5 Reasons Why Direct Mail Is Eco-Friendly
“No trees were killed in the sending of this email. However, a whole bunch of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.”
The above is the email signature of a friend of mine. While meant to be tongue-in-cheek, it actually makes a strong, yet entirely off base point: Electronic mail is somehow less harmful to the environment than paper-based mail.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the sending of email does kill trees (I’ll discuss this more below).
Whenever I write about direct mail on my personal blog, the environmentalists come out to visit. Well, visit may not be the right word; maybe I should say they come out to hate. They must be trolling the internet looking for anything positive about direct mail to take a shot at, like drive-by haters.
So I'm going to keep it short this week, and maybe set the record straight. And you environmentalists take note, please.
Here's my question: Which is worse for the environment, direct mail or email? I think email, and here's why.
- Every email sent generates power consumption. Think of all the routers, servers, internet service providers and PCs involved. Consider all of the big-box companies that sell and service PCs. Maybe someone out there has done the math, but I'm sure there's a hard cost in terms of power consumption per email.
- Same goes for time trolling the internet looking for direct mail folks to hate on. If a computer's on, it’s using energy.
- Now here's the tricky part: Where does the energy that email and computers use come from? It’s not very clean at all, is it? Our electricity is still very much powered the dirty old way, thus the energy consumed by email and the internet isn't very clean — something environmentalist, direct mail haters don’t really talk about; truly their dirty little secret.
- Most people recycle their direct mail, catalogs and newspapers because it's the right thing to do.
- The paper industry — the backbone of the direct mail business — is heavily involved in reforestation (i.e., the planting of new trees to replace ones used for paper). In fact, and I hope some paper merchants will respond to this, reforestation efforts are usually at a ratio of 2-to-1 or greater.
Just to let you know, I recycle, and I believe in a future with clean energy. But to say that direct mail is destroying the planet? That's a weak and opportunistic argument. Direct mail is still one of the most powerful tools in a marketer’s tool bag if done according to principles.
Jim Gilbert has been creating direct marketing programs that drive superior ROI for almost 30 years. Fluent in consumer or B-to-B, creative, operations, and analytics, he marries the strategic and tactical sides of direct and social media marketing in a seamless fashion that gets results. He's CEO of a multidiscipline direct marketing agency, Gilbert Direct Marketing, Inc., which focuses on direct mail, catalogs, DRTV, telemarketing, print, alternative direct marketing media and social media marketing. Jim has been involved in start-ups, expansions and turnarounds, and is an expert in helping multichannel marketers get to the "next level." He's a former adjunct professor, teaching direct marketing at Miami International University, and is President of the Board of Directors of the Florida Direct Marketing Association. Jim loves to talk direct marketing, and has done many lectures on direct and social media marketing.