Five Steps to ‘Greening’ Your Magazine
A printer’s perspective.
The current economic downturn may have changed the way some companies do business. For example, many publishers are scaling back on production or finding more economic ways to deliver services.
But with printed materials, including magazines, the push for more environmental and sustainable ways to green print production supply chains continues to garner strong attention. In the past, environmental concerns were pushed aside due to cost concerns however, now, customers are leading the green movement and advertisers are taking notice.
Overall, the process of publishing magazines still compares favorably in the green arena. From the ‘cradle to cradle’ approach—the period from how something is created, then recycled for a new life—magazines are truly sustaining momentum. In addition, a recent Magazine Publishers of America study found that the average weekly magazine issue emits about the same amount of carbon for an entire year as two days use of a car; a little less than a home’s two days use of electricity; and three-quarters of one year’s use of a gasoline powered lawn mower.
There are a number of actions publishers can take to make their magazines greener. One of the keys places to start is to review the entire design, production and distribution supply chain—not only an isolated element such as paper.
Here are some key areas—some obvious, others not as tried-and-true—that can help green your magazine supply chain:
• Inks and Coatings. Using Low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) inks are better than before. Going lighter on ink coverage also helps, and aqueous coatings will protect your magazines with minimal environmental impact.
• Paper. This is a huge and highly visible area with lots of nuances beyond the use of recycled paper. Papers certified under one of the main Sustainable Forestry Management Programs, such as Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) ensure that the paper has been manufactured using environmentally responsible forestry and manufacturing processes.
• Retail Distribution. Use store-level sales data to optimize print orders. Work with distributors and wholesalers to adjust order levels. Don’t try to send copies over the requested amount unless you have compelling support data.
• Mailing Lists/Co-mailing. Update your mailing lists and use good list hygiene practices. There are horror stories from the postal line about associations and other publishers not updating their membership lists and having huge numbers of undeliverable magazines. If you rent lists for subscriber solicitation, rent from companies that also employ good list practices. Undeliverable mail is pure waste that negatively impacts the environment and your budget. In regard to co-mailing, it’s a process that that combines multiple titles into a single mailstream, gets magazines deeper into the postal system with greater efficiency. Programs are more flexible than ever, with magazine mailings ranging from 5,000 to 200,000 now able to benefit from offline co-mailing systems.
• Digital Workflow. Going 100 percent digital eliminates film, chemicals and proofing materials as well as the fuel used to transport proofs back and forth.
Most importantly, self promote. As some advertisers are now insisting on reviewing a magazine’s sustainability initiatives when considering ad placements, having your readers understand what steps you have taken to green production and distribution will have an impact on ad sales.