How to Reduce the Carbon Footprint of Marketing

By David Betke

As consumers become more environmentally conscious, companies must focus on their environmental impact, and reducing carbon emissions has become a top priority for many. One area where businesses can make significant changes is in their marketing practices. From printed materials to digital campaigns, marketing impacts our environment and contributes to the climate crisis.

What is meant by carbon footprint in marketing?

Carbon footprint in marketing refers to the amount of carbon emissions that result from a company's marketing activities. It includes the emissions generated by advertising, events, product packaging, transportation, etc.

Why is it essential to reduce the carbon footprint of marketing?

The carbon emissions generated by marketing activities contribute to global warming and climate change. By reducing the carbon footprint of marketing, companies can minimize their impact on the environment, promote sustainability, and reduce the carbon cost of doing business.

What is the Carbon Footprint of Printed Materials?

Printed materials have a significant environmental impact. Every time a brochure, flyer, or promotion is printed, there is a cost to our environment. The carbon footprint of printed materials includes the energy required to produce the paper, ink, and other resources needed for printing. According to Emerald's Elastic Suite, 184 billion double-sided catalogue pages are printed annually for B2B catalogues. The EPN Paper Calculator estimates that this leads to 46 million trees being cut annually.

The manufacturing process uses enough energy to power 67 million residential refrigerators for one year! The amount of co2 emissions produced equals almost 4 million cars driven for an entire year. While the water used is equal to the use of close to that used by 39 million residential clothes washers, and the solid waste produced is equal to the trash created by 1.7 million people. That's the residential trash created by a city the size of Montreal every year!

How to Produce Printed Materials More Sustainably?

There are ways advertisers can reduce the environmental impact of printed materials. Choosing eco-friendly paper is one way to make a difference. Some papers are made from recycled materials or are FSC-certified, which means they come from responsibly-managed forests. Choosing energy-efficient printing options is also essential; printing only what you need. Another sustainable option is to go digital. Digital materials can often be just as effective as printed ones and don't have the same environmental impact. Consider using electronic versions of documents, such as PDFs, instead of printing them out. This can save paper, ink, and energy while reducing transportation costs.

What are Some Alternatives to Printed Materials?

There are plenty of alternatives to printed materials, depending on the situation. Consider using a digital slide deck or video for presentations or sales pitches. Virtual product catalogues can also be effective and reduce the need for printed materials. If you're attending a trade show, consider using digital signage or interactive displays instead of printing flyers or brochures and a paperless event app that delivers digital brochures, and segments leads for you.

Event Waste

The Eco Impact of Events

How to Reduce Carbon Emissions from Event Travel?

Attending events, such as trade shows or conferences, can significantly impact carbon emissions due to travel. One option is to choose events closer to home or to attend virtual events instead. If you must travel, consider offsetting your carbon emissions through a reputable carbon offset program.

What are Some Sustainable Event Practices?

There are plenty of sustainable event practices that can help to reduce the impact on our environment. Some options include using paperless event apps, reusable signage, choosing eco-friendly catering options, sustainable swag, and reducing waste through recycling and composting. Consider partnering with an event planning company that prioritizes sustainability and has experience creating environmentally-friendly events.

How to Measure the Carbon Cost of Events?

Measuring the carbon cost of events can help businesses understand their impact and identify areas for improvement. It's important to consider all aspects of the event, from travel to catering to the materials used for signage and promotional materials. Tools like carbon calculators can help to estimate the carbon emissions associated with an event.

The Eco Impact of Trade Show Swag

What are Some Sustainable Alternatives to Trade Show Swag?

Trade show swag, such as branded pens, tote bags, and water bottles, can be a significant source of waste and environmental impact. Instead, consider using sustainable alternatives like reusable water bottles or tote bags made from recycled materials. Alternatively, consider partnering with a company that specializes in eco-friendly promotional products. Even better, give away tree codes that correspond to trees that have been planted. The recipient can then dedicate their tree in a virtual forest that shows the positive environmental impact they made.

How to Choose Eco-Friendly Swag?

When choosing swag, consider the environmental impact of each item. Look for options made from sustainable materials, and avoid single-use items like plastic water bottles or bags. Consider partnering with companies that prioritize sustainability and ethical production practices.

What to Do with Leftover Swag After Events?

Leftover swag can be a significant source of waste and environmental impact. Consider donating the items to charity or using them for future events instead of throwing them away. Alternatively, consider choosing easily recyclable or compostable items to reduce waste.

Simple Leads App

Better Marketing Reduces Waste

How to Reduce Marketing Waste?

Reducing marketing waste can have a significant impact on our environment. One way to reduce waste is to be more intentional with target audiences. By carefully targeting marketing efforts, businesses can reduce the amount of unwanted marketing materials sent out. Consider using digital marketing tactics that don't rely on printed materials, such as email campaigns or social media ads.

How to Improve Targeting and Reduce Unwanted Marketing?

Improving targeting starts with knowing your audience. Gather data on who your customers are, their interests, and how they prefer to receive information. Use this information to create targeted marketing campaigns that reach the right people at the right time.

What are Some Sustainable Marketing Strategies?

Sustainable marketing involves better planning and prioritizing environmental impact and corporate social responsibility. Consider partnering with other businesses or organizations that share a commitment to sustainability. Use eco-friendly materials and consider reducing the amount of packaging used for marketing materials. Finally, consider offsetting carbon emissions associated with marketing efforts through a reputable carbon offset program.

Reduce the Carbon Footprint of Your Digital Campaigns

How to Measure the Carbon Footprint of Email Marketing & Digital Campaigns?

Digital campaigns also have a carbon footprint. To measure this impact, consider server energy usage, data transfer, and device energy usage. There are tools available to help estimate the carbon footprint of digital campaigns.

How Your Marketing Team Can Reduce Emissions in Their Digital Media Campaigns?

To reduce carbon emissions in digital campaigns, consider the campaign's content. Use smaller file sizes wherever possible, and reduce the number of videos or images used in the campaign. This can reduce the amount of energy required for data transfer and storage. Additionally, consider working with an eco-friendly web hosting provider.

Promotion using all sustainable materials

Sustainable Marketing Practices

What is Sustainable Marketing?

Sustainable marketing involves prioritizing environmental impact and social responsibility in marketing practices. It involves considering all aspects of a marketing campaign, from the materials used to the impact of travel and events on the environment.

Why is Sustainable Marketing Important?

Sustainable marketing is essential for both ethical and practical reasons. It demonstrates a commitment to corporate social responsibility and can help to build brand awareness among eco-conscious consumers. Additionally, reducing the environmental impact of marketing practices can reduce costs and attract customers who prioritize sustainability.

What are Some Examples of Sustainable Marketing Strategies?

Examples of sustainable marketing strategies include using eco-friendly materials, partnering with other businesses that prioritize sustainability, and offsetting carbon emissions associated with marketing efforts. Additionally, digital marketing tactics can reduce marketing campaigns' environmental impact while allowing for more precise targeting and reduced waste.

Q: How can a marketing team reduce their carbon footprint?

A: There are several ways to reduce the carbon footprint of a marketing team, including embracing digital marketing, using carbon offsets, promoting sustainability initiatives, and investing in renewable energy. Your marketing team can significantly reduce your carbon impact by making greener choices.

Q: What is net zero in terms of carbon emissions?

A: Net zero refers to the state where an equal amount of carbon removal or offsetting balances a company's carbon emissions. Achieving net zero means that a company is no longer contributing to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

Q: How can digital marketing reduce carbon emissions?

A: Digital marketing can help reduce carbon emissions by replacing traditional marketing methods that require physical materials and transportation. Programmatic advertising, for example, uses algorithms to automate ad buying, reducing the need for human intervention and paper-based processes. Digital advertising also consumes less power compared to physical advertising methods.

Q: What is carbon offsetting, and how does it work?

A: Carbon offsetting is investing in projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions to compensate for the emissions generated by a company's operations. By investing in carbon offset projects, companies can offset their carbon impact and contribute to a greener future.

Q: How can a business become carbon-neutral?

A: A business can become carbon-neutral by measuring its total emissions, reducing its emissions as much as possible, and offsetting the remaining emissions through carbon credits or other offsetting programs. The business can effectively balance its emissions to achieve a net zero carbon footprint.

Q: What is the role of a tech stack in reducing carbon emissions?

A: A tech stack refers to the software tools, applications, and platforms a company uses to perform its operations. A company can significantly reduce its energy consumption and carbon emissions by choosing energy-efficient tech tools. Companies can also use renewable energy to power their data centers and other technology infrastructure.

Q: What are the 5 steps to reduce the carbon footprint of marketing?

A: The 5 steps to reduce the carbon footprint of marketing are:

• Measure your carbon impact

•Embrace digital marketing & sustainable marketing apps

• Meet virtually as much as possible

• Promote sustainability initiatives 

• Use sustainable materials for promotional items, recognition & uniforms

Q: How can a marketing department reduce its energy consumption?

A: A marketing department can reduce energy consumption by using energy-efficient devices, optimizing workflows, turning off computers and devices when not in use, and investing in renewable energy. Companies can also encourage employees to adopt environmentally friendly practices in the workplace.

About The Author

David Betke has dedicated his career to helping brands that give back, make a bigger difference. His campaigns have helped save a 65 000-acre forest forever, reduced carbon emissions in a city measurably, and helped recruit three senior engineers during the height of a labor crisis. One even generated a 6000% return within six months and attracted a couple of great customers for life. David has been personally recognized with seven national marketing awards.