The Read Green Initiative is a broad effort to raise awareness about the environmental impact of paper magazines. Participants get a 1-year *free* subscription to a variety of digital magazines. As the Read Green site tells us, the “trees will thank you”.
Obviously there is a self-serving aspect to this initiative. One of the primary organizers is Zinio, a digital magazine company. But there are many other companies including the Magazine Publishers of America which are co-sponsors, and that’s because paper magazines take a huge toll on our planet. There are 12 billion magazines published in the U.S. each year and only about 20% of those are recycled – resulting in millions of trees being cut down.
I’m excited about Read Green because it’s an excellent example of how corporations can make a huge, positive impact on our environment. Let’s face it, all environmental action starts with awareness. Recognizing that fact, this initiative is designed to make all Americans aware of the existence of digital magazines and to give them a chance to try them out – for free – for a full year. Consumers will still have a choice between paper and digital, but now they can make an informed choice with knowledge of the environmental impact of paper magazines as well as experience with the digital version. It’s exactly this type of individual-level engagement that is required to raise awareness and change behaviors so that everyday consumer choices become more earth-friendly.
Read Green has the potential to save millions of trees each year, but they’ve sweetened the deal. Anyone who purchases from the Special Offers page will be helping more trees get planted, since a portion of each purchase will be used for EcoUnit credits which will be used to plant trees. Ultimately, this initiative will both help the environment and help Zinio and the digital magazine industry become a mainstay in the mind of the eco-aware consumer.
Every company needs to look at the environmental footprint of their industry and figure out how they can make a real, positive difference. It’s okay if the initiative results in the growth of your business, as long as a primary objective is to raise awareness, change behaviors, and truly help the environment. These initiatives may meet with criticism, and the cynics may even call them “greenwashing”, but as long as your efforts have a clear and positive benefit to the environment you should hold your head high, get your message out there, and let the increasingly informed and sophisticated eco-aware consumers decide.
Kent Ragen is CEO of EcoUnit, the rewards program for eco-conscious consumers. Learn more and become a member at www.ecounit.com.