With our own Publishing Business Conference & Expo just a couple of weeks away and then Search Engine Strategies in New York a week later, I can’t help but think how much I’m going to hear how print is dying (or is dead already), and that the Web, social networking, podcasts and some new thing another 21-year-old is creating rule the universe.
For publishers, the basic argument is that kids don’t read magazines or newspapers anymore, and spend all their time online using MySpace or Facebook, sending text messages or hanging out in Second Life. Twenty-plus years ago I rarely picked up a newspaper or magazine, except the occasional publication that came with a plastic cover on it from Larry Flynt.
There’s no doubt that sustainability and saving the environment are on the minds of more people than they were decades ago, and I continue to take a conscious approach while trying not to let hypocrisy bother me. I admire the passion of activists, and admittedly I’m far from an expert on this stuff, but like religion or politics I don’t think how much post-consumer content (PCC) I buy is anyone’s business.
For those who still feel the need to push me to no longer buy a newspaper, or read a printed magazine or book, you can start by sending me an iPhone (and pay the $60 a month voice/data plan) and buying me a Kindle, which according to Amazon is outsellng iPods and digital cameras on the e-tailer’s site (although I doubt it). Both devices likely will come in attractive boxes with a lot of wasteful paper.
After the iPhone and Kindle arrive, I will consider joining what I call the “People Without Paper” initiative if you promise to keep the following in mind.
• If you insist on not receiving “junk mail” and sign up for things like the Direct Marketing Association’s Mail Preference Service (MPS), remember that a publisher’s livelihood depends on direct mail as a way to gain new readers and renew existing subscribers. Your persistence will also hurt your neighbors, your friends and others not in publishing who work for companies that use direct mail to drive revenue and keep their jobs.
• My wife asked me last week to go to our local pizza shop and pick up a pie. When I got there, two guys were carrying dozens of boxes out from storage. And from what I’ve heard, pizza box fibers with food waste cannot be recycled, so stop eating pizza.
• Stop using toilet paper. I doubt even Google has an answer for this one, but toilet paper typically is made from new or “virgin” paper that is bleached and a known “threat” to the environment. Same goes for tissues and paper towels. Some smaller companies are pitching their environmental-friendly products, but their higher costs will continue to impact consumers’ buying behavior.
• I’m turning 40 in two weeks. I rarely open electronic greetings because of an increase in phishing scams during the past year. While companies like Recycled Paper Greetings boasts 100%-PCC cards, the big boys like Hallmark still uses recycled paper with just 20-percent PCC.
• College students use a lot of paper. While a lot of their research can be done online, apparently they still find the need to send pages to printers as some schools are requiring their students to pay to print.
• I may start a crusade on my own to eliminate the paper I must rip through when I get some new dress shirts. Maybe not. I may just start an anti-pin crusade.