JULY/AUGUST 2012 VOLUME 128, NO. 4.
It's OK to Print
by John O'Brien, Managing Editor
In case you missed it, Toshiba on June 4, at the
2012 Sustainable Brands conference in San
Diego announced that it had dubbed October
23, 2012 as the first annual National No-Print
In a written PR statement accompanying
the June 4 launch of NNPD, Bill Melo, vice
president of marketing, services and solutions,
Toshiba America Business Solutions, Inc., said,
“We know that approximately 336,000,000
sheets of paper are wasted daily — that’s
more than 40,000 trees discarded every day in
America. We as individuals and companies are
failing to make the link between printing waste
and its negative impacts on our landfills, natural
resources and the environment. For those reasons,
Toshiba is leading the charge with NNPD
to raise awareness of the role of paper in the
workplace by not printing at all for one day.”
I’m not sure who appointed Mr. Melo judge
and jury to preside over which sheets of printed
paper are deemed “waste,” but you can bet
they’re not the ones his memos are printed on.
So why would a company that sells printers,
ink cartridges, toner, etc., devise such a
campaign? Easy; to create the perception that
Toshiba is a fall-on-the-sword type of environmental
hero, and if they make a few extra
bucks from their quasi-green image, well who’s
really paying attention.
Editor’s note to Toshiba: According to
Wikipedia, “greenwashing” is a form of spin in
which green PR or green marketing is deceptively
used to promote the perception that
an organization’s aims and policies are environmentally
friendly. Whether it is to increase
profits or gain political support, greenwashing
may be used to manipulate popular opinion to
support otherwise questionable aims.
I have to admit I didn’t see the NNPD
announcement at the time it came out, but
thanks to paper industry related blogger, D.
Edward Tree, who maintains the blog Dead
Tree Edition, his June 10 blog “10 Questions About
Toshiba’s No-Print Day” got my attention.
As you can imagine, in the weeks following
the unveiling of NNPD, the printing industry
was rapidly losing that loving feeling for
Toshiba and Michael Makin, president and
CEO of Printing Industries of America, had a
‘discussion’ with Bill Melo. Mr. Makin pointed
out that Toshiba’s ill-conceived campaign was
a condemnation of the entire printing industry
and the over 800,000 people who are
employed by it.
After the two men talked things out, Mr.
Makin released an announcement to his organization’s
members, stating, “Mr. Melo was quite
‘concerned’ with how the campaign had been
received by the commercial printing industry
and stressed it was never the intent of his company
to disenfranchise or insult our industry.
He explained that the campaign was always
directed at the office marketplace where he
opined there was needless waste.
“My retort to Mr. Melo was that if this was
truly the case, his campaign should have been
more specific. It was not promoted as “lets save
office waste day” but rather National No-Print
Day. I argued this was tantamount to having
a ‘Do Not Walk’ day or ‘Do Not Eat’ day and
that the grassroots response from our industry
was only to be expected.”
A little over two weeks after NNPD was
launched, Toshiba aborted the campaign.
There are a number of lessons we can take
away from all of this and here are a couple: 1) The masses aren’t so easily schmoozed anymore
when it comes to self-righteous green
campaigns from big companies, and; It’s OK
to print — really!
John O'Brien can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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