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Sustainable Mail Packaging to Green Printing: 6 Strategies to Make Your Direct Mail More Sustainable 

direct mail

In today’s increasingly multichannel world, environmentally conscious marketers face a conundrum:

Is it possible to take advantage of the unparalleled impact of direct mail in driving customer engagement and conversion while upholding a strong commitment to sustainability? 

The short answer is yes. The long answer is… let’s take a look so we can understand why it’s “yes.” 

As Full Sail Media and Anderson Minuteman Press, we have decades of experience in both print and print marketing. We’ve seen how the industry is developed, and we have some ideas where it’s going. Today, we want to share six strategies we’ve seen that can make your next direct mail campaign more sustainable.

Why Making Direct Mail Sustainable Is Good For Business

According to the United States Postal Service, 162.1 million pieces of First-Class Mail pass through its system each day. Yes, that’s each day

That’s a lot of paper, ink, and coatings! But it’s important to look at this in context, too. The overwhelming majority of this paper is recycled. 

According to the American Forest & Paper Association, 68% of all paper and paperboard in the United States is recovered to be used again in everything from high-end commercial printing papers to toilet paper. 

But this doesn’t mean that you can’t do more to reduce your carbon footprint. And we don’t mean that in just the sense of saving the environment (which is important!). It can also have a measurable impact on your business:

  1. Cost-Effective Use of Recycled Materials – One reason for businesses to embrace sustainable direct mail options is the potential cost savings. Using recycled materials can be more cost-effective in the long run. Recycled paper and cardstock, for instance, often come at a lower price point than virgin materials. Additionally, manufacturing processes for recycled materials are becoming more efficient, reducing production costs. By incorporating these sustainable materials into your direct mail campaigns, you can decrease your operational expenses while still delivering high-quality marketing materials.
  2. Enhanced Reputation and Commitment to Sustainability – Demonstrating a commitment to sustainability can significantly boost a company’s reputation. Consumers and clients are increasingly environmentally conscious and appreciate businesses that actively take steps to reduce their carbon footprint. By adopting more sustainable direct mail practices, you signal your dedication to environmental responsibility. This not only attracts eco-conscious customers but also helps build trust and loyalty among your existing client base.
  3. Innovative Marketing Opportunities – The third point to consider is the innovative marketing opportunities that sustainable direct mail can offer. Sustainability can be a unique selling point in your marketing strategy. For example, you can leverage sustainable design elements, such as biodegradable inks and interactive, eco-friendly packaging, to make your direct mail campaigns stand out. This creative approach can captivate your target audience’s attention, leading to higher response rates and improved ROI.

Now, how do you take advantage of those benefits? Let’s get into six tangible ways you can embrace the power of direct mail and contribute to a greener future.

6 Sustainable Direct Mail Strategies Your Business Can Implement

1. Smarter Paper Sourcing

Since paper is the primary component of printed communications, your paper choices can make a huge difference in your environmental impact. 

Here are two smart choices you can make (if you aren’t making them already):  

  • Choose paper with recycled content. While trees are a renewable resource, we still want to conserve those resources wherever possible. Here at Full Sail, we offer a variety of paper stocks, but given the opportunity, we steer our clients toward chain-of-custody certified paper that typically includes 30% postconsumer waste. Our house paper stock is Rolland Enviro Print, which is made from 100% recycled fiber. 
  • Choose paper sourced from responsibly managed forests. This means choosing paper that offers eco-certifications such as FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative). Our house stock carries multiple certifications, including FSC, Preferred by Nature, BioGas Energy, among others.  

2. Utilize Vegetable-Based Inks

Vegetable-based inks come from renewable sources of energy such as soybeans, linseed, canola, and other plant oils. 

They have outstanding print quality, while simultaneously being biodegradable and having lower volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions than their traditional counterparts. (Learn more about our vegetable-based inks here.) 

3. “Greener” Digital Printing

Digital print production has lower energy requirements than large offset presses. It also has no VOCs and can run shorter, more targeted runs so there is little to no waste. 

Optimizing printing runs to minimize excess inventory helps to reduce unnecessary resource consumption. Full Sail also purchases its presses from environmentally responsible vendors. 

For example, we recently installed the new HP Indigo 15000, which includes key environmental performance features and is certified by the third party Intertek under its Green Leaf program.  

4. Targeted Mailing Lists 

Refine mailing lists to target specific audiences, minimizing the distribution of direct mail to individuals who are less likely to engage with the content. 

This approach not only gets better results, but it reduces the overall volume of printed materials, conserving resources and minimizing waste.  

5. Work with a Print Vendor Committed to Sustainability

As a marketer, there are choices you can make to commit to sustainability. One of them is to work with a printer with a similar commitment. 

For example, in addition to the commitments listed above, Full Sail Media plants 10,000 trees annually with Forest Planet as part of its commitment to carbon offsets. 

We have also recently submitted an application to be part of the State of Maryland’s Green Registry.  

6. Opt For Sustainable Mail Packaging

Sustainable mail packaging involves using packaging materials that are eco-conscious and reduce the overall environmental impact of your mail campaigns. 

This can include choices like using recycled or recyclable materials, minimizing excess packaging, and incorporating biodegradable or compostable options. 

By selecting packaging that aligns with sustainability principles, you not only reduce waste and minimize your carbon footprint but also demonstrate a commitment to eco-friendly practices.

See How Full Sail Media Can Help Make Your Direct Mail More Sustainable

As a marketer there are plenty of steps you can take to “green” your direct mail marketing and contribute to a more sustainable future. 

We’ve mentioned six here, but there are many more. (Just call us and ask.) 

Plus, consumers are increasingly looking to purchase from environmentally responsible brands, so embracing sustainability has a double benefit. It enhances your brand reputation and fosters stronger connections with your customers, too.  The planet benefits, and so do you.