Is Paper One of The Few Truly Sustainable Products Still Available for Marketers?

This week I read an interesting article about whether paper was more environmentally friendly than digital. It’s hard to think that something tangible could actually be better for the environment than something digital that seemingly uses no resources to produce.

There is no question that we live in a digital age and most people are glued to some kind of digital device. In saying that though upon reading this article it was interesting to learn that despite this, Millennials respond to a low-tech marketing approach that’s been around for centuries: Paper in a mailbox.  The stereotype that millennials are digital natives, glued to their smartphones, and the only way for marketers to reach them is through social media has some merit and social media is definitely a viable marketing strategy. Don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s all you’ll need. A strong brand message across all marketing channels is the best option.

–        84% of Millennials take the time to look through their mail.

–        64% would rather scan for useful info in the mail than email.

In April 2019, Virginia Clinton, Professor of Education, Health and Behaviour at University of North Dakota stated that upon further examination, she found that reading from paper generally led to better understanding and improved a person’s performance on tests. The person was better able to connect to the reading material. In other words, paper reading was found to be far more efficient.

Reader preference is also important of course. Research shows the majority of people — of all ages – still prefer reading from paper, they absorb the information better.’


Haven’t you ever printed something from screen so that you can digest and read it better? I have….


In Australia there is an organisation called ‘Two Sides’ which publishes useful facts about paper and the advantages of using it. Their aim is to bust myths and set out the facts about print media’s attractiveness and sustainability.

Did you know that according to Ellen McCarthur foundation, 44.7million tonnes of e-waste was generated globally in 2016 from good such as mobile phones, laptops and tablets?

Over 72% of paper consumption in Europe is recycled, making it one of the most recycled of all materials.


Sustainability paper facts.

  • Paper is made from wood, a truly renewable and sustainable resource.
  • Forest certification ensures wood comes from well managed forests.
  • Responsible wood, pulp and paper production ensures healthy growing forests.
  • Between 2005 and 2015, European forests grew by an area the size of Switzerland.
  • 71% of wood and 83% of pulp purchased by the European pulp and paper industry is FSC or PEFC certified.
  • 91% of production capacity is certified or registered according to the internationally recognised environmental management standards ISO 14001 and EMAS.

Understanding  why paper is a far more environmentally friendly than using a digital solution is a complex one and more than I can offer in this article but I do welcome you to consider print as an option when looking at ways to making sustainable marketing choices for your company or organisation. I also encourage you to take a look at the ‘Two Sides’ website. There is so much information that supports this idea!

I personally think there is room for both types of mediums, they can complement each other. What do you think? What has been your experience and what do you feel works better for your company?

We have many sustainable design solutions and encourage all our clients to print their projects on 100% recycled stock so let me know if Fresco Creative can assist your company in making your next project! We specialise in both print and digital so can help with either pathway.

About the Author: Louise Formosa is the Co-Founder and Art Director of Fresco Creative, a boutique graphic design studio located in Surry Hills. Fresco provides unique design solutions helping Australian business’ thrive with all aspects of communication. We specialise in creative branding and marketing across digital and print platforms.