Eco-friendly Alternatives to High-end Stationery
Finding ways to cut costs and be eco-friendly, combined with an increased emphasis on expedited communication and Internet usage, has led to the growth of online stationery vendors. Paperless Post, a leader in the space that offers high-end digital stationery, has set the groundwork for online communication. Better in design and usability and more lifelike in look and feel than other online services, Paperless Post offers a modern alternative to traditional mail. An analysis of Paperless Post suggests that is an easy-to-use, low-expense and environmentally friendly system. However, it loses points for being intangible and non-traditional. For those deciding whether to use Paperless Post, it comes down to preference for modern environmentalism vs. traditional etiquette.
By Sara Weiner, Associate Director, Digital Integration & Innovation
Paperless Post is a website that provides a step-by-step system for people to create, send and track stationery via email. With an account, users can create customized, personalized digital stationery from templated options. These templates include invitations, cards, announcements and the like. Paperless Post differs from its predecessors (e.g. Evite.com) in many areas, but most notably in design options-it is essentially a digital version of luxury paper stationery. Paperless Post's functionality allows users to get extremely close to creating an electronic cousin to the snail-mail version: Recipients feel as if they have received an envelope with a letter insert via email. And although expensive in look and feel, Paperless Post's service can be utilized for a minimal fee; in general it tends to be more cost efficient than the regular mail.14
For events such as weddings, B'nai Mitzvahs, graduations and the like, Paperless Post provides an eco-friendly solution that eliminates paper waste. All communication can be completed digitally, removing not only costs, but hundreds of pieces of paper. However, for some, emailing invitations or thank-you notes is so modern that it borders on "tacky."15
For traditionalists who comply with stationery etiquette, emailing breaks the rules of decorum. This audiences cites lack of tangibility, lack of human touch (no handwritten notes) and lack of personalization as etiquette no-no's.
Luckily, Paperless Post has paved the way for traditional letter writing to find a home in email; some of Paperless Post's features may win over even the toughest etiquette critics. These functionalities include:
- Personalization of addresses and salutations via spreadsheet upload or syncing with email lists
- Customizable designs, even integration of logos, images and envelope linings
- Lifelike look and texture on the computer, including an animated envelope that opens upon receipt
In the end, as human behavior becomes more reliant on email and environmentalism becomes more mainstream, what is now considered somewhat tacky may in the future become standard. So for those deciding whether to use email or snail-mail for your next event, here are some decision-making thought starters:
- Consider your audience. Are they college kids who only use email, or grandparents who only check the mailbox? Knowing your recipients will give you a good understanding of what is expected etiquette-wise.
- Determine customization needs. How unique do you want your stationery to look? While Paperless Post offers many options, you don't hold the same creative reins as when working with a designer and calligrapher.
- Desire for "life after email"? Does your mom want to frame your wedding invitation? Printed computer paper is not likely to make it to the fridge door or family album; if recipients want a handheld version that feels as nice as it looks, consider offline options.
- Evaluate printing needs: Are recipients going to print out a lot of information (directions, address)? While email saves trees in the short term, if recipients are going to print out more paper in tracking the event than would have been used in creating a snail-mail version, you might want to consider whether you're really helping the environment.
For more information on Paperless Post please visit www.paperlesspost.com
and RTCRM's Digital Integration & Innovation blog, Treffpunkt
15 Per my mom, the ultimate etiquette analyst