Concrete really is very beautiful. And you can make amazing structures from it too – the screenshot below from a simple Google Images search is testament to this. Beautiful shapes, structural strength, and a neutral colour which allows focus on form. However, it has serious environmental issues as it produces one tonne of CO2 for every tonne of manufactured cement – the binding ingredient in concrete – explained in detail by The Green Age. Unwanted concrete used to go straight to landfill but is now crushed for gravel or aggregates as the world tries to deal with our unsustainable levels of consumption and waste. Recycling concrete still requires transport and processing, which in turn use finite resources… and why the reuse of the old concrete piers from under our house make me so happy.
We have just raised our house. I call it the Tower in the Sky. The concrete piers that were left in the ground varied in size and appearance. Some have smooth edges and some rough. We hired a digger for the day and moved them round the block, forming garden beds and an edging to the new paving area. Around the paving area they have a second use: at 300mm high, these smooth concrete blocks make perfect resting spots. Have a seat.
Diane MacEachern has recently written a how-to post for North Americans to decrease the amount of junk mail turning up in their letterbox. I also suffer from that problem, except I live on 5 acres and rolled up collections of inked ads are thrown into the long grass at the front of our property every week. I never take the rubber band off, I never look at the messages, I collect them after I’ve mowed and dispose of them.
When we consider the lifecycle of a product, we have to look at the entire life: for a direct mail piece let’s consider growth and harvest of trees; transport of trees to make paper; transport to printer; use of inks, water and energy for printing, distribution to homes, distribution to tip. That’s a simplistic view of course, but now overlay the real purpose of the project – a sale. CMO Council lists a whole page of varying facts about direct mail, including this one, “Direct mail — yes junk mail via snail mail — still reigns supreme, offering response rates of 1.1 to 1.4% versus 0.03% for email, 0.04% for Internet display ads…”
Diane offers some good ideas for the consumer to restrict the mail arriving, but given that “44% of direct mail is never opened” (CMO Council again), and has such low take-up rates of “1.1 t0 1.4%”, I really believe that direct mail has to be carefully considered as a means of promotion in a world where resources are precious and finite. As a graphic designer, I can be part of the solution.