Thursday, August 20, 2009

The state of green printing - talks with green printers: Marilyn Jones of Consolidated Printing

Today we bring you another chapter in what we aim to make a monthly series - State of the green printing - talks with green printers. This series is part of our efforts to promote green printing and to get a better understanding where it stands and how it develops.

Last month we had the pleasure to talk with
Livio Ciciotti of Monroe Litho (full list of interviews can be found on our green printing page), and today we are happy to have a special guest from Chicago, who is engaged in green printing for over three decades - Marilyn Jones of Consolidated Printing (Chicago, IL).

Consolidated Printing Company was established by Marilyn Jones in the basement of her Chicago home in 1973 with just $5,000. After more then 35 years Consolidated Printing is one of the leaders in the green printing market and an awarded printer. Marilyn is talking on the interview on the journey she made since the beginning at her home basement in 1973, the current trends and developments in green printing and the future of Consolidate Printing.

Hi Marilyn. Can you tell us what makes Consolidated Printing a green printer?

Consolidated has taken a holistic approach to sustainability, and has addressed everything involved in the process of printing and the facility that houses the plant and offices. Specifically, in the printing process we have zero petroleum, zero carcinogens, zero phthalates. Along with our printing processes being natural our office and plant has been built out with sustainable products and procedures. All of the processes at Consolidated Printing are non-toxic.

What motivated you in the first place to adopt green practices and offer green options to your customers?

Printing is a marvelous business and gives us the opportunity to work with people in many different businesses. One of my first clients was a vitamin manufacturer. He sold mega doses of vitamins to health care practitioners. In 1973 in the Midwest we were not as a society familiar with the benefits of vitamins as a source of healing. Learning from him about the many everyday items that affect your health positively and negatively made me look at the chemicals I was using in my business life.

As I adopted alternative medicine and a natural lifestyle personally the extension went to my business where I adopted the use of many household products to replace toxic chemicals.

Although there were clients I discussed natural healing and natural printing with, I did not do this on a large scale until I participated in our states Great Printers Project. We were inspected and awarded as Illinois First Great Printer in 1997. I found that clients I worked with wanted this award listed on the printing I was doing for them. Printed by Illinois First Great Printer”

What do you consider the most important green element in your green identity?

The most important green element in our green identity is transparency. If I am struggling with some aspect of my mission, I talk about it. We recently replaced a press with the newest model. This new generation press did not take to our natural wash up solution; it could not be weaned from its toxic habit. I would point it out on tours for clients and talk about our processes to find a solution. We did after many months adapt it to our all natural production method. Until we reach transparency we will not become a “green” industry.

As someone who is involved in green printing for many years, what’s the most important changes you see now in the industry?

The industry has changed and embraced the green movement. We have embraced recycled paper and soy ink and a multitude of bogus certifications but, I see only a handful of us across the nation pushing to delve deeper and clean up the industry. Unfortunately, through lack of awareness or lack of dedication I do not see the industry moving to be rid of the toxic and health damaging chemicals.

Every day I read the ads from printers who talk about citrus wash as a green alternative; do they know it has the potential to cause cancer? How is that green? Or a printer who is talking about a waterless press as an answer but not talking about the toxic wash up needed to remove the ink from the press or the plates that are not recyclable. Half truths and misleading. Chemicals can cause liver and kidney problems, cancer, coma, sudden death just to name a few.

What are the most popular green offers now at Consolidated Printing? Is there any particular reason for that?

The most popular green offer at Consolidated is our all natural printing process with the use of no toxic chemicals in our printing process. Our clients tell us our ink is vibrant, the colors deep and rich. We have recently won awards for print excellence from the Printing Industry of Illinois and Indiana, American Printer Magazine and a Gold Ink Award.

What is the most important part for your customers when it comes to buying green printing services?

The most important part for our clients when it comes to buying green printing services is the length of our participation in the greening of printing and the inspections and awards our company has participated in and received.

William D. Schaeffer Environmental Award
The Governor's Pollution Prevention Awards
Mayor Daley's Green Practices Market Transformation Award
Mayor Daley's Green Products Market Transformation Award
First Illinois Great Printer

Do you think we are already in the place where green printing is not only supporting the environment but also generating value for businesses?

No, I do not think we are in the place where green printing is supporting the environment or generating value for business. I don’t feel buying wind power is the answer to the energy debate. Supporting renewable energy is great but how can we do it more directly? Is that money really ADDING to the amount of renewable energy used or just subsidizing it? We need to be cutting down our energy use and demanding energy-saving features from our suppliers. As for the pollution printing generates, the technology is there to support the environment but it is not being used by the industry as a whole so printing remains a leading polluter worldwide.

Who is the typical customer that buys green printing services from you?

There is no typical customer who is buying green. All clients are looking for the three original qualifications -price, quality, on time delivery - with the added benefit of being green. Not necessarily in that order. For each client the priority changes but those four requirements remain pretty steady.

How does the recession influence green printing? Is cost becoming more of an issue?

The recession has influenced printing as in every other industry. Cost is an issue. Our system in areas is much more expensive. Our biggest expense is in the past. It was in the research and development, the hours, weeks and months, years put into testing new products and the cost of wasted paper and in overtime hours, products that did not live up to their claims, or new generations of products that were improved and again needed testing.

As a company our employees spend a considerable amount of time working on greening the printing industry and working in the green community. The working hours we all spend on this community involvement to further the green initiative is another area that increases our costs. Time is money.

What is your vision of Consolidated Printing 5 years from now?

My vision for Consolidated 5 years from now……hmmm I didn’t have this vision 5 years ago. I would like to see our PrintedgreenTM become the standard for the industry. Meanwhile, we will just keep doing what is right for our workers and the planet. We will continue to partner with our industry to make it a safer place to work and live and make the air we breathe and the water we drink safer.

Thank you Marilyn! You can learn more about Consolidated Printing at their website -

You are also invited to watch this video, which shows an interview conducted with Marilyn last year:

More links:

The State of Green Printing - Part 1 - an interview with Greg Barber of Greg Barber Company (January 15, 2009)

The State of Green Printing - Part 2 - an interview with Deb Bruner of Pinnacle Press (March 18, 2009)

The State of Green Printing - Part 3 - an interview with Livio Ciciotti of Monroe Litho (July 20, 2009)

Green printing tools and resources -

Raz @ Eco-Libris
www.ecolibris. net