Going green is no longer an alternative lifestyle. For a while, only the die-hard conservationists were advocating environmentally friendly practices; it was a cause that few people in our eminently “disposable” consumer society cared about. But eventually, it became trendy to embrace practices like recycling, waste management, organics, and environmentally sound manufacturing. These days, many eco-friendly movements that were once viewed as aberrations are becoming the norm, with more people driving alternate fuel, hybrid, and electric vehicles and organic products earning a spot at chain supermarkets. It’s a whole new world of personal choices that will reduce your carbon footprint, but when it comes to business, you may feel like you don’t have much say in making your professional life as green as it is at home.
However, there are many ways in which you can spread your eco-sensibilities to the workplace, and one of the easiest is through the creation of business cards. This hallmark of the professional world has long been less than friendly to the Earth. When you consider the deforestation required to make paper from wood pulp, not to mention the high-polluting manufacturing process (have you ever seen the smoke spewing from a paper mill?) and of course, the chemical inks used to print on non-recycled and non-recyclable card stock, you begin to realize the massive scope of consumptions, waste, and pollution that is par for the course with the paper industry.
But you can make a difference by simply choosing an eco-friendly alternative. Recycled card stock is a great place to start. Although you may love the look of vellum, linen, or high-shine stock, you should know that these options cannot be recycled. So choose not only a stock that is made from reclaimed paper products, but also one that won’t end up in the landfill down the road. You might be surprised by the many appealing options that will fit the bill. From there, you’ll want to select a company that utilizes greener manufacturing processes (less pollution and waste), as well as low-impact dyes. You might think that ink without chemical fixatives won’t be as good, but soy-based products come in a wide range of colors and work just as well as the toxic alternatives that permeate the printing industry (and pollute our water supply).
So now that you’re doing your part for the environment by greening up your own business practices, how can you let clients and colleagues know that your cards are eco-friendly? It’s not like you’re carrying on some kind of business card contest where you can brag about having the best cards in the office; you don’t want to come off as pretentious. But there is a way that eschews blatant self-promotion. Simply have the printer include the recycled stamp on the back of the card (you know, the triangle of green arrows) so that anyone who turns it over will see what you’re up to. Not only will this make a good impression on many people that you’re meeting for the first time; it will also spread the message that there is a multitude of ways to go green, even in business. And it may even convince a few others to do the same.