For several years I have been thinking how I can integrate sustainability into my everyday life. For me, sustainable means that we live in balance with nature and that we preserve the earth as a living space for all organisms in the long term.
For this sustainability process you should first look at yourself and it is very individual. I am convinced that I can only adjust my way of life in the long term if the changes in my life give me quality of life and I do not feel restricted. I constantly question my beliefs, values and my behaviour and strive to continuously learn and improve, because there are always new developments and ways regarding the complex topic of “sustainability”.
For example, when it comes to print products, until recently I was under the assumption that it only matters what kind of paper you use, whether it is recycled or composes virgin tree fibres. However, when I looked for a sustainable printing company for the Tree-Athlete calendars, I discovered that also print materials are more sophisticated than I thought. That’s why I (Felix) talked to Kevin Riemer-Schadendorf from dieUmweltDruckerei about sustainability in everyday life and in the printing industry and I had the pleasure to ask him some questions about this topic.
When looking for an environmentally friendly printing company for the Tree-Athlete calendars, I discovered that it is not that easy to produce sustainable print products. What does it mean to print environmentally friendly?
dieUmweltDruckerei has been pursuing a holistic sustainability approach since it was founded in 2009. This means that we strive to implement all areas of economic, social and ecological sustainability as an integrated strategy.
Can you explain what distinguishes you from other “conventional” printing companies?
We only use environmentally friendly and low resource intensive materials and and always apply low-emission production practices. dieUmweltDruckerei uses only recycled paper. Our organic printing ink is based on renewable resources instead of the minerals oils contained in conventional printing inks. Our entire production network runs on electricity from renewable energies. We and our partners offset all unavoidable CO2 emissions that occur during entire printing processes and shipment by investing in climate change mitigation projects. In addition, we strive to keep the use of additives as low as possible and reduce our waste as much as we can .
With the growing world population and increasing consumption developments, in my humble opinion, it is no longer enough just to look for more efficient and environmentally friendly solutions. We have reached a point, where it is required to actively give something back to the environment and society. What does your contribution look like?
We are committed to social and cultural projects as well as biodiversity conservation. To name just a few examples.
Since 2016 we have also been promoting the “LUMIX Photo Festival” in Hanover by making our premises available as exhibition space free of charge. In this context, we are awarding a EUR 1,000 sustainability prize to young photojournalists who have made outstanding contributions to the environment and social issues. At the largest environmental film festival, we have are awarding the annual NaturVision Young Talent Award since 2017, for which we donate EUR 1,000.
As part of our charity bike tour in 2017, we raised awareness for the deforestation of the Bialowieza primeval forest and collected donations for its conservation. The last lowland primeval forest in Europe is home to around 20,000 species and plays a crucial role in European biodiversity.
In 2018, we donated as part of our climate change mitigation project over 6,000 EUR for two water filtration systems, in order to supply the local population in Togo, West Africa with clean drinking water.
In spring 2019, dieUmweltDruckerei donated 2,000 sustainably printed drawing books to Aktionsgemeinschaft Artenschutz (AGA), which teaches in a playful way children in Kenya the need for biodiversity conservation. On site we worked in a sea turtle project and donated and planted 1,200 mangrove trees to contribute to climate and coastal protection measures besides biodiversity conservation.
This year we donated to the Green Forest Fund for the domestic renaturation and reforestation of primeval forests in Germany.
How can consumers help to reduce the ecological footprint of printed products?
When people print through us, they already optimised they ecological footprint . In addition, it should only be printed what is really needed. Further, it is important to ensure an appropriate disposal. Waste paper can be recycled up to 6-7 times. For example, we use almost 950 tons of paper every year. About 670 kg of paper can be extracted from a tree like an average sized spruce. By using 100% recycled paper, we protect around 1,400 trees from deforestation every year, which is equivalent to a forest area of the size of around five football fields.
What role does sustainability play in your corporate culture?
We do not see sustainability as a goal, but as an ongoing process and we look forward to further developing this approach in all areas of the business with great commitment. This also means that all products we consume are sustainable. Our partners cater for dieUmweltDruckerei’s employees. We obtain fresh organic fruit and Bioland milk from the regionally based Elbers-Hof. Café Chavalo supplies us with fairtrade-certified organic coffee, which supports regional education projects in Nicaragua. Our lemonade comes from Lemonaid, which finances global development projects. If we do not consume tap water, we get our water from our partner Viva con Agua and this way support social drinking water projects worldwide. Our sustainable purchasing is completed by eco-fair office items from the memo AG.
You are a partner of the Tree-Athlete Initiative – how do you identify with the project?
This be explained briefly and easily: The Tree-Athlete initiative aims to raise awareness for sustainability in everyday life and also raises funds for tree plantings and reforestation. These goals coincide fully with our sustainability approach, which is why we are very happy to support Tree-Athlete with ecological calendars.
Do you have a special advice how to integrate sustainability in our everyday lives?
The topic of sustainability is complex, so that general advice only work to a limited extent. However, basically everyone should pay attention to ecological and social standards for their purchases. That means, please buy as fair and organic as possible, as well as seasonal and regional. You can find useful tips for more sustainability in everyday life on our blog