Is disposable paper marketing ecologically unfriendly?

Here comes another piece of conventional new-age “wisdom”. Flyers and leaflet are ecologically unfriendly, because they belong to what we call disposable, throw-away marketing — the “meaningless” paper-prints that are distributed in large quantities just to be rejected and thrown away by most of us. And isn’t that wasteful?

While it’s true that the both, flyer and leaflets, belong to what we call disposable, throw-away marketing, it doesn’t necessarily imply that these old-fashioned paper marketing materials are ecologically unfriendly or even worse ineffective.

Flyers and leaflet belong to what we call a disposable, throw-away marketing. The both are therefore generally considered  to be ecologically unfriendly.

I agree that throw-away marketing is wasteful, but let’s be mindful of the context. Almost everything we do in our modern societies is somehow wasteful. Plastic bags and other synthetic products that we use daily including the “clean” online marketing. (Yes, even the online marketing — it seems like an ecological form of advertising, but remember, those ads run on complex server infrastructures that requires the huge amounts of energy.)

I know, that none of the above is a good argument for wasting more paper. I get that part, but it helps me to see things in perspective. Disposable paper flyers and leaflets aren’t as harmful to our environment as we sometimes conclude. Also the paper-prints are not harmful because they are made of trees, but rather because they are often created and driven by ineffective planning and bad design.

Here is why I think that the throw-away paper marketing isn’t ecologically as harmful as it is generally believed:

  • Paper is recyclable
  • Disposable marketing materials are often already printed on recycled paper
  • Disposable paper marketing is less energy demanding when compared to for example running “clean” online ads.
  • Let’s ask ourselves how much paper we “waste” in schools, in administration and other walks of life? Throw-away marketing forms only the very small portion of it all.

To sum it all up

I like to remind my clients and myself that when we design paper marketing materials thoughtfully, with clear goals in mind, while knowing the audience, and having well-defined marketing plan, it doesn’t need to be wasteful at all. It delivers results and it justifies its raison d’etre easily.