Let’s face it. Every product that humans create has an impact on the planet. In today’s world our everyday life is driven by cutting-edge technology that makes mass production of manufactured materials easier than ever before. So easy in fact that it has come to jeopardize our society’s future by tainting the environment with products so long lasting and durable that we cannot control our waste amounts which end up in landfills. As graphic designers, our role is to produce marketing and product designs that influence our culture. There comes a time when we have to adjust the envelope. We have to serve our future needs and induce preventative maintenance for our planet. Exploring the options of green design will further help expand design knowledge in a ways which will benefit designers, their clients, and the environment.
Think About It
As a graphic designer, I produce designs for printed materials. Some examples include brochures, booklets, the much dreaded direct mail, and even product packaging. But exactly how much material goes into pumping out these paper, plastic, and ink products? Of course they must be printed. Where did the ink come from, and how does it affect the environment? What is the ink printed on? How much of the material will take thousands of years to disappear or could it possibly be reused instead of wasted? Perhaps maybe the entire process is dangerous to human health because of the chemicals involved. These are all important questions when considering the switch to green design.
Google.org Philanthropy and World Betterment Campaign
Lead by Example
Before I start explaining the possible material alternatives, we should first assess the benefits of going green with a marketing or product line purely from a marketing aspect. Companies spend thousands of dollars developing advertising printouts focused at creating a positive image for the brand which represents them. When I receive direct mail, I’m often frustrated at the amount of effort put into designing the delivery so that I will look at it for a few seconds and throw it away. What if direct mail were different in such a way that when consumers open it that they feel like the sender cares about more than just the profit of its stockholders? If the consumers knew that the company took the time to use 100 percent recycled materials they would probably think differently. People want to see some initiative from the entities that they purchase from. Take Google for example, which started out only a few years ago and is now a top company in the world. Google has set aside a portion of profits for “philanthropy and world betterment.” This philanthropic notion has positively boosted Google’s public image (Google’s Reputation Precedes Itself, surpassing Yahoo, which started out heavily running television advertisements, unlike Google. I’m not sure which is the better way to announce a company, but I know which method is more beneficial to everyone.
Printed on 100% recycled material
Reuse and Reduce with Recycled Materials
Using recycled materials may be the most obvious and well known way of creating design that is sustainable for the environment. Many designers, and companies who hire these designers, are helping lead the way of environmental movement by taking advantage of the recycled materials which are both friendly to the earth we inhabit and appealing to consumers. Johnson & Johnson is taking steps to reduce its environmental impact by using sustainable packaging with product boxes and bottles plus using clean energy in its buildings. The company’s official website mentions that 93 percent of its packaging contains more than 30 percent post-consumer recycled content or fiber from certified sustainable forests. Many options provide environmentally friendly packaging without jeopardizing the security and marketability of almost any product. Consumers react positively to businesses that take measures to use green packaging and processes, but companies can also make a difference on a large scale by being an example for trend followers.
According to NRDC, if every household in the United States replaced one roll of virgin fiber toilet paper with 100% recycled ones, we could save 423,900 trees. That’s a lot of trees. NRDC has a shoppers guide to home tissue products so that you can help save forests.
Soy Printed Samples
Why Use Soy Inks? The Question is…Why Not?
Soy ink is relatively new to the printing scene, but has great benefits and availability. Below are some benefits:
- Soy inks create rich, vivid color that “pop” off the page
- Soy inks helps prevent pollution (low in VOC’s, or Volatile Organic Compounds)
- Soy inks are a safe, sustainable, and renewable resource
- Soy inks promotes paper recycling (they are more easily stripped from paper during the de-inking / recycling process than petroleum inks)
- Soy inks are comparably priced to most petroleum-based inks
- Soy inks are accessible: 25% of the nation’s offset printers use them
- Soy inks creates less waste on press (they remain more stable throughout the printing process so there are fewer ‘rejects” at the end of the print run)
Soy-based inks are very similar to petroleum-based inks, the only exception being that they contain 20-100 percent soy oil instead of petroleum. The ink can be used on virtually any lithographic press without modification or special cleaning agents. It is available in all Pantone Matching System and process colors and formulations. Roughly 25 percent of offset printers in the United States use them, and a staggering 90 percent of daily newspapers use them. Imagine how much waste has been prevented already just from newspapers switching to soy inks. They produce vivid colors, which pop off of the page. During the printing process, soy inks remain more stable, thus requiring fewer reject prints after the print run. Soy inks contain a minimal Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOC’s, and are also recycling center friendly when it comes to de-inking the materials. Soy ink contains non-toxic soybean oil, the same used in cooking oils, salad dressings, and thousands of other foods we consume daily. Soybean oil is also extracted from soybeans grown in the United States, so simply by requesting soy inks when you go to the printer you are supporting American agriculture.
As quoted by the United Soybean Board and the National Soy Ink Information Center, “Using soy ink helps the nation’s economy by providing a market for a domestic crop while diminishing dependence on foreign resources such as petroleum oil.”
We are already switching over many of our petroleum dependant products to the flank the downfalls of foreign oil reliance. Why not follow the trends of the green movement and be ahead of the game while manufacturing vividly printed products at the same time? If anyone is curious, I use JakPrints.com (How JakPrints is Making a Difference) to print most of my projects. They have affordable prices and good service.
With all of the new technology in manufacturing, and the demand for high quality design, companies may not think that eco-friendly design is appealing. However, after ample research, I have weighed the cost and benefits. Graphic designers, and the clients work for, have the ability to move toward more eco-friendly practices without jeopardizing profit margins. There are numerous solutions, and benefits, to the environmental situations we are currently encountering. Green design can be a positive influence for the way our industries go about delivering products to consumers. Graphic designers play substantial roles in everyone’s lives from providing fine art to providing design and solid advice to clients who seek them out for their services. Clients are often in the dark about ways to enhance print design or use sustainable materials, but designers have the specific the role of choosing how their work is produced from start to finish. The next time designers present a project, they should intrigue their audience with their knowledge of green design and how it can benefit the company and the world. Both designers and clients will feel satisfaction, whether it’s because they just took their positive branding campaign to the next level, or the fact they contributed to improving the environment for everyone by eliminating future waste products from the earth.Sources http://insite.artinstitutes.edu/graphic-designers-go-green-with-sustainable-packaging.aspx http://www.soygrowers.com/ http://www.google.org/googlers.html http://www.jnj.com/connect/caring/environment-protection/ National Soy Ink Information Center. Soy Ink Questions & Answers. Des Moines, IA, 2003.