The Lighter Weight, Greener Approach to Conference Binders

Feeling the pressure to go green? So was one of our clients when they were looking for a way to convert their three-inch conference binder into more green conference materials. Not only did they end up with “greener” conference materials, but they also impressed their attendees with their new light-weight, versatile materials in multiple formats.

More Bang for their Buck

For the same price, this client was able to convert their three-inch conference binder into three different conference materials:

  1. Conference Notebook. With a conference notebook (or as some call it, a learning journal), they were able to include important information such as the schedule and sponsorship information, as well as evaluations that could be torn out. It also included extra pages for note taking during the meetings, making it less likely that attendees would throw away their notebooks after the conference ended.
  2. USB Drive. All of the content that was once in the heavy binder was now all conveniently placed on a USB drive, including speaker bios, handouts, presentations and sponsor and exhibitor information. The USB also included a note-taking option for attendees who preferred to take notes using their laptops. The USBs were secured to the front cover of the conference notebook.
  3. Hosting Conference Materials Online. By placing content online, attendees had opportunity to view the conference materials online one week prior to the conference and find updated materials after the meeting, allowing them to print their own handouts if they choose. This site was also mobile-friendly, giving attendees quick, convenient, on-site access.

Attendee and Association Reactions

Attendees were very happy with the new products! They loved how there was a place for the flash drive in the notebook so they didn’t have to worry about losing it. This also made the conference materials easier to hand out for the event staff. Additionally, attendees commented on the convenience of having to carry less than a pound of conference material versus the seven-pound binder. Overall, attendees felt like they were receiving more conference materials even though the cost of the new conference materials was the same.

Which methods are your associations using to go green?

Save Trees. Print More!

 

This is absolutely the most controversial statement that we’ve made all year, but it’s the honest truth. Sure, we print conference books, so why believe us?

You know Omnipress is about being green and providing green solutions for conference materials, so why would we say something so blasphemous?

I know this sounds contradicting, but the economics behind this is true.

Printing Saves Trees

Consider this economic cycle. Most of the paper used for printing for U.S.-based associations comes from North American forests. If we print less, we place less value on paper. Less paper being needed translates into paper companies selling their forested acreage to the highest bidder, as this is the best chance for revenue. This, in turn, means they plant fewer trees, leaving the land to just sit there “idle” or be sold to developers.

Printing Increases Demand for Paper

Using paper for printing raises the demand for paper, which means the paper companies plant more trees and keep land dedicated to managed forests.

How it works: It takes 5-6 years to grow a tree that is used for paper. Consider a forested plot of land divided into 6 segments. Year 1, they log segment 1 and replant. Year 2, they log segment 2 and replant. This goes on for 6 years and we’re back to segment 1. That is sustainable forestry.

So it’s not like trees are being clear cut and nothing is replacing them (as is the case in some parts of the world where the forests get clear cut for soybeans, sugar cane and cattle farms). Most mills have sustainable forestry practices ensuring they are replanting more trees because this is their business. Trees are their crop!

Edward L. Glaeser, a professor of economics at Harvard University states in an Boston Globe article titled, “A road map for environmentalism“:

“The trees used by paper mills are a renewable resource. When people use more paper, suppliers plant more trees. If we want bigger commercial forests, then we should use more paper not less. Our policies should directly protect important wildlife habitats, not try to reduce our demand for paper.”

Can Conference Printing Save Trees?

As for conferences and meetings, printing educational materials such as proceedings books, workbooks or handouts isn’t wiping out our trees. In fact, it’s probably saving trees.

Looking at the purpose of your meeting. If the use of printed materials is going to better educate a doctor, engineer, social worker or child care provider, so be it. Figure out a way to cover the printing cost because, in the end, you’ll have happier, more educated attendees and more demand for paper–and more land for trees.

Calculate the Impact of Using Recycled Paper

 

Many of our customers are printing on recycled paper as way to “go green.” It’s a great way to save trees, and the cost difference from virgin paper to recycled paper made from 30% post-consumer waste (PCW) is not much.

So how many trees are they saving?

The Paper Calculator

Using papercalculator.org, one can compare virgin paper to other papers (e.g., recycled paper made from 30% PCW). After you plug in your values, it calculates:

  • Trees saved
  • Waste reduced
  • Water saved
  • Energy used
  • Etc.


It’s really cool and works well for projects such as… 400 copies of a 300-page book OR 1000 copies of a 150-page book. Once you have your weight calculated, you just set up two paper types and the amount of recycled content (in pounds) and calculate.

Here’s the formula for calculating the weight for 50# white offset paper (i.e., copy paper):

  1. Take your page count divided by 2
  2. Multiply it by your total quantity
  3. Multiply that by .00984
For example:

400 copies @ 300 pages (50# paper, 8.5×11 size)

300 / 2 = 150 sheets
150 x 400 = 60,000 total sheets
60,000 x .00984 = ~590 lbs

Results:

Virgin paper uses the equivalent of about 7 trees
Recycled paper (30% PCW) would use only 2 trees

Virgin paper uses 5,627 gallons of water
Recycled paper (30% PCW) would use 774 gallons less

Virgin paper produced 269 pounds of waste materials
Recycled paper (30% PCW) would use 100 pounds less

So how many trees are you saving?

Take Our2022 Training
Trends Survey

Each year, Omnipress collects data from training professionals to benchmark educational content trends. The results will be published in our annual Training Trends Report in early April.

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