By Tom Gorman, founder and MD of TDG Print Management
‘Going green’ no longer feels like the latest marketing hype; it’s been in the public consciousness long enough now that even our grandparents are likely to have picked up on it. So you’d think that most business owners would be au fait with the ins and outs. Far from it…
Recent research conducted by TDG Print Management indicated that 58% of the business owners polled, while committed to making changes (even amidst continued economic doom and gloom), considerd their lack of knowledge to be the main barrier to improving the environmental rating of their business.
TDG Print Management, headed up by founder Tom Gorman, has spent the last few years advising clients on how best to combine commercial success with responsible print management. The company’s latest service – the Green Audit – breaks this process down, making these changes manageable and cost effective in the long-term. Here are Tom’s ten tips to keep your business green:
1. Be realistic about your bottom line and what the company should invest in
When the economic climate is tough, it pays to be pragmatic. Your company’s existing infrastructure and financial health will determine the degree to which you can make changes, so work with it, not against it and aim to incorporate long-term and short-term measures into your plans.
2. Put your supply chain under the spotlight
Unless you’re self-sufficient, the chances are your business will have some degree of reliance on external suppliers. Ensure that they follow the same (or similar) code of conduct as you otherwise aligning yourself to them could undermine your green efforts. What’s more, take the time to check how much they’re charging you and see if it’s possible to streamline costs.
3. Always strive to innovate
By pledging to improve your green credentials, you are not restricting the options available to your company. The change in mindset can in fact encourage innovation and creative thinking and inject a breath of fresh air into your business that will reap rewards.
4. ‘Greening’ your brand should not be a tactical measure.
If you let yourself think of it in those terms, it will never take root within every function of your business, which it has to. If you make it a solid tickbox on your operational checklist it will soon become second nature.
5. Collaboration can pay dividends and effect change sooner than if you work alone
There are myriad opportunities for companies to improve their green credentials but it can seem like a Herculean task when you’re starting out. Talk to your peers and colleagues to discover what their approach has been and if there are opportunities to work together for the greater good, then go for it. It’s likely that you’ll save time and money without it affecting your competitive advantage.
6. Communicate with employees and do your best to ensure that everyone in the business believes in what you’re doing
Not everyone will share the same moral agenda, but there’s no point in the management team taking decisions which affect the brand if employees do not support their vision. Before you do anything else, implement an employee engagement exercise with clear internal communications.
7. Don’t just pay lipservice when going green because customers will see through it
How many brands have put ‘green’ at the top of their marketing and PR agenda only for it to sink rapidly to the bottom once the novelty has worn off/the challenges prove too great/legislation changes? If you’re committed to doing it, treat it like any other business objective and see it through to its logical conclusion.
8. Don’t assume that local is always best – carbon footprints are complicated to calculate
Just as green beans from Kenya are not necessarily less environmentally friendly than their home-grown relatives, be aware that there are multiple factors to consider when calculating the carbon footprint of the materials you use. Global manufacture, production and import aren’t necessarily the bad guys.
9. Ethics should also play a part.
Switching to recycled paper is an admirable gesture, but if you’re trading with so-called eco-suppliers who promote unethical working practices, it’s also an empty gesture. Part of putting your supply chain under the spotlight is to ensure that you’re know who you’re working with and how closely their ethics match yours.
10. Don’t write off print without investigation – it can be green!
By reducing waste, recycling wherever possible and using materials derived from sustainable sources, it is becoming easier than ever to produce printed materials that have minimal impact on the environment. It’s easy to assume that online is ecologically sounder than print, but this isn’t necessarily the case.
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