How to Make Direct Mail More Sustainable

Sustainability is increasingly important in the direct mail marketing sector, as traditionally, it uses high volumes of paper, so it’s vital to ensure it’s not wasted. Today, there are various methods of making direct mail marketing more sustainable, creating an eco-friendly industry, in line with modern trends.

In years gone by, direct mail has faced criticism for being “wasteful” due to the amount that isn’t read. However, this is something that has been addressed in recent times, as businesses and consumers become increasingly aware of the environmental impact of their everyday activities.


© Renan / Adobe

As we become more aware of the effects of the packaging on our parcels, the type of vehicle we drive, or the food we buy at the supermarket, we expect that brands will have the same values. The same importance is attached to direct mail.

Research reveals eight in ten consumers prefer to buy products and services from sustainable sellers when possible. The study by Smartest Energy says 81% of members of the public describe themselves as using brands with a “positive approach” to environmental sustainability.

So, how do you make direct mail more sustainable, while satisfying customers’ expectations that the brands they use care about the planet?

Use responsibly-sourced paper

When launching a direct mail campaign, always use responsibly-sourced paper. Consumers have probably heard a lot of misinformation about the printed word – mainly how “print is destroying our forests”. In reality, print is a recyclable and renewable resource.

Waste products including sawmill scraps, wood chips and recycled paper are usually used to manufacture paper products, rather than wood that comes directly from forests. The situation is monitored by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC).

The international industry group is tasked with setting standards for forest products, such as paper. It certifies that certain sustainability standards have been met and labels the qualifying products accordingly. The source of the paper fibres dictates the paper’s particular specification, so consumers can make an informed choice.

In 2020 and 2021, a total of 36.2% of direct mail from finance companies carried the “FSC” and “responsible sources” combination. For example, major brands, such as credit card American Express, had the FSC logo on the back of their envelopes.

Encourage recycling

Whether you’re sending out mail to businesses or individuals, a simple message saying “please recycle” on the item is a proactive way of reminding the recipient to pop it in the recycling bin when they’ve finished reading it.

According to research by Who’s Mailing What, only 40% of financial mail currently carries this polite and simple request. When it comes to direct mail from retailers, 21% reminds people to recycle, while 12.6% of mail from non-profit organisations carries the message.

Send mail to the right people

Avoid waste in direct mailing campaigns by using data to ensure you’re sending it only to the most likely people who will be interested in your products and services.

Using a professional mailing house that has up-to-date business data and consumer data lists is a simple and effective means of ensuring you’re not wasting your time, money and resources sending mail to people who won’t be interested.

For every business, no matter the size, your prospect and customer databases are crucial to success. Using data cleaning services means you’re asking an expert to clean, check and enhance your records.

This can help you to avoid sending out direct mail to individuals, businesses and addresses that are no longer valid. No one wants to be accused of sending out “junk mail” and this is a way of ensuring your mailing shots go to the right people.

Why choose Selectabase?

When looking for a partner to handle your direct marketing solutions, Selectabase offers ideal sustainable credentials. Using FSC paper and digital printers that use no chemicals and emit no gases, we also reduce trucking miles because we have access to an extensive network of mail routes through our downstream access providers. We provide a greener way to spread the word!

Please contact us for further details on how we can help your direct mail campaigns to be more sustainable. If you’d like a quick, no obligation chat about your ideas, give us a call on 01304 383838.