The dangerous consequences of plastics being dumped in our oceans cannot have escaped anyone’s notice. Thanks in part to David Attenborough’s documentary The Blue Planet, the focus on the issue is propagating far and wide and certainly makes everyone think more deeply about the impact we have on the environment.
Today I was looking at paper stock options for a new corporate brochure we are producing to showcase our business. The look and feel of the material are really important to me, but I wasn’t expecting to feel a sudden pang of guilt! As a company we have just achieved ISO 14001 which recognises our commitment to running an effective environmental management system, so why am I considering a glossy plastic-coated paper that would only serve to compound the plastics problem? At that point it became a simple decision – reject the gloss and consider the bigger picture.
But would it look dull and ‘lifeless’? No, it actually looks really good. My concern was that uncoated stock might look like a cheap flyer but modern stock is perfect and plastic-free. So, going forward we are switching to using an eco-friendly printing supplier and will use uncoated stock paper for all of our printed material. On top of that, you can write all over it so that when I am meeting clients, they can use the brochure to make notes instead of wasting more paper, which is another cost saving for them.
As for the printing supplier themselves, we found one of the most eco-friendly companies in the UK, using paper sourced from well-managed forests and certified to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®). Their litho presses use chemistry-free plates (my daughter, a chemist, rolled her eyes at this phrase) which last longer and they use vegetable-based inks. They even use renewable energy and their delivery companies must comply with carbon emissions standards.
I know that the decision I’ve made is only one small step towards becoming the greenest company we can be, but looking for suppliers that make efforts to reduce their carbon footprint and ensure that sustainability is high on their agenda is something that we as a company strongly believe in and advocate to our own clients.
There’s still a long way to go. Am I going to buy a ‘hair shirt’? No, but I do now consider the environmental impact, as well as cost, of our most basic business decisions. I’m looking forward to continuing this approach in other areas of our business and today we start ISO 50001 (look it up) – so who knows what we can achieve!