Being a graphic designer means that you need to work with certain content that is previously imposed by someone.
Customers want to use your services in order to visually transmit a message they want to send. Graphic design involves a series of creative processes which have as the outcome visual materials that help people understand a specific idea.
These materials can be either virtual or physical. Physical materials are the ones that you can actually hold in your hands, touch and see. Physical materials are more impactful for some people compared to virtual materials, the ones they can only see through the display of a device.
So, What’s the Problem?
In order to create physical materials, certain resources are consumed. Among these resources paper and ink are worth mentioning first.
The paper industry uses wood as the prime material for creating paper, paperboard or other products based on cellulose. The more paper we consume, the more trees have to be cut down.
You may wonder why is this relevant for you as a graphic designer. The answer is simple – a change of perception.
Your capability of creating visually pleasing content is reduced to printing it down? Without printing the respective material, it cannot generate any sort of emotions? Is it not persuasive anymore? Is it not useful to your customers? Your work’s beauty depends on the quality of the paper it is printed on?
If your answers made you question your work’s quality, then you might need this change of perception to become a better graphic designer.
A Change of View
A confident graphic designer could print his work on recycled paper or could simply publish it online and gain the same amount of appreciation and profitability compared to a graphic designer who only receives positive feedback if his work is printed on premium quality paper that enhances colors.
The whole purpose of this argument is to define sustainable graphic design and present its importance in nowadays society.
Your legacy as a graphic designer is not related in any way to printed materials that some people simply throw away. That’s the purest exemplification of wasting paper.
This is where sustainable graphic design intervenes. Instead of wasting paper and negatively impacting the environment, you can make a change by adopting sustainable graphic design projects that won’t involve the use of non-recycled paper.
The Major Consequences of Paper Waste
The Natural Resources Defense Council stated that the paper industry is putting the old-growth forest in danger by deforestation and clearcutting. Instead of reducing the paper production, the demand for paper is constantly growing, mostly because its usage in the marketing sector.
The paper industry attracts other serious consequences. Starting with air pollution, water pollution and continuing with using chlorine, sulfur, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide and other polluting agents, the paper industry includes them all.
In order to mitigate this issue, a change needs to be done. One of the possible changes is reducing the need for printing materials.
As a graphic designer, you have the power to diminish the demand of paper by either moving your work in the digital world entirely or using recycled paper instead of high-quality one.
What Can You Do As a Graphic Designer?
Your main goal should be using as little resources as possible for creating impactful projects. Since you are a creative person, you’ll surely manage to find a meaningful sustainability strategy for your designs.
First of all, you should let your customers know that this is how you work. Let them know that you are planning on using recycled paper only, or that you perform solely projects that can be delivered over the internet.
Even though this might reduce your clientele, the higher purpose of your work is surely worth it. In addition, there are so many projects out there that only require digital work that you might not even feel the change, financially speaking.
Secondly, you should look for partnerships that promote eco-friendly solutions as well.
You might find a company that offers paper recycling solutions. This should be applied when you know that your projects won’t survive without being printed.
Sometimes, printed materials are an absolute requirement. Unless your project is in that situation, you should try your best to provide only digital work, that involves zero demand for paper.
Also, for projects that are printed, make sure that they are durable and require little energy to produce. Choose partners that encourage green living and eco-friendly processes.
Last, but not least – look for inspiration. You won’t know what to do and you won’t be motivated enough to do it unless you see that other graphic designers chose this path before you.
Creating a small community of people who encourage eco-friendly and sustainable graphic design has all chances to make people think differently about this topic.
If you keep reading this article, you will find several sustainable graphic design projects that might inspire you to do just the same.
Examples of Sustainable Graphic Design Projects
Here is a list of examples of sustainability projects in graphic design:
Ecocreative is an Australian company that clearly stated both on their business plan and on their official website that they care about sustainability.
The Ecocreative company operates with small ecological footprints and it stands with the sustainable graphic design movement.
For their clients, they already introduced an interactive section on their website that has to do with eco-friendly graphic design, where customers can check out the ecodates and opt for one of the respective projects.
- Orange Bike Design
Another company that encourages sustainable graphic design, Orange Bike Design gives a clear definition of the concept on their official website while encourages clients to select digital materials over printed ones or to at least choose green printing methods.
Orange Bike Design only works with local distributors to reduce the need for long-distance transportation.
ecoLingo is a company that’s entirely focused on earth-friendly graphic design. This graphic design studio is specialized in creating products that are entirely ecological and won’t impact the environment in any way.
They also put in real efforts to inform the audience about sustainable graphic design and its importance.
Ripe is making improvements in becoming greener while stating what’s the problem with today’s graphic design and mentioning what types of measurements should be taken into account.
Ripe opted for using recyclable and eco-friendly materials for their designs and they also let their clients know about their sustainability movements before proceeding to collaborate.
Adopting sustainable graphic design is not an easy choice, especially for people who are driven by money. The bigger cause is much more important than your personal cause, and a small change could lead to a great outcome in the end.
Follow the examples of graphic designers and graphic design companies that already adopted sustainability plans and leave your own beneficial imprint on the environment.
Sustainable graphic design could really make a difference in the world, as long as implemented correctly. Be a part of the change!