7 Tips to Sustainable Design

“Going green” is a concept that’s familiar to most people, especially designers. In a survey by The Creative Group, 60 percent of creative professionals said they expect their firms to become more focused on the environmental impact of their programs and products in the next year. Here are some tips to help your firm go green—and make yourself more valuable to your firm in the process:

1. Become a Green Guru

Learn about sustainability practices and consider what actions might be easily adopted for the projects you oversee. Keep in mind that the changes your firm makes don’t have to be radical. For example, you might consider using an eco-friendly font, which requires less ink than traditional fonts, in pieces where it makes sense to do so.

2. Get a Seat at The Table
If your firm is developing environmental policies, make sure you or someone on your team is in on the discussions. Whether it’s finding ways to reduce the amount of materials required to produce a marketing brochure or contemplating the “afterlife” of a product package, designers should be an essential part of any corporatewide green initiative.

3. Pose Questions
A process or procedure that hasn’t changed in years may not be the most effective—or efficient—option. Think about how an existing approach could be revamped in a green way. Perhaps your firm uses similar packaging design every time a new product is launched. By flexing a little creative muscle, you may find that you can redesign the packaging to save on materials or energy. It’s good for the environment and could save the firm money.

4. Check in With Suppliers
Chances are you’ve used the same vendors—from prepress houses to paper manufacturers—for years. However, as being environmentally conscious becomes more important to your firm, it’s worth considering whom you want to do business with going forward. Talk to your suppliers about their green initiatives and consider looking for ones that use carbon-neutral workflows, products and processes.

5. Know When Green Doesn’t Make Sense

Depending on the audience for or importance of a certain piece, maintaining the status quo may be more important than trying to earn environmental credibility. For example, investors may respond more favorably to the heavyweight paper used in your company’s annual report than to a lightweight recycled alternative. If you do decide to make changes to the pieces your team produces in order to be more eco-conscious, consider all possible outcomes before making the switch. Transitioning a print publication to an online format may not reduce paper usage as intended, for instance. End-users who prefer the traditional format may use home printers to make hard copies, which could actually make the publication less green than it was before.

6. Keep Current
Make sure you’re familiar with the latest green products and services, and educate yourself on how others are using them. Websites and industry associations can be good sources of information. Re-nourish.com, for instance, is “dedicated to helping the graphic design community become more sustainable.” The American Institute of Graphic Arts hosts conferences on green design and has a sustainability section on its website (http://sustainability.aiga.org/).

7. Finally, keep in mind that you don’t have to go green overnight.
Indeed, it’s probably impractical to do so. Small changes can add up and offer a launching point to build on.

The Creative Group is a specialized staffing service placing creative professionals and HOW’s official career partner. www.creativegroup.com