The Day After Earth Day

HOW sought keen advice from Jess Sand, a partner, designer and writer, for tips and tools to help every designer work with sustainability in mind. She begs the question: “What can you do tomorrow?” The day after Earth Day is an opportunity to work differently.

I found this passage of the article particularly eye-opening: “Environmental expert John Thackara estimates, after all, that a full 80% of a product’s environmental footprint is determined at the design stage. That gives us a whole lot of control that most of us don’t even think about.” Sand outlines three steps that’ll get you started.

Step One: Ask Better Questions

Designers are problem-solvers and ask questions by nature. So when you tackle your next project, ask a few more:

  • What resources will be needed to make the project happen?
  • What will the project leave behind?
  • How will the project be used in the real world?
  • What can I do differently than I normally would to reduce the project’s impact?

Identifying these things at the outset will allow you to make better design decisions as you go, reducing the project’s overall footprint.

Click here to read “Step Two: Use Fewer (and Better) Materials” and  “Step Three: Collaborate and Educate.”

Writer and designer Jess Sand is partner & content lead for Re-nourish, a not-for-profit project dedicated to helping the graphic design industry grow into a more sustainable field, and communications manager for the San Francisco-based nonprofit Net Impact