Learn Sustainability From the Winners

On Sunday, August 8, 2010, creator of the Environmental Innovation Awards, WhatTheyThink, introduced a series appropriately named “Learn From the Winners”. This 10-week series will take a more in-depth look at each of the winners of the 2010 Environmental Innovation Awards and their contributions to eco-friendly, sustainable business practices. By the end of this series, WhatTheyThink promises you will “…have a checklist for a lean, green, and sustainable printing company.”

Up this week is Brown Printing, winner of the award for “Sustainability and Your Plant.” With a serious commitment to environmental stewardship and firm eco-guidelines, Brown Printing is a great example of leadership in environmental initiatives. Take a look at the article highlighting Brown Printing.

We will keep you posted as more companies are covered – and keep an eye out for Green Books N Binders, who won the award for “Beyond Environmental Sustainability” for the patent-pending Low-Carb Binder.

Big thanks to Unisource, Heidelberg USA, Neenah Paper, NewPage Corporation and of course, WhatTheyThink for all of the continued support and recognition given to their award winners.

What is Sustainability?

A few months ago, in April 2010, Green Books N Binders exhibited at the On Demand Trade Show in Philadelphia. One of the first questions we were asked is “What does sustainability mean?” Surprised by such a seemingly basic question, we then spoke to the client a little longer and came to the realization – many companies use this term but how many can truly define it?

In looking up a specific definition, I found that there are many (which could be part of the confusion), one of which is the “capacity for being continued1”. With the environment being such a huge issue for corporations, sustainability is often used to describe many actions, whether or not it truly fits.

So the question inevitably arises: what does sustainability really mean? Companies across the country have varying views on the answer (as is evidenced by the numerous definitions found), and with that comes ever-changing points of view.

For us, sustainability involves:

Taking into account the impact of our products and operations on people, planet and profit (the triple bottom line), and ensuring that we use renewable resources and minimize (or offset) the environmental impact of our daily operations.

We strive to build products that will have little to no negative impact on the environment in order to maximize the triple bottom line and keep natural resources viable and thriving for future generations.

At GBB, sustainability is a way of business. So tell us, what does sustainability mean to you??

Leave a comment and let us know.

1 www.nrcan-rncan.gc.ca/mms-smm/abor-auto/htm/kit-toc/kit-glo-eng.htm

Quantifying Environmental Impact

In today’s economy, very few manufacturers factor the environmental cost of a product or service into the retail price. If you were to factor in the environmental impact of a product’s entire lifecycle (from early design to withdraw from marketing), without forgetting cost associated with carbon neutral recycling, computers would not be $499, flat screen TVs would not be $799 and SUVs would not be $35,000. Products manufactured in the Far East would probably be far less competitive and the overall product design would be significantly different, using different raw materials for different attributes than landed cost. 

The question is what unit of measure should be used to quantify the cost of a good including the environmental impact or the benefit from one product versus another? Monetary cost (in dollars) is one way. You can account for all of the cost involved. Another way to assess total cost is through energy costs (in kilowatts); energy to harvest, produce, manufacture, distribute, use and dispose. 

Both schools of thought are relatively new. As of yet, there are no set standards for valuating and converting environmental impact to a unit of measure. The process is also quite complex, often the work of universities or environmental specialists. Some factors like cubic footage and transportation cost of various products are easy to quantify, but energy value of a pallet in a warehouse, boxes in a high rise building or quantifying the environmental impact of a disposed product in a landfill are more challenging.

Whatever becomes the reference and the exact quantification, it is obvious that using less material, less energy to produce and less fossil fuel to ship a product is key to reducing its lifecycle carbon footprint.

Get in the loop with Mohawk

Earlier this month, North American paper manufacturer, Mohawk Fine Papers, launched a new line of eco-friendly papers. Described to us as Mohawk “to the next environmental level”, every new paper produced in this line is renewed, recycled and responsible. Offering the largest selection of 100% PCW options, this line makes it easier for designers and printers alike to do the right thing for the environment without sacrificing quality or selection.

FEATURES

–          Made with renewable energy and post-consumer fiber
–          Variety of shades are available (35 to be exact), from bright white to rich black
–          8 finishes, including unique “silk coated” finish (with 50% pcw to boot!)
–          The line is FSC-certified
–          Manufactured with Green-e certified windpower
–          Made carbon neutral
–          Packaged in environmentally responsible packaging materials.

… And the list goes on

Needless to say, this new line of papers is a great step towards making sustainable options easily available in the same quality one would expect from its more environmentally harmful counterpart.

Don’t just take our word for it – see for yourself. Order a free Mohawk Loop swatchbook.

(Read the Mohawk Loop press release here.)

Green Mythbusters

There’s a lot of information out there concerning eco-friendly paper and sustainable printing. Unfortunately, most of it can be misleading.  Below, we debunk the 5 most popular myths about recycling, and show how going green is easier than you think!

Myth #1: Recycled paper is more expensive than un-recycled paper.

To the contrary, in some instances, recycled paper is actually cheaper than virgin-fiber (un-recycled) paper. In fact, we carry an extensive stock contained of solely recycled products, and much of it is the same, if not lower, cost than virgin paper.

Myth #2: Recycled paper produces sub-par results.

To the naked eye, the results appear almost identical. Colors look vibrant, and the images are clear and robust. There is often little to no quality lost from using recycled paper.  

Myth #3: Using recycled paper doesn’t make that big of a difference.

See the facts below from the EPA. Implementing recycled paper and sustainable print practices is always better for the environment than using virgin paper.

“Compared to using virgin wood, paper made with 100% recycled content uses 44% less energy, emits 38% less greenhouse gas emissions, 41% less particulate emissions, 50% less wastewater, 49% less solid waste, and of course, 100% less wood.”

Myth #4: Printing less is the best way to help the environment.

Actually, the opposite is true. As time progresses, more fibers used in making pulp for paper comes from managed forests. Managed forests treat trees as a crop, and they are planted and harvested in order to provide reusable resources (in this case, paper). So, printing responsibly actually helps produce more trees, which enhances the earth, and helps the environment overall. So go ahead, keep printing!

Myth #5: Recycling is too time consuming.

There are many things you can do that don’t take any extra time or effort. Printing only what you need when you need it is a great environmental philosophy to follow (and doing this will not only save you time but keep you more organized). If you do need to print documents, print them on recycled paper or paper that comes from managed forests – you’ll be helping trees grow! It’s all about changing the way you do things. You don’t have to sacrifice anything to go green, just remaining aware of your environmental impact is a great start.