Direct Mail – Good for the Environment, Good for Business!

Direct Mail – Good for the Environment, Good for Business!

As a professional in the direct mail / printing industry, I’ve heard countless times “Direct Mail is Bad for the Environment”, “You’re a Tree Killer” and the ever popular – “Al Gore is going to get you…..”. Wow, are people bored or simply uninformed? Take a look at these facts:

Print Values Trees
Most paper now comes from sustainable forests. These forests are essentially “tree farms,” where trees are grown as a crop, just like broccoli or wheat. When these trees are harvested, new stocks are planted. Print on paper gives landowners a financial incentive to renew forests rather than convert them for other uses, such as agriculture or development.[1]

Print Uses “Waste”
One-third of the fiber used to make paper comes from wood chips and sawmill scraps; another third comes from recycled paper.[2] Overall, in the United States nearly 80 percent of the almost 400 paper mills use recovered fiber to make some or all of their paper products, and of these, approximately 200 mills use recovered paper exclusively.[3]

Print is Recycled
But that is not the complete story. Print on paper is recycled and reused. In 2009, for example, 63.4 percent of all paper used in the United States was recycled, and this number increases each year with more deliberate curbside and drop-off collection systems.[4] Recycled paper is used to make everything from construction products to consumer goods.

Print is Responsible
Just 11% of the world’s forests are used for paper, and in the U.S. the wood used to produce paper all comes from certified forests.[5] The Forest Steward Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) track fiber content from certified lands through production and manufacturing to the end product. There are certified forests in over 80 countries.

From sustainable forests to the renewable nature of trees and the recyclability of paper, the print and direct mail industries have a positive environmental story to tell—one in which print on paper and healthy forests thrive hand-in-hand.

[1] Edward L. Glaeser, Professor of Economics, Harvard University, “A Road Map for Environmentalism,”
Boston Globe, May 21, 2007.
[2]U.S. EPA,Office of Solid Waste.
[3]American Forest and Paper Association.
[5]International Paper, Down to Earth, “Is it Worth Printing?”