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Sustainability Conference Draws National Audience at Cal Poly

Green media is an increasingly complex balancing act between materials and processes...and disciplined management of mailing lists, technology and sourcing.

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Solutions Update by Carolyn Allen

Having spent the better part of my career in graphic design and communciations management, I was delighted to read the following report on a recent conference in central California.

Sustainable media is more complex that one would imagine -- it's not just about recycled paper or soy ink. The methods used in print shops affect emissions and pollutants. The source of recycled content can eat up thousands of miles as pulp is shipped to and from Asia for depulping. Desktop printing can be as resource-heavy as commercial printing. And the issues go on.

The Business of Green Media Sustainability Conference Solutions

The 2nd Annual "Business of Green Media" sustainability conference attracted a national audience representing 17 states and 55 organizations including companies, associations, universities, and government agencies. It attracted 22 sponsors including printers, vendors, software developers, along with media, and trade associations.

Produced by SustainCommWorld and hosted by the Graphic Communication Institute at Cal Poly, the conference focused on life-cycle analysis and how to go lean and green.

Attendee comments included:

"It was good to get an update on where the industry is heading regarding sustainability and to learn more about what other companies are doing."

"A chance to think about the intersection between green issues that impact both digital and print media."

"The industry must be aware of the changes around us and it's not just in technology. Being 'Green' means more than you think and hearing what industry experts are saying will help you survive and thrive in the future."

"If you are serious about staying in business in the coming years you cannot avoid the issue of sustainability. You can wait for regulations to come down and scramble to comply or you can prepare and be a leader in the graphic arts industry."

Keynote speaker Christina Page, Director, Climate and Energy Strategy, Yahoo! provided insight into a high-level corporate commitment to resource sustainability. She discussed steps Yahoo! had undertaken to reduce its energy footprint and the creative approaches to improve their carbon profile going on across the enterprise.

Harvey Levenson, head of Cal Poly's Graphic Communication Department observed, "Never before had the graphic arts industry rallied behind a combined business and social cause as with sustainability. I've been monitoring the industry press over the past year and I am hard pressed to recall one publication--print or online--that has not addressed the sustainability issue on some level.

"No printing process is exempt from the governmental requirements and social responsibility of developing sustainable practices. It is also imperative to show current and prospective customers that measures are being taken to protect the environment. All processes from toner-based and inkjet to gravure are expected to comply. Printing, publishing, and packaging companies have an equal stake in supporting sustainability because they are being scrutinized by print buyers and the public about what they are doing to support sustainability.

"It is a bottom line issue and print buyers increasingly want to work only with printers who are addressing sustainability and they want their printers to work only with equipment manufacturers and vendors that are supporting the issue. Hence, it is a revenue stream and profitability matter for the graphic arts industry."

Lisa Wellman, president of SustainCommWorld concluded that "This is the pressing issue of our time. Every C-level executive should be assessing the risks of inaction and exploring the upside of managing to a triple bottom line. The conference speakers presented real opportunities that, at this time in the market especially, no company should be ignoring."

Cal Poly's Graphic Communication Department and Institute

( is one of the largest and best-known programs of its kind in the nation. The department includes concentrations in printing and imaging management, electronic publishing and imaging, design reproduction technology, graphics for packaging, and individualized study. The program is strongly supported by industry with equipment, supplies and software for the department's more than 33,000 square feet of modern laboratories. The Graphic Communication Institute at Cal Poly focuses on services for industry, including research, testing, product evaluations, consulting, seminars, workshops and conferences.

Graphic Communication Institute at Cal Poly
805-756-6151 or 805-756-2645 or 805-756-6151


SustainCommWorld is focused on educating communication professionals from corporations, institutions and government agencies how to develop sustainable green workflows and supply chains to lower their carbon footprint. SustainCommWorld currently produces two major events: The Business of Green Media in cooperation with the Cal Poly Graphic Communication Department and the Graphic Communication Institute at Cal Poly, and The Green Media Show, a conference and expo in Boston. SustainCommWorld staff consults with institutions and enterprises around the world on issues related to sustainable communication - the production of sustainable media and the associated business challenges and opportunities that face the graphic arts community and those involved in media production. Senior executives are frequent speakers at conferences around the world.

To further spread their green message, SustainCommWorld produces a bi-monthly newsletter "Green Media Newsletter," "Communicate Green Radio" a weekly radio show debuting spring 2009 and social networking site featuring blogs focused on sustainable media.


Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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