I’ve been meaning to write about print and paper sustainability for some time now after receiving a rousing pep talk from a visiting Domtar Paper rep. Planning for our “B&B Loves Summertime in Virginia” photo contest and other outreach initiatives, however, diverted my attention.
My attention snapped back when my roommate received this postcard in the mail while she was in Las Vegas (don’t worry, I shared the content of the postcard with her before I took it to B&B):
If someone were to take inventory of the mail we receive, Total Rewards from Caesars Entertainment is the only consistent direct mail marketing that my roommate receives. Her father is big into Las Vegas, so they head West often to gamble, shop, and live a life of borrowed luxury. My roommate always keeps an eye open for these mail-pieces so she knows what offers to take advantage of when she’s in Vegas.
So when I turned over the piece, my initial thought was, “Welp, there goes another marketing message lost on my roommate.” See, my roommate shops online so much that her inbox is brimming with special offers and email promotions that she avoids her inbox much like a grumpy cat avoids puddles of water.
As I continued reading the copy, my second thought was, “Oh boy, Two Sides isn’t going to like this.”
I checked out this so-called “CodeGreen” that the postcard referred to, and found a blog owned and operated by Caesars Entertainment. Kudos to them for taking more steps towards becoming a “green” organization, but as someone whose livelihood depends on direct mail, I can’t help but protest. Especially when I saw the final line at the bottom of the postcard:
My roommate is helping to save the world by receiving emails? Well sure, she will say her vegan diet is already doing that (she has hippy tendencies). But I feel I’ve had enough discussions with her that she will agree that by not encouraging direct mail, she is doing more harm than good.
This is where the visit from the Domtar rep comes in, as he gave me a new perspective of the paper industry that I never thought of:
“Trees are the lung of the earth, and trees are the heart of the paper business. The lung needs the heart, and the heart needs the lung,” proclaimed the Domtar rep like an activist at a rally. “We harvest trees as a crop, just as we harvest corn.”
As I sorted through these statements in my head, trying to link paper to a tasty, buttery ear of corn, it hit me that someone owns the land that the trees are planted on, and that person would want to have sustainable farming to keep income coming in year after year.
Paper companies plant trees because of the demand for paper. Decrease demand and… voila… fewer trees will be planted. It is a fact that paper (and lumber) companies are the stewards of some of the largest forests in our country. Sure they cut down trees to make paper but they also replant them. If it were not for the paper companies, those forests could be cut down for development of the land—not exactly a green choice.
If we apply Domtar’s “trees are a crop” rationale with Caesar Entertainment’s “don’t use paper” statements, the later might as well send a direct mail piece that says don’t eat corn, or tomatoes, or any other food item that farmers grow because it is not environmentally sustainable.
Now here’s the kicker: This postcard was printed on recycled, FSC® certified paper using soy ink. This postcard is as environmentally friendly as all get out! They may have saved themselves if they had printed on paper that wasn’t produced and procured in a sustainable manner.
So here’s a few lessons for Caesars Entertainment to take away from this extensive rant (sorry!):
1. Ask how the customer wants to receive communication first before making the decision for them.
2. Don’t use the excuse of “environmental sustainability” to stop sending print communications.
Remember, us printers and paper advocates take this stuff seriously!