Don’t get me wrong, I too agree that direct mail is an effective way to reach potential customers, and I encourage my clients to use it in select circumstances. But, like others quoted in the Times article, I’m a bit skeptical of the effectiveness of the Green Marketing Coalition’s efforts. You can download a copy of their “Recommended Guidelines” at their site and see what I mean. Among the recommendations they list:
Purchase recycled paper.
Choose vendors and partners with internal environmental initiatives.
Use UV printing presses and comply with hazardous waste disposal standards.
Improve “list hygiene.”
Proof and edit using PDF files rather than hard copies.
Use chlorine-free, recycled paper. (this seems like a redundant point)
Benefit from tax savings by going green.
These recommendations are good ones, but to me they seem a little obvious. Shouldn’t direct marketers be doing this already? And the last “guideline,” “Companies can benefit from the tax savings associated with going green,” seems like where their real efforts lie.
According to Spyro Kourtis, president of the Hacker Group as quoted in the Times article,
“This industry just didn’t have any real green standards.”
Well, at least they’re doing something. But we’re not living and working in a vacuum here. The guidelines were developed with the help of the above-mentioned Hacker Group, which is a direct marketing firm. One has to wonder why direct email or other types of electronic marketing aren’t on their guidelines. Obviously they’re protecting their own interests, but if this were truly a broad-based initiative to really green direct marketing and do more than just greenwash and reap some tax breaks, their guidelines could easily go beyond printed junk mail.
I have to agree with the conclusion of the Times article:
“So far, the coalition’s guidelines are long on earnestness and short on truly new ideas.”