Political Direct Mail Is Going Green

by Elena Veatch

Woman standing in forest

Your Political Direct Mail Can Be Eco-Friendly 

Political direct mail is one of the most effective ways to reach voters, but I’ll be the first to admit: all that paper takes a toll on our environment. At The Campaign Workshop, we’re passionate about protecting our natural world—luckily for us, so are a lot of the printers we work with. I won’t get lost in the weeds here on the eco-friendly certifications print shops are pursuing, but I’ll give you a quick low-down to put your mind at ease. TL;DR: You can run a direct mail program for your political or advocacy campaign in an eco-conscious manner.

Let’s face it—everything we do online and offline impacts our environment. Even watching Netflix, sending an email, or streaming your favorite Spotify playlist affects our natural world on some level (don’t get me started on Big Data’s role in exacerbating our noise pollution—that’s a separate Ted Talk, or a private diary entry that nobody wants to read). While we can’t reverse the Industrial Revolution (nor should we), it’s important to be conscious about our lifestyle choices, the policies we advocate for, and the companies we work with to rein in the daily damage we inevitably do. Small changes can make a world of difference in the long run, including in the political direct mail industry.

While direct mail’s carbon footprint is nothing to brag about, gather ‘round and take comfort in the fact that printers are going green (or at least making an effort to do so). Print shops across the world are working to be more eco-conscious with every step of the printing process. It’s all about sustainable materials, waste reduction, facility adjustments, and accountability (all very sexy topics).

Printers are embracing new technologies and practices to be more environmentally responsible in the supply chain, from forest to consumer. For instance, many print shops are using recycled materials and reducing their ink usage (or turning to water-based inks) to be eco-friendlier. Some mailers are even printed on materials that are plantable (would a plantable Trump mailer grow into a democracy-eroding pathological liar? Let me know what you think in the comments). Perhaps most importantly, printers are tracking their sustainability progress and setting concrete goals to improve their numbers every year. 

A lot of the printers we work with spend over a year obtaining certifications that show their dedication to reducing their carbon footprint. While you must be chomping at the bit to know the ins and outs of the entities that issue these certifications, I’ll keep it simple for you. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) offer two of the most common certification standards for American print shops. Printers across North America (and beyond) go through a robust process of updating their technologies, setting internal sustainability standards, and establishing processes to meet their goals to obtain these coveted certifications. 

A lot of work underlies the eco-friendly logos you may see on a piece of political direct mail. Many of our print partners are striving to do more to protect the environment we love and share. If you have questions about sustainability in the realm of direct mail, don’t hesitate to reach out to your team—we’re here to dig in and help you make your voter communications programs as environmentally conscious and effective as possible.

Have more questions about political direct mail? We’ve got answers for you—check out our direct mail glossary or our simple tips for great mail.