Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day

It’s Earth Day, so like many others we are celebrating sustainable design. Particularly in graphic design there are simple things you can do to create greener designs.

1) Recycled paper has come a long way. Paper can come in a variety of green levels: recycled (in a variety of percentages), post-consumer recycled (also in a variety of percentages), and sustainably farmed paper. Now costs on all of these tend to be more, but the price has come down to match virgin bleached paper. Encouraging clients to go even as little as 10% recycled helps save some trees and the energy to harvest those trees. For general copy paper that we use around the office, buy recycled copy paper. Office Depot in their store brand has several options for recycled copy paper. Take advantage, and it is pretty much the same price as regular. If consumers can use their buying power to voice that we prefer recycled paper to regular, I think we will find that recycled becomes the new norm.

2) Cutting Waste is easy to do too; you just have to think before you act. When you print off a sheet of paper for layout purposes or to show a client a quick mock up, make sure you use the back for sketches. Or start a recycling bin. It won’t take too much effort, some people have recycling at home that they can volunteer to take it home with them or many grocery stores and stores like Walmart and Target have bins for recycling office paper, ink, and general small electronics. If you have something larger that you would like to recycle such as a TV or computer Best Buy now has a recycling program. Graphic designers naturally use a lot of paper. It is a part of our trade, because print is not dead yet. The more you can reuse or recycle, the better.

3) Soy Inks have good and bad qualities. Soy ink does not have the mix of metals and VOCs that cause headaches and dizziness for employees at printing copies, and these chemicals often leak into soil and ground water. Soy ink degrades faster, which is great for the recycling process. Heating point is greater than conventional ink so the colors will stay truer longer. Soy ink has some drawbacks. Soy Ink is not all soy, it is still partially petroleum. Most soy is not produced in the US and forests in foreign countries are being cut down to make way for Soy farms. They make soy ink for large presses (ask your printers) and there are soy ink options for your personal printers in your office.

4) Electronic Messaging. Encourage the reduction of a company’s direct mailers, for email or other ways of electronic direct marketing. There are companies that can provide lists for a target audience with emails and even ads on Facebook and Google. A drawback is that it is easier to ignore an email than a physical piece in your hand, but emails are cheaper to produce and you can send that email to many more people. Just because it is cheaper, does not mean you want to spam email. People will then see you as more of a nuisance than a company they want to do business with. If the client would still prefer print encourage them to view your projects digitally.

Check out more green ideas on my blog on Monday! Until then…think before you act. What can you do today to make your designs greener? Green Note: reduce water waste by shutting off the water while soaping up your hands.

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