We’ve highlighted a few eco-friendly designers and design studies this past month for Keep America Beautiful Month. To wrap up the month, we’ll be talking about sustainability in design.
Whether you strive to be a sustainable designer yourself, or you happen to be working with a client that has sustainability standards for their business, stay tuned so you can see how to make your design sustainable.
A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused by an individual or business. There’s a few different ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Carbon neutral means that the carbon emissions are balanced back out by carbon savings elsewhere. Carbon negative means that more CO2 is being removed from the atmosphere than is being emitted. The term carbon negative can sound negative in marketing, so sometimes the term carbon positive is used. However, keep in mind that carbon neutral is the ideal scenario.
In Brian Dougherty’s book , Green Graphic Design, he asks designers to start at the end of the process and work backwards. So don’t just focus on how the production of your design will impact your product, but every step of the way including how it will be disposed of when it's done.
Traditional inks are petroleum based inks that emit Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOC’s, into the air after drying. Plant-based, vegetable-based, and soy-based inks are good alternatives that have less VOC’s. A newer option is Algae ink, which has a negative carbon footprint and can reduce emissions up to 200%.
Design assets such as your typefaces won’t make a huge environmental impact. The major changes will come from considering eco-friendly ink types and paper types.
Swap out virgin paper stock for recycled paper. The bigger the project, the more of a difference this will make. There are a lot of recycled paper stock options available, so don’t think that virgin paper stock is the only option for a sleek design.
If you stick to digital design like we do, you might think sustainability doesn’t concern you because you’re not dealing with any printed materials. However, there is such a thing as a digital carbon footprint. A high data transfer uses more electricity, which creates a bigger carbon emission.Check out our Youtube video breaking down sustainable design, which includes a list of sustainable designers to check out!