I wrote this article in 2010 for the now-defunct Furnicology.com, one of the first sustainable furnishings websites created by and for interior designers with the intent to educate the general public as well. I talked a lot about sustainability as one of their guest bloggers, and this article is a pretty good companion piece (it was originally published in the Resources section of the website). The pricing might be outdated, but the rest of the information is still sound. I think that's a sign of good methodology, don't you? I can think of one alternative technique not mentioned here; I wonder if anyone will identify it in the comments below?-->
Greener Business Cards
by Jennifer Davidson
Networking is a necessary activity in many fields of life, not only business. It can be helpful in educational environments, creative endeavors and finding friends with similar tastes. Even in this digital age of PDAs and mobile phones, the most important thing to have when actively networking is a business card. But what if you’re a sustainable designer or an environmentally conscious consumer? Here are some tips to help you “green” your business cards.
Local is best. If you already have a relationship or experience with a local print shop, contact them and ask about more sustainable printing options. The shorter the distance your business cards travel, the more eco-friendly they are. You might even pick them up on your way to another errand!
Ask questions about paper content. Request post-consumer recycled content paper: utilizing recycled materials creates a market for more such materials. Is any pre-consumer portion from FSC-certified forests or comparable certification programs? Is the paper coated or matte? (Many types of coated paper are non-recyclable and non-biodegradable.) Is the paper chlorine-free? What weight is the cardstock? A lighter weight might be fine for your purposes or a heavier weight might avoid the need for coating.
What about ink? Are they vegetable-based or petroleum-based inks? Does the process require alcohol? How are the water and sludge treated afterward? What about the rags used in the process: how are they disposed of?
Consider the final product. Are the cards recyclable when you’ve changed personal details or job titles? What is the fewest/most cards you can print in a single run? What is the optimum amount for your use? Think about using mini-cards sized at 1.125” x 2.75” or namecards at 1.75” x 3.5” instead of the traditional business card at 2” x 3.5”. An unusual-sized card might garner more attention in a stack while conserving paper – a win all around!
But the cost! Sustainable printing makes sense but those dollars add up! Prices at my local printers in San Francisco start at $159 for 500 standard size “green” business cards, as compared to $109 for the traditional, unsustainable version. Some printers might be willing to negotiate a sponsored card; one side is your information and the other side is theirs, with a statement about the eco-friendly qualities of the cards, of course. Moo.com gives 10 full color sample cards for free (including the shipping) if you are willing to have their logo and web address printed across the bottom of the graphic side.
Can I DIY? Of course! There are many computer programs out there that will help you print a single page of cardstock and show you where to cut them if you only need 10 cards or want to play around with your design before committing to several hundred. Having your own paper cutter is helpful but your local print shop or FedEx Kinko’s can probably provide a self-service hand trimmer if you don’t want to invest in one. They can also help you print on cardstock if your home printer doesn’t support that.
No local printer? The top three returns of a Google search for ‘green business cards’ reveal:
Greenerprinter.com - eco-friendly green printing on recycled paper
MOO.com: Announcing a super eco-friendly new Moo Business Card
Eco-Office Gals helps you choose earth friendly options for your business cards
so there are plenty of options, as long as you’re alert and know what to look for.