time intensive, but eco-friendly, money saving and fun.

This article was found here at the Alternative Consumer.