The print industry has changed enormously in the 40 years since Stag Print was founded.

In the early days, our bread and butter business was letterheads and carbon copy pads. Now it’s marketing brochures and product packaging. The common denominator throughout, however, has been paper.

Even in today’s modern digital age, the demand for real-life tangible tools remains. And indeed is growing, as the arrival of GDPR and overloaded inboxes means e-marketing is losing its edge.

Rather naively, most people believe going digital is better for the planet and paper usage is the enemy. Not so. There is much more to digital communication than meets the eye.

For example, when we receive an email we don’t think through the invisible and what goes on behind it. While the email itself is not a physical form, there is a huge amount of physical infrastructure involved to enable it to happen.

From the sender’s and recipient’s computers and phones, to the service provider’s own hardware including network and underwater cables. All of which will reach end of life at some point creating significant waste. And on top of that is the energy required to drive each and every email. Given around 200 billion emails are sent every day, that’s a lot of infrastructure!

Recent research from Two Sides, the global initiative promoting the sustainability of print and paper, has revealed that many large organisations are using misleading environmental claims – known as ‘greenwashing’ – to encourage paperless behaviour. They found that in the first half of 2019, 69 organisations were using unsubstantiated claims about print and paper’s impact on the environment.

Two Sides chairman, Martyn Eustace, said: “Consumers should not be misled and encouraged to go ‘paperless’ through the use of misleading ‘green’ marketing. The true picture of the excellent environmental benefits of paper is being overlooked by these false messages. Paper is a renewable and recyclable product that, if responsibly produced and used, can be a sustainable way to communicate. The forest and paper industries rely on sustainable forests and they are major guardians of this precious and growing resource.”

While we’re not advocating an end to all emails and e-marketing, the next time you think screen equals green, or that a paperless office is the obvious way forward, think again. It’s not always as environmentally-friendly as it appears. There has to be a balance and the paper option is not necessarily the enemy.

Read more about the Two Sides campaign to remove anti-paper messaging.