Being an environmentally conscious business is important for many reasons, from protecting our world for future generations to helping you attract and retain customers. Sustainability is not meant to be overwhelming or a burden, and there are many ways to go about it that are actionable, and even enjoyable. It’s about meeting current needs through thoughtful choices that are ecological and economic in nature. Snowball Print Marketing leads the way in how they have incorporated sustainability into their operations.
Establishing the Groundwork
Jenny Dela Cruz and co-founder, Katrina Shaw, started Snowball Print Marketing, a print marketing company headquartered out of Palo Alto in 2018 with sustainability as a foundational tenet of its mission. Snowball is currently the only woman-owned Ancient Forest Friendly certified print marketing company in the world and can use their mark on their client’s projects that are printed on 100% post-consumer wastepaper.
For small businesses, it can be intimidating to know where to start to be able to make a discernible impact. So, what’s the first step? According to Dela Cruz, begin with a review of your current practices and purchasing to understand exactly what you’re buying and then set goals. “Don’t be afraid to set lofty goals,” she says. “It’s a lot easier to attain than you think.”
Finding Creative Partnerships
The key factor in printing is paper, so finding and using environmentally responsible options is critical. Snowball immediately instituted an environmental paper policy using a nonprofit called Canopy Planet. “We understand it will be challenging to be price competitive if we commit to such high environmental standards, however it is a holistic approach and we have been able to incorporate sustainability into our current offering and believe in what we’re selling,” says Dela Cruz. Another shift is they encourage printers to have an environmental house sheet, which is a stock of preferred paper you’ve bought at a fixed cost so you can offer it to customers. Snowball also prioritizes working with printers who are part of Sustainable Green Printing to ensure they are certified regarding processes and products.
While it’s preferable to use fewer natural resources, another way to support sustainability is to help restoration. Snowball partners with PrintReleaf, a certification system and software platform that facilitates global reforestation. While Dela Cruz prefers conservation to restoration, partnership with PrintReleaf offers a significant opportunity. As of February 2022, Snowball’s customers have collectively offset 2.03 million pounds of paper consumption by reforesting 24.5 thousand trees since the company joined PrintReleaf in 2021.
Offering Sustainable Options
Supply chain issues are problematic for everyone in the print industry, making it challenging to find any stock, let alone recycled stock, and cost is a factor. It has to be part of the discussion with customers since some will be more open to paying a premium while others simply won’t.
Sometimes showcasing the use of sustainable practices can make all the difference in a marketing effort. For example, Snowball has a client, an end-of-life service company, that targets potential clients where the prospects are especially environmentally conscious. This client has a strong conservation component to its business purpose and wants all its pieces printed on 100% post-consumer waste paper. “Our client wants to inform their audience and include environmental stats on printed pieces,” says Dela Cruz. “We use our slogan ‘Green is Our Thing’ along with an Ancient Forests Friendly logo to help showcase that commitment.” They print an array of products from postcards, trifolds, bifolds, letters, and envelopes and distribute them with presorted standard direct mail.
Making Personal Choices
Beyond customer relationships and providing environmentally-friendly products, sustainability extends into the workplace. At Snowball, volunteering is encouraged as a part of the company culture. “I’m a big believer in conserving what we have and making sure we leave the earth in a better place. We have done cleanups — beaches, forests, parks,” says Dela Cruz. “We’re also involved with the organization Women in Cleantech and Sustainability – WCS. We’re a corporate sponsor and support their mentor program. Snowball also rewards employees for coming up with creative ways to be green and provides employees with “Green Spot” bonuses for doing so. Dela Cruz encourages the team to take walks outside. “It is a good way to connect and communicate our goals and what we are passionate about.”
Whether it’s a commitment to using post-consumer wastepaper, partnering with sustainable vendors, or encouraging employees to get involved in their community, there are practical steps any size business can take to be a more responsible corporate citizen. Being sustainable can be easier than you might think.
This article was originally published on Connected Spring 2022.