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Turning CMYK into Green

Touting your shop's shrinking environmental footprint makes good business sense.

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By Peggy Middendorf

While your machines print in CMYK, what you really are printing is green-the color of money. But now, "printing green" is gaining a whole new meaning. Today, doing business is becoming more and more about being environmentally responsible and producing your products in way that is healthy and minimizes the resources needed-whether you’re in the business of producing Nike tennis shoes or outputting a wide-format building wrap that promotes that footwear.

"Sustainability" is the new buzz word. Companies are sustainable when they "develop a framework, a strategy, to integrate economic growth, social equity, and environmental management throughout the company’s operation," explains Marci Kinter, vice-president for government and business information for the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA). For instance, three companies that are doing just that include:

* Nike is looking for "sustainable product innovation." The shoe company wants to eliminate waste and toxics in its products. It defines "products" to include "shoes, apparel, and equipment, but also our offices and the processes used to generate products."

* In February of this year, Wal-Mart president and CEO Lee Scott unveiled "Sustainability 360-a company-wide emphasis on sustainability extending beyond Wal-Mart’s direct environmental footprint to engage associates, suppliers, communities and customers."

* And Microsoft has developed "corporate policies and procedures that conserve environmental resources at our facilities and in our products, packaging, and supplier operations." Its stated environmental principles include, "Make environmental stewardship part of our business relationships," which includes getting similar environmental commitments from major suppliers.

In all these examples, this basically translates to, "If you want our business, you had better adhere to our sustainable standards." And as these types of policies migrate across industries-and, importantly, down the supplier food chain-you may find that the print provider that can put the greenest foot forward will be the one most likely to get the next job.

Marketing green
What steps does your company have to take to be more green, and then how do you go about marketing that fact to prospective clients?