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Greener Pastures for Your Direct Mail


Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

Making responsible, environmentally conscious choices is always the right thing to do. This is important for us on a personal level as well as a professional level. How can direct marketers make responsible decisions when direct mail campaigns in themselves are not sustainable? Despite everyone's best intentions, the postcards and letters and flyers that come through the mail can easily end up in the trash — after all, they’re invariably (and unaffectionately) called “junk mail.”

However, there are some different approaches direct marketers are using to make their tactics greener.

A new group called the Green Marketing Coalition is striving to make “an inherently unsustainable practice at least a little bit greener” (New York Times). This group is made up of both direct marketing companies and a select few of their clients. Some members of the group include Microsoft, Washington Mutual, and OptimaHealth. The various members are all in agreement that the direct mail business is in need of some guidelines to make choices that benefit the environment.

A few examples of guidelines the coalition has come up with so far include using chlorine-free recycled paper and proofreading via digital files instead of hard copies. Guidelines also strongly recommend improving upon waste disposal standards. One way to do this is to conduct some research and choose a vendor that is committed to recycling.

As with most marketing suggestions, we would encourage you and your company to look to your data. Analyzing your mailing list thoroughly will highlight that some people on your list are no longer among the living, and therefore, should be taken off your mailing list. You may also find that there are people who are very unlikely to respond so you could take them off the list as well.

Besides the Green Marketing Coalition, the United States Postal Service is also encouraging eco-friendly marketing practices for direct mail. The USPS website offers various tips for marketers. Some of these include allowing readers the chance to opt out of future mailings, using environmentally friendly inks, and encouraging campaign recipients to recycle the mail after they are done with it.

How can your company become — as the USPS has trademarked — an “environMAIList?”

Don't Just Recycle, Upcycle
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