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On August 19th, I wrote about how “Collaboration Will Change The World“. That collaboration has planted it’s digital footprint with tens of thousands of bloggers and web-masters writing about the environment in a unified voice carried across the globe through a movement called Blog Action Day.

The day is now.

A time for every person to take a moment out of their busy day and think about the world in which we live–and what we can all do to help improve our environment.

Interestingly enough, if you’re reading this, you’re already helping.

The Internet is not only the hub of the digital information age but is also a clean, renewable energy source. And not in a way most people consider an energy source because, let’s face it, the Internet isn’t going to propel your car, light your bedroom, or cook your diner. But it will supply you with a never-ending supply of information and inspiration that can fuel your creativity.

Creativity that inspires change. Actions that create hope.

As a business owner, you hope to succeed. In fact, it’s your primary goal or else you wouldn’t have started it in the first place. You work the long hours, you pay your dues, and you market your products and/or services to your prospective customers. But if customers don’t know you exist, your business won’t either. And this is where the Internet can not only help you succeed by keeping more green in your pocket, it helps keep our environment green too.

I received a phone call his morning from a potential client who asked if I could send them some printed brochure design samples. Not an unusual request, I get hundreds of these every year. And my answer, hundreds of times a year, is the same. Which generally prompts a conversation that goes something like this.

Kristof Creative: “I’m sorry. I can’t. We don’t have any.”

Potential Client: “Oh, when do you think you’ll have some more?”

KC: “Never.”

PC: “Huh?”

KC: “We don’t print additional samples of our work because it’s environmentally unfriendly.”

PC: “Really? How so?”

KC: “Trees have to be clear cut. Trees have to be transported to the paper mill. Paper mill has waste by-product (as do almost all industries). Paper needs to be shipped to printer. Printer uses inks and chemicals and produces waste from trimmed brochures and printing blankets. Brochures have to be mailed (sometimes in envelopes, sometimes not). Brochures are read and then, the majority of time, are thrown away.

PC: “Okay. So how can I get some samples of your work for the Board to review?”

KC: “I’d be more than happy to send you a PDF file customized to your exact requirements.”

And that pretty much ends that conversation. Potential client is happy and I just saved a few bucks and helped save a tree–okay, maybe just a big branch.

Just to be clear, I have nothing against paper, paper makers, or any business or industry that uses paper because I use paper all the time — only that I try to be smart about how and when I use them. Which is my recommendation to every entrepreneur, business owner, and marketing director; Think before you print.

Ask yourself; do you really need to mail a printed brochure, product catalog or sales sheet to your customer? Or would a color PDF meet their needs?

Yes, you need to promote your business.

Yes, you need to communicate information about your products and services.

No, you don’t always have to design and print a 4-panel, 11 x 17 full bleed sales brochure to do it.

Instead, use the Internet to your advantage. Your designer should be more than capable of creating a beautiful non-bleed brochure that can be exported to PDF and emailed or printed in-house on an as-needed basis.

The other beautiful thing about PDFs (brochures or any other marketing materials) is that you can customize each one specifically for the person you’re sending it to. Additionally, if you need to thrown away an older version, you won’t be adding to the local landfill.

The same goes for your business letterhead. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on a ream of printed letterhead, have your stationary converted into a digital template. It will look the same, you’ll still be able to print color versions in-house as needed, and you’ll be able to create PDFs on the fly that can them be emailed to your customers.

As for your business cards, go ahead and print zillions of them. And don’t be afraid to spend some extra cash on the design, paper, and printing to make them really great. Business cards are an invaluable and highly underrated sales tool.

Here’s a few other simple ways you can also use the Internet to help save the environment.

  • Do some research online before buying a book. You might not only find the information you were looking for without having to buy a book, you might find a review that leads you to buy a different book than the one you started out to get.
  • Whenever possible, try to create and email PDFs instead of mailing printed business letters.
  • Adjust your computer monitor energy settings down so it “goes to sleep” or automatically turns off after a set amount of time (I set mine to five minutes).
  • Subscribe to the Observing Polarity newsletter so you can automatically received marketing tips via email.

Thanks for stopping by. Would love to hear your thoughts on saving energy and resources in the workplace.