Green America: Growing the Green Economy for People and the Planet

Community Printers
Santa Cruz, CA
Nominated by Santa Cruz Community Credit Union

We are honored to receive this nomination for the People & Planet Green Business Award. If chosen, we will utilize the money to underwrite print projects for local environmentally-focused organizations.

Since 1977 Community Printers has been a worker-managed, union shop committed to environmental sustainability. We are the largest printer on the Central Coast, offering sheet-fed, digital and wide-format printing and electronic publishing, as well as full bindery, fulfillment and packaging services.

We are an FSC-certified printer, a Santa Cruz County Green Business certified program, and a recipient of the Monterey Bay Green Business award. Recycled paper, vegetable-based inks, non-toxic chemistry, energy efficiency and aggressive recycling of production materials are all parts of our environmental approach. We utilize our website to educate the public about environmentally sound choices they can make when considering their next print project.

Community is what we are all about!

Community Printers

  • Partners with Trees for the Future to restore trees to barren lands in developing countries, especially those experiencing the worst effects of global warming. Using an equation of 17 trees per ton of paper used, we have replanted 141,015 seedling trees since 2004.
  • Donates a percentage of gross sales into a fund to provide free printing to local community groups and non-profits. In a typical year we provide $25,000 to $40,000 in free printing to organizations promoting environmental causes, social justice, youth and education, art and culture, community-building, and meeting human needs. In addition, non-profits receive a 13% discount on non-donated jobs.
  • Partners with Barrios Unidos Productions to provide work opportunities and job-readiness skills to at-risk youth through our fulfillment center.
  • Provides a dynamic working environment based on transparency and democratic management that empowers and honors effort and initiative, and provides compensation policies that sustain workers and their families.

All 29 regular employees of Community Printers sit on the board. Together we determine wages, benefits, policy, major purchases and company direction. A management team comprised of sales, finance and production managers, plus elected department leads, oversees the day-to-day running of the shop. The decision-making process can be much slower compared with conventional businesses, but we find our approach largely results in very solid, well thought-out decisions.

Recognizing that health care is a basic human right, and that medical expenses constitute the leading cause of bankruptcy, we cover 100% of the health insurance premiums for workers and their families. We are proud of the fact that every member of our collective has equal access to decent health insurance coverage regardless of their wage. We also seek to enhance quality of life outside of work by providing a generous PTO allowance, company-funded 401(k), and other benefits.

State-of-the-art digital print and bindery solutions are just two of the many offerings available from Community Printers.


Our commitment to recycling is evident in this photo depicting one week’s worth of paper recycling!