Eco-friendly Direct Mail

How to achieve Eco-friendly Direct Mail


We’ll cover:


  • Using sustainable papers with FSC and PEFC
  • Enviromail – how make your direct mail distribution climate positive (for free)


We believe that direct mail can be one of the most environmentally responsible channels of communications available to the modern marketer – even compared to the hidden environmental impact of digital (see here). But like any channel to market, it requires thought and effort to ensure it’s well targeted and to properly offset the environmental impact.

Direct mail is sometimes slammed on two fronts:

  1. It’s Junk (if it’s not targeted well enough)
  2. It’s environmentally harmful (it’s not been asked for therefore it’s a waste)


Both of which are closely linked and, interestingly, which are in everyone’s interests to mitigate – the marketer, the printer and the receiver.

environmentally friendly direct mail

Even the wrapper can be eco-friendly!

But the issue starts with the marketer. Marketers need to maximise their return on investment, and that means they need to closely understand their customers and make sure anything they send to them is relevant to the customer. If the mailing isn’t relevant, it’s not going to be effective. That’s not only a waste of their budget but can also damage prospective customer relationships.

Hence, reducing the amount of non-targeted mail is in the marketer’s best interest too.

Of course, some businesses in the past have employed a scattergun approach, mailing out information in a pretty unsophisticated way. Their hope was that they hit enough customers to make the approach worthwhile. But, as technology advances and budgets become tightened, most marketers are working hard to make sure that every penny counts.

Thankfully, data manipulation and software tools are now so ubiquitous and cheap that there’s really no excuse to not ensure your mailings are going to hit the mark. If you don’t have the tools or experience to cleanse and improve your data, Webmart offers a free data health check to ensure, for example, you’re not mailing people who’ve moved house or died. And now that the direct mail industry is able to achieve this pretty consistently, it may well mean the term ‘junk mail’ will be consigned to history very soon.

Setting the targeting issue aside, the fact is that Direct Mail does involve printing on paper or card and then distributing to customers. So it’s tempting to think that it must therefore be harmful whatever steps are taken. But that’s not actually the case. Not anymore.

Aside from interesting, biodegradable developments such as seed papers and plant-based, compostable transparent wrappers, the paper can of course be sourced from environmentally-responsible sources (FSC or PEFC certified suppliers for example) and technologies such as vegetable based inks are increasingly being used to print with. These things all minimise the environmental impact.

And these days, it’s relatively simple to ensure this process is entirely carbon-offset and more trees are planted to replace the ones used. This includes the entire path of supply, from source to printer and is part and parcel of FSC and PEFC certified papers.

It’s also the case that the vast majority of the end-users now sort our paper for recycling at home. Which means that arguably most of the DM that reaches the customer is now recycled and reused anyway.

Of course, one part of the carbon footprint with direct mail is offsetting the carbon (or equivalent) emitted through distribution. One interesting development launched by Webmart is a product called Enviromail. This offers a service to offset twice the carbon accrued through the distribution of direct mail, door drops and other letterbox marketing campaigns by using accredited carbon offset schemes. This service is entirely for free for all customers, meaning that distributing print as direct mail can now actually have a climate positive impact.



Click to visit the Enviromail website.


The Direct Marketing industry itself is looking to further improve its green credentials too. They have introduced the PAS 2020 environmental standard which aims to improve the environmental performance of direct marketing activities. That means, a campaign which conforms to PAS 2020 has to prove it has taken the environmental impact of all aspects of the campaign into consideration – maximising response rates, recyclability and reducing environmental impact of any printing, purchasing and distribution.

Direct Marketing is a tried, tested and effective method to market yourself in many sectors. Now it’s becoming greener and greener, and more and more targeted, and now we’re beginning to understand that digital marketing is not cost-free (environmentally-speaking), most of the objections to giving it a go are being swept away.