Printed materials get a bad rap in today's "greener" world. But Lana Voga, customer service manager for ISU Printing Services, would like to set the record straight. She would even encourage you to spread the word by printing this article, not emailing it, because it's better for the environment. Find out Voga's reasoning as she responds to five statements about printing and sustainability.
- Name: Lana Voga
- Position: Customer service manager, ISU Printing Services
- Years at ISU Printing: 42
True or false: Paper is not sustainable
False. Paper comes from wood, which is a renewable, biodegradable resource unlike cell phones, computers and other electronic devices that contaminate landfills. Paper is sustainable and it's more sustainable than the carbon footprint that an email leaves. I think people misunderstand the concept of sustainability. I think people look at trash and garbage and see paper, so I think a lot of the focus on sustainability is toward paper. But they forget about the carbon footprint. Their real focus isn't on the big picture.
True or false: Email is greener than snail mail
False. On average, 62 trillion emails sent globally each year is like driving around the earth 1.6 million times. The carbon footprint of one email is the equivalent of driving a car 3 feet. A piece of paper can be recycled seven times -- it can be recycled over and over and over and over until the fibers become too short to make paper.
True or false: People understand information better when it's printed on paper than when it's on a screen
True. A recent marketing study showed that a combination of written material, like a direct mailing, along with emails or other electronic communication yielded up to a 25 percent higher response rate. People retain more of what they read in print. This study also said that information is 20 to 30 percent more difficult to read on a screen than on paper.
True or false: ISU Printing uses sustainable and recyclable papers and inks
True. Of the paper we use, 85 percent is either recycled or chain-of-custody certified. That means it comes from a sustainable forest where the production process is guaranteed environmentally sound. Foresters plant three trees for every one tree that's harvested. In the United States, four million trees are planted each day.
Most of our inks are soy-based, which means they are produced from soybeans and they contain almost no voc's (volatile organic compounds), which evaporate into the air.
True or false: ISU Printing always has an eye on sustainability
True. For example, we have significantly reduced the chemicals once needed in the printing process using a computer-to-plate process. We no longer use metal plates in our offset printing process. We recycle about 600 pounds of cardboard each week. We reuse ream boxes and delivery cartons for various purposes. We donate wood pallets to other departments and units on campus; if they can't be used they are burned at the power plant for energy. We acquire used computers from other departments for our production tracking system so we're not littering the landfill with old computers. We even print documents with a special font called Ecofont, which anyone can download. This font has small spaces in the center of the type, which requires less ink. Therefore, when you use this font, you'll use less toner and save money on printer cartridges.
We also encourage our customers to use variable data options (customized for individuals) when printing and mailing to significantly reduce the number of printed copies and save the department money.