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Letter to the Industry: “Don’t Print” isn’t “Going Green”

Charlie Corr, Chief Strategist at published this open letter to the Industry highlighting the “issues” we see with the challenges the printing industry is facing with people not printing things, and somehow thinking that not printing is saving the environment.

Mr. Corr makes some good points about paper in general and it’s environmental impact.  However he fails to address the key fact that technology has replaced the need to print and archive documents.  Especially unimportant documents, such as email or web pages.

Certainly, printing out billing statements, contracts and other important documents aren’t in question (well, maybe billing statements) but the generation of workers who’s first reaction to email is to print it out needs to change.

He also doesn’t address the cost and labor associated with the safe and secure storage of the billions of pieces of paper printed each year.  In industries link insurance and health care, there are many reasons other then the environment to reduce the amount of paper printed.

Overall, the challenge the printing industry is facing is self induced.  The industry predicted such a dramatic growth of printed pages due to digital print technologies.  However, they failed to see the convenience factor of not having to print or carry around printed materials with the adoption of PDA’s, cell phones and ipods.  it wasn’t the environmental movement that caused the printing industry its problems, it was the failure of the printing industry to adapt to the changing market and the adaption of non-printing technologies, such as the internet and email, text-messages, instant messages and blogs.

Let’s face it, I could have written this blog post out on a piece of paper, using a ballpoint pen, then had someone type it, then send it off to a printer to be typeset once again, then proofs made, approved, plates made, printed 10,000 copies (to get the cheapest price / piece) and then mailed it out or stood on a street corner somewhere and handed them out.  But I didn’t.  Why? because this post cost me nothing but my time.

Paper isn’t going away, but the use of paper, especially in printing and distributing a message is changing dramatically.

So, please for Mr. Corr and the entire print industry, please print this post.  Ironically, Mr. Corr could have printed and mailed out his article as well, yet he choose to use the “new” technologies to get his message out. 

FYI, I have made it easy for you to print this, at the bottom of this post, you will find a “Printer Friendly” link to format this page for printing. Oh the irony…