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Kitty Thompson: Four ways to campaign sustainably this May

Kitty Thompson (Nature Programme Manager at CEN)

There is no denying the vital role that physical marketing plays in campaigning. Having literature to hand out on the doorstep or post through letterboxes, is a sure-fire way to make a candidate’s name, face, and policies more recognisable with local voters.

But, to some at least, it is becoming increasingly hard to reconcile the boxes upon boxes of campaign literature that are ordered at election time, with the desire to become more responsible in our consumption of resources.

With local elections coming up in May, I have put together four ways you can lessen the environmental impact of your election materials without compromising your campaign.


Whichever of the tips below you choose to adopt, the chances are that you will still end up using a significant amount of paper throughout your campaign. Offsetting is an easy way to counteract the environmental impact of your paper requirements by providing an equal and opposite reaction in the form of tree planting.

If you have the capacity, your campaign team could independently offset your campaign efforts after the election by collectively purchasing some trees and planting them in a suitable location within your local area.

Alternatively, to ensure that the message of the “right tree in the right place” is adhered to, your campaign could donate to the Woodland Trust post-election. It orchestrates tree planting efforts across the country and has the expertise and volunteers to ensure that the costs and logistics of planting are efficient.

Regardless of which approach you choose, offsetting the environmental impact of your campaigning is something to be proud of and is currently far from the norm. Let your voters know you have gone the extra mile by sharing your offsetting efforts on social media or even mentioning it in the literature itself.

Paper type

There are several options to consider when picking a more eco-friendly paper source. Recycled paper, by its very nature, produces lower carbon emissions and uses less energy and water relative to non-recycled paper. Paper can be recycled several times too, which means that recycled paper is reducing the amount of resources being sent to landfill.

Another option is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper that ensures that all materials used are sourced from forests that are managed according to the FSC’s social and environmental standards. As with offsetting, showcase your choice of paper by telling people about the environmental credentials of the leaflet they are currently reading, showing that you have thought about all of the details.

A third option is plantable paper, which literally has seeds embedded within it. Once a voter has read your literature, they can plant the paper in some soil and the seeds will begin to grow as the paper decomposes in the soil. At the moment, such paper tends to have a higher price point compared with recycled and FSC certified paper, but is certainly a worthy option to consider depending on your budget.


A simple trick for reducing your paper consumption on the campaign trail is to reduce the size of your individual flyers and leaflets, reducing the overall amount of paper used. This downsizing does not need to occur equally across all of your literature either - the literature you send to your core supporters could be smaller than the literature you choose to send to the swing voters whose attention you need to capture, for example.


While reducing the total amount of literature you choose to print may seem easier said than done, it is always worth noting down the boxes that are left over come election day. Sharing this information with your campaign manager and other candidates can reduce waste in the next election cycle, doing wonders for your budget and environmental impact.

Literature plays an essential role in any political campaign, but by choosing to make a few tweaks to your printing order, you can lessen your environmental impact without compromising on your offer to voters.


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