Sustainability and Graphic Design
In this piece we’re discussing sustainability within the graphic design industry. While it might not be the first profession that springs to mind when you think of being good to the environment, there are plenty of areas where designers can do their bit for the good of the planet.
There is an increasing desire and pressure for companies worldwide to acknowledge their corporate responsibilities when it comes to the environment. Businesses can adopt sustainable practices to minimise the effects they are having on the world.
While technology is enabling us all to become paperless, there’s no denying that print still makes up a lot of the design industry’s output. Along with cutting down trees and using electricity, metal is also used in the production process. This can sometimes be overlooked.
Turning a Negative into a Positive
We think the attitude towards print could become a positive one. If we as designers, can create something that a recipient treasures and keep, rather than throw away, we can better justify printing.
Choose Sustainable Materials
Choice of Materials
It’s worth sourcing a sustainable paper manufacturer that is certified by a body such as the SFI, FSC or PEFC. Avoid using virgin materials, and use chlorine-free paper to reduce the harmful impact on the environment.
Re-use and Recycle
Whenever you use paper, ensure that as much as possible is recycled afterwards. Minimise the use of UV or foil coatings that might stop the finished product being recycled.
Use VOC-free ink
Some inks used in printing contain pollutants or volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These are harmful to the environment. Only use VOC-free inks and check that all the printers that you work with do the same.
It’s also important to minimise your use of ink by only printing where necessary. When designing printed materials, reduce bleed to minimise ink and paper wastage. This could have a good knock-on effect for the design project. Often we prefer a more minimal approach to design so the client’s message can achieve greater clarity.
Minimise Energy Consumption
Graphic designers often use powerful, high-spec’ computers that use a lot of electricity. This is on top of the energy required for lighting and heating. You can offset this consumption by choosing energy-efficient options. Turn lights and equipment off when they are not being used and switch to a green energy supply.
Our Mac’s are positioned close to natural light to avoid reliance on electrical lighting and all screens are chosen for their low energy credentials.
Provide Eco-friendly Options
Sustainability Built in to Our Process
Offering eco-friendly options to your clients is a great way to help them to understand the invisible waste that each process entails. This approach also promotes your own green attitude.
Lead by Example
Send invoices by email instead of post, provide green hosting options for using servers that use renewable energy. Offer Skype video calls instead of face-to-face meetings that require travel and work from home when appropriate.
Choose Clients Wisely
Knowledge and Communication
By choosing to work with a business, you are endorsing them and their company, so it’s important to know who you’re dealing with, and whether you’re comfortable with what they do.
Who to Work With?
While it would be great to only work with non-profit organisations and charities, the majority of businesses need to make money. You don’t have to turn down corporate offers to ensure your principles are maintained. If you make a business look good, they will probably make more money. Sustainability can be a win-win.
Our Sustainable Work
Simpkin Burley created the packaging design for Kiran’s Spice Kits, which has a strong emphasis on sustainability. We sourced sustainable products for the printing and product packaging. Our design is 100% recyclable and biodegradable, including wood pulp bags instead of plastic.
Creating a Sustainable Brand
If, like Kiran’s, you have high aspirations for the sustainable credentials of your product, it can be a great selling point to use as a point of difference. To learn more about our Kiran’s design view our case study..