Earlier this week, I posted about the ridiculousness of Toshiba’s “No Print Day” planned for October 23. The post generated a lot of lively comments, and apparently there was such an explosion about the initiative on industry blogs, LinkedIn boards, and other places that The Dead Tree Edition did a follow-up with many of the ripest choices all in one place.
In the comments to my Digital Nirvana post, however, Noel Ward chided us all for “getting our knickers in a twist” over what is essentially a non-issue.
If our industry is so insecure that it feels that the “message” a No Print Day sends out is a bad thing we all ought to start looking for new ways to make a living.
I agree and disagree with Noel on this, and I’ll tell you why.
In an ideal world, all that Noel wrote in his comment is true and I agree with it 100%. However, this isn’t an ideal world, and while it’s true that the print jobs not produced on October 23 will be done on October 22 or October 24, there is really a larger issue here.
There is a tidal wave of misinformation that has been flowing from certain segments of the environmental camps and picked up and mass-perpetuated by the e-media proponents. From media ruckus over protecting spotted owls to the “go green — switch to online bill pay” on the backs of envelopes, consumers are bombarded with message “print hurts trees.”
When that’s all you hear, that’s what you believe. If everyone says it, it must be true, right? I would pretty much be willing to bet that the average marketer believes it’s true.
While we, in the print industry, know that’s not true, the volume coming out of that side of the issue has been so significant and so unrelenting for such a long time that is having an impact on the psyche of consumers and marketers. Seriously, what percentage of the population has heard of sustainable forestry?
I think Toshiba’s PR campaign is brilliant . . . for Toshiba. But I do think it’s short-sighted because it plays into this misperception for a short-term PR gain.
Is the “print is bad for the environment” misperception going to stop marketers from using print? I don’t think so. But if they are thinking about using e-media over print anyway, that “oh, and e-media is greener because it saves trees” mantra serves as that little extra “feel good” about doing it. It’s subtle, but it’s pervasive.
So my point wasn’t really to comment on the greenness or non-greenness of Toshiba’s ploy. Rather, it was to draw attention to printers’ responsibility to be educating their customers about the facts associated with the sustainability of paper. Printers have to be ready and able to respond to (or even pre-empt) this kind of material.
In fact, why wait for customers to bring it up? Why not use No Print Day as a conversation starter? “Hey, did you hear about . . .?” Then follow it up with some interesting facts about sustainable forestry and the environmental impact of paper versus electronic-based communications. If they haven’t heard of sustainable forestry, there could be a real opportunity there. For people who want to save forests, the idea that paper actually helps to do that is a completely new idea. These are things printers should be ready to talk about.
So let Toshiba do its thing. Use it as a platform to do yours.