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Striking the Right Balance

Many discussions have occurred recently about print versus digital media and the related impact on the environment. Why are they compared negatively with one another? Each has an environmental influence and each is a viable communication option. Becoming educated about both mediums is essential; and determining how best to utilize them for communication and yet reduce the environmental impact is key!

Using Digital Media

A spotlight has been placed on paper and the use of print due to environmental concern; and a push has been initiated to make everything paperless, hoping to resolve the issue. Going paperless and solely using the electronic medium does not mean there are no ramifications to the environment. The electronic medium also has an environmental footprint. The information exchange by computers may not be visible; but this does not mean that there isn’t a negative impact on our forests and the environment. Significant amounts of energy are consumed by digital media and information technology. How that energy effects our environment is just now being analyzed and studied.

The emphasis should not be on which medium has the worse environmental impact but on when to use which medium and on ways to reduce the size of the environmental footprint.

Ways exist to make sure you are making a responsible purchasing decision. Do your research to make sure the paper you purchase has fiber that comes from properly managed forests. Forest certification systems provide independent assurance that the forests are responsibly managed according to the highest standards and that these standards are adhered to throughout the supply chain. On the digital front, ratings like EPEAT and Energy Star can help you select computers that are energy efficient.

To Print or Not to Print?
Truth be known, both print and digital communications have environmental costs. So how do you most responsibly decide when to view on screen and when to print?

Follow the latest research by taking a moment to scan this handy infographic.

Then pause and use the insights you’ve gained to make the right call.
If choosing pixels makes sense, consider forwarding this site to like-minded friends. 
If printing is a better option, simply click the print option for an 11" x 17" poster that you can post or pass along.

Print and digital media are complementary forms of communication and both impact the environment. The consumer should research the needs and best avenues for their tasks at hand. By doing so, they can maximize their responsibilities and minimize their negative impact on the environment.