Graphic designers can help apply the principles of efficiency and waste reduction in our industry. This can save us money and time if we’re creative about it.
After watching The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard, I’m just beginning to understand the meaning of sustainability. Recycling works and buying recycled goods helps because there is only so much space on the earth to put all the trashed plastic so we might as well put it back in our stores. That principle might be applied to all kinds of things and on this page I’ve looked for an answer to how the graphic arts fits in. While I’m still not totally convinced that all of these methods are viable for everyone, but it’s still an interesting discussion.
If there is something you’re doing to be more efficient and less wasteful with your design, share a comment.
Green Graphic Design by Brian Dougherty and Celery Design Collaborative is a book explaining how to make every step of the design and production process a little greener: paper, printing, binding, shipping, packaging.
SustainAble by Aaris Sherin aims to educate on sustainable applications and tackle sustainability in paper, printing, formats, materials, inks, and practice.
Packaging Sustainability by Wendy Jedlicka talks about making effective packaging that is minimal eco-impact.
Design for Sustainability: A Sourcebook of Integrated, Eco-logical Solutions by Janis Birkeland takes design to every level covering specifics in industrial design, materials, housing design, urban planning and transport, landscape and agriculture, and energy and resource use.
Kirsti Scott talks about Sustainable Graphic Design on the Hot Design Blog. She argues for more efficient practices, working from home to reduce travel, using only recycled or bamboo papers and even using fonts that use less ink.
The Green Resource Guide tells us the story behind Green Signage in Produce. There are great photos showing how the reclaimed items factor into the farmer’s market look of a grocery store.
In “Making Sense Of It All: How to Promote Your Brand While Staying Sustainable“, Delia Bonfilio of Fast Company talks about the challenge of balancing environmental ideals with business realities.
Paragon Muse talks about implementing some green practices in their post Joining the BandWagon: Sustainable Design. They are promoting recycled papers to their clients. They have redesigned their business cards with tree free paper and use only soy-based inks. They make some great points: the need for actionable ideas, more education and spreading the word.
“Tips: Sustainable Graphic Design” by Metropolitan Group gives us a number of ways to ease our impact by requesting biodegradable elements from others in the chain, creating multi-use products, using designs that require less white space (less paper), targeted mailing (instead of blind mass market mailing) and other ideas.
In “Sustainable Graphic Design in Malawi” by Jesse Rankin, we’re asked “how can graphic design actually help Malawi in the development process to becoming a self sustaining country?” and given some very powerful answers.
“Sustainable Design” from Drawing on Experience gives us 10 Best Practices for Sustainable Design.
Renourish is a sustainability toolkit. Great way to start getting things in motion in your production process.
Lovely as a Tree wants to tell you everything about environmentally aware graphic design with tips about paper choice, printing considerations, case studies and a database of printers and paper sources in the UK.
Design Can Change is a pretty website with a message: you as a designer can help.
AIGA Center for Sustainable Design has more case studies, interviews, and resources.
Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.