Learn from the Winners: EarthColor
By Richard Romano
Published: July 16, 2012
Going Green’s interviews with the winners of this year’s Fourth Annual Environmental Innovation Awards continue. This week, we speak
with someone who is no stranger to the Environmental Innovation Awards, three-time winner David Podmayersky, Sustainability Director for EarthColor
, who this year won in the category of Environmental Sustainability and Your Community.
Going Green: Tell us a little bit about Earth Color, your background, where you’re located, and what kind of work you do.
Well, we’re headquartered in New Jersey. We have facilities across the country, mainly east of the Mississippi, Houston, Florida, New York, New Jersey. We are a large commercial print enterprise. And recently, we’ve undertaken looking at cross-media platform as related to growth mechanism for our business, and integrating print to digital, and looking at communications, and being agnostic to the delivery and focusing more on the message.
GG: So have you found that the non-print components have their own environmental concerns?
Oh absolutely. You know, all communications have a financial and a social impact. So we look at equally weighing and balancing the environmental concerns, the social concerns, the financial impacts, the business objectives of our clients; and balancing all those and looking at what a communications in the media campaign might look like.
GG: What do you find are some of the specific challenges in being sustainable across all those media?
Well, the challenges are really finding the right balance. And that really comes to having an intimate conversation with the client and where they are [with] the particular branding, the product, and finding a balance between social concerns, environmental impacts and analyzing those impacts, and looking at the return on investment; and really balancing those out uniquely to the blend of a client and a particular brand or media campaign.
GG: This year you won in the category of Sustainability in Your Community. What are some of the local and sort of larger community outreach programs you are involved with?
We really worked hard this year in building out the social arm of our equally weighted infrastructure. And we found some great campaigns where we worked with an organization called MACED, and they’re working out of a carbon partnership out of Appalachia. We chose this particular partnership because it was an area of the country where there are financial issues and concerns, and generating revenue for some of these folks is often problematic and difficult. So in working with MACED we were able to work with some of our larger corporations and supporting their carbon offset program, and we could target individual families.
This year we supported three uniquely individual families so that they could go in and not sell out their land to the mining concerns or the logging concerns, many of them very concerned with sustainable forestry and organic farming. And we were able to help them to offset or completely eliminate their loans and then support their agricultural or forestry initiatives.
GG: Mountaintop removal is sort of a big issue down there?
Absolutely. There’s no way for these folks to really fight this battle by themselves, and that’s why we kind of got involved. Because bringing our efforts and the efforts of our clients to the table and supporting them gives us an opportunity, and them the opportunity, to look at it in a much broader perspective and bring much needed financial dollars into the local community. And it’s been a huge success.
GG: You’ve always been at the forefront of these sorts of cutting-edge and creative initiatives. What are some of the things you’re seeing on the horizon?
Well, we’re steering away from the mechanics of the conversation and focusing more on the message of the conversation. We’re separating the mechanics of delivery, be it sustainable forestry, toxicology signatures, and chemistry. So we’re looking at the mechanics as one part of it and producing responsible products, but more focusing on the message and the story. Who are we as a people? Who are we as a company? Who are our clients as corporations? And then telling this story in a very fulfilling way. So using media and education as a tool to really get the message across that we’re changing as a society.