Questions to Ask When Buying Green Printing

Hiring a printer may not be as stressful or as important as buying a car, house or business, but it’s no less daunting especially when facing today’s economic stress. Adding to the stress is making the purchase that not only suits your needs, but also the environment.

With anything you buy, you always have to ask questions. Most importantly:

What is the environmental impact of this purchase? What is the financial impact if I buy green?

These are two good questions to ask before you even start the design process. Asking them is a great first step toward reducing the environmental impact of your purchases, and possibly reducing costs as well. The environmental impact from buying comes primarily in the use (and non-use) of natural resources to manufacture the products in the first place. If you don’t buy environmental products, you eliminate its impact.

Consider soy or waterless ink printing.

When buying your printer, explore whether your catalog can be printed with an alternative ink that has a less volatile organic compound like soy ink, a vegetable-based ink.

Per Wikipedia, volatile organic compounds are organic chemical compounds that have high enough vapor pressures under normal conditions to significantly vaporize and enter the earth’s atmosphere. is another alternative to the traditional offset that’s beginning to see an increase in availability.

The best way to find a good printer is to use one that comes highly recommended and is well-suited to the type of printing you need. Don’t be afraid to ask around. If you know someone who does business printing, find out which print vendors they use and for which types of jobs.

Reduce Your Paper Needs.

Once you’ve selected your paper, determine if you can reduce the amount of paper needed through trim size and weight. First, find out from your printer how well the trim size of your catalog matches its press equipment. Is it an efficient size that produces very little waste, or is significant excess paper being trimmed to produce your catalog? Talk with your printer about what press options are available, and work together to get your job printed on a press that minimizes waste.

Next, see if you can reduce the weight for your catalog and cover. The lighter the weight of the paper, the less fiber used in production. As an added bonus, your postage costs will be lower, as well.

Ask about the paper.

The proper materials are an important component of a good print job. Ink comes in a vast array of colors, and there are almost as many paper types, textures, weights, and name brands to choose from and the great thing is almost all paper companies are using recycled products to produce its paper. You don’t want your great print job wasted on the paper that isn’t recycled.

Other questions to ask are affordability, how complex the jobs the printer will do and will the vendors have proper parts and materials in case they are needed and are they accessible at any time. Evaluate your needs.

Once you decide on a vendor and which materials to use, have the rep walk you through the printing process before it starts. Understand the timeline of the project; be sure you know when you’re able to make changes and at what point the option to make changes costs extra. Cultivate relationships with local businesses. They could help you in your quest to go green.

Together, you will make the proper progress.

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