For as long as I can remember, the Earth was doomed. Our deserts were growing, forests shrinking, ice caps melting, ozone layer thinning, seas becoming more and more inhospitable. To be completely oblivious to the suffering of the planet, one must be Amish and live in the furthest corner of a wildlife reserve. The problems are serious and well discussed. A rare person hasn’t read at least a few out of the few billion articles published on the subject. Even those who can’t read have been taken care of: Hollywood blockbusters from The Day After Tomorrow to 2012 may not be scientifically accurate but they provide a rather graphic depiction of what is going to happen should humanity stick to its parasitic spree.
Coming into prominence in late 1980s, Environmental Marketing gained momentum in the aftermath of the Katrina disaster. Although still following the line perfectly summed up by US Vice President Becker in the aforementioned The Day After Tomorrow- “…our economy is every bit as fragile as the environment”- “A very profound change has taken place in the boardrooms of some of the largest corporations in the world”, so says Ad Age, quoting Don Carli of the Institute for Sustainable Communication. Being “green” is a great USP and as such attracts intent attention of marketers. Although some of us may at times be a little too creative in making products seem eco-friendly, all in all, a vast number of products and services successfully claim to passionately fight for Mother Earth. Leaving the efficiency of the vast Danish wind farms to politicians and ecologists and various environmental trademarks – to business moguls, I would like to say a few words about the trend that seems to have found its time: the electronic workflow.
Is Skynet the new Gutenberg?
The obvious benefit of electronic workflow is speed. One can email a document from London to San Francisco and get a reply before the printer has warmed up. Then there is the trail audit, group collaboration, automatic spell checking and so on. Working in a company that develops cloud asset management systems, I know just how much they impact the businesses that embrace the technology. An average Client saves weeks and millions a year; the large ones, ten times the amount. This is not a sales pitch: although quite unique, successful and growing, we are not exactly the monopolist of the $95 billion market.
Indeed, making industrial printing obsolete helps the planet. Ad concepts do not have to be printed on the beautiful but non-recyclable paper with bright but poisonous ink and dragged across the world by bike, van and a plane to be signed off. Bearing in mind it usually takes several rounds of amendments before an ad is media ready, you may guess just how eco-friendly cloud systems are. However, as it often happens, the story has a flip side. According to the Climate Group just a few years ago, computers, printers, mobile phones and the widgets that accompany them accounted for the emission of 830m tonnes of carbon dioxide- same as the aviation industry. Thus, although it is hard to disagree that sending CDs or samples with a courier is rather retro, it would be naïve to think that computers would save the world. Trust James Cameron- they never do. Even with a bunch of Energy Star stickers on the case.