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Pushing the Envelope Beyond Ordinary

More Printing, More Envelopes, More Trees!

Posted by Jerry Velona on Oct 29, 2012 12:47:00 PM

Elite Envelope Print Grows Trees

Let me state right up front: I love trees!  I love how they look. I love the shade they provide. I love how the leaves turn bright colors in the fall. Upon purchasing our home in eastern Massachusetts 13 years ago, one of the first things we did was to plant a flowering pear and a dogwood tree on the property.  They’re beautiful;  and watching them grow and thrive gives me great pleasure.  In the warm weather I love lying on my hammock under the big elm tree next to my house. 

So I hope I’ve established my bona fides as a tree lover in order for me to also say: I love printing! I love envelopes!  I love the paper industry!  That felt good to say.  But the point of this post is that the two sentiments I’ve expressed are not mutually exclusive.

What has precipitated this mini-rant is yet another marketing message; this one when I was on hold with my bank, assuring me that by switching to an on-line statement versus getting one in the mail, that I would be – yes, say it with me now – “saving a tree.”

The idea that by using less paper, we are saving trees is one of the hardiest and hoariest clichés of the past 3 or so decades.  Nevertheless it continues to be a prominent part of the “green” marketing efforts of many companies and seems to be blithely accepted by many. The logic has always escaped me.  After all, trees are a renewable resource.  Companies that produce things like lumber and paper have a built-in incentive to ensure that they continue to plant more trees in order for their businesses to thrive. Some of the largest, private forests in the world are owned by paper companies.  They are also among the most well-managed; another logical by-product of market incentives.

Do you ever hear anyone suggesting that by forgoing certain vegetables in your salad that you would be, say, saving a pepper?   When the federal government in its wisdom mandated that corn ethanol be added to all the gas we purchase for our cars thereby requiring huge new supplies of that vegetable, did a corn shortage result?  No, the exact opposite happened and we now have huge new supplies of corn. This has caused price spikes to other produce which farmers quite rationally jettisoned in order to produce more corn. That’s a separate problem and a topic for another 10 blog posts but the point is that there’s a lot more corn now than before because more is required to meet the increased demand.

The same logic applies to trees. The more paper consumed, the more trees need to be planted.  Of course many will have to be cut down in order to provide the wood and pulp; kind of like when crops are harvested before new seeds are planted in the spring.

I don't know about you but I’m not aware of any tree shortages.  The statistics I’ve seen say that there are more trees in the United States today than there were hundreds of years ago. 

It’s bad enough that we have to listen to self-serving messages from banks and utilities couched in gauzy green terms:  save a tree and, oh, by the way, save us the cost of printing and postage too.  But what I find really hard to fathom is why some printing and envelope companies will use that same rhetoric when it’s really a tacit admission that what we do for a living is somehow damaging to the environment.  That’s not true of course and it doesn’t do us any good to embrace the same arguments of those who do not have our best interests in mind.

As always, your comments are much appreciated on this important topic.

Topics: elite envelope, envelopes, printing and envelopes, going green, envelope companies going green

“Going Green” - Exactly where are we going?

Posted by Jerry Velona on Apr 5, 2011 1:08:00 PM

For decades now, most paper and envelope companies as well printers have been trying to show their “green” credentials in order to win public acceptance for their products and services. This became necessary as our most essential raw material is produced by cutting down trees which curiously, to some, is a few steps removed from murder.

cutting down tree

It began with an emphasis on marketing recycled paper. This was always a tough sell since recycled paper costs more than virgin stock. It was very common for mostly large corporations to take a position of using recycled paper only to have the buyer change his mind when he realized that this mandate crossed purposes with the one about reducing the company’s costs. However, it provided and remains a market-based method to give someone with strong convictions in this regard the opportunity to walk the walk.

In the early to mid 90’s, groups like the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) were formed to promote their vision of proper forest management and logging practices. Both private and non-profit, these groups devised a certification process carried out by third-party auditors to ensure that companies adhere to a set of procedures designed to maintain the integrity of wood and paper that comes from approved forests and is treated in a manner consistent with the groups’ objectives.

Many printers and paper converters have signed on with these companies. Presumably, some of these firms are expressing the sincere convictions of their owners and management in this regard. However, I think it’s most likely that the vast majority of the participating companies are doing so strictly to be able to trumpet their participation in an attempt to show themselves to be “good corporate citizens” while appealing to buyers who might have these convictions or work for someone who does.

I somewhat sheepishly admit to being in the latter category. We had internal debates on whether to participate but ultimately decided to do so. Elite Envelope has been FSC certified for a couple of years. I have found the people associated with the program to be professional and sincerely committed to the goals and objectives or the organization.

In the next blog post, I’ll get into what we have gotten out of this program and whether we will recommit to another year. I’ll also discuss one of the less- than-savory tactics that some use to give their customers the green cover they seek as well as some of the dubious assumptions that are behind the quest to Go Green.

There’s a great piece on this topic from last week's Wall Street Journal online which you might want to check out here

In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this topic.

Topics: elite envelope, going green, envelope companies going green

Yet Another Blog Post

From Jerry Velona - co-owner,

Elite Envelope & Graphics, Inc.

Jerry offers pertinent, often useful information on envelope converting and printing, web printing, direct mail, the post office, songs that have to do with mail and letters, digital overload and much more!

(Non-spam) Comments always appreciated.  Spread it around!


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