Start Somewhere, Green is a Must

by Justin Ahrens

“Great things are not done by impulse, but a series of small things brought together.” —Vincent Van Gogh

I love this quote – it’s really reflective of how my green journey has been. Maybe “green” and “sustainable” are terms you’re a little tired of hearing about. Especially if you are still fighting the need to work this way, or you don’t think it affects you, or you’re struggling with how to implement sustainability in your work life. I know that, for a while, I felt this way. But, after realizing that this subject really isn’t a trend, but more of a responsible way to live and run a business, I began to make small changes. And, over time, they have added up to something helpful, marketable, and powerful. So let’s focus first on some of the simple reasons why we need to be green.

First, it’s just good business. Creating a work ecosystem that encourages your team to recycle, be aware, and work as responsibly as possible is just flat-out smart. This “trend” is more a reality than anything else. With FSC-certified printers, papers, and the variety of options on recycling, energy conservation and more, this state of being is good for everyone. If you make it part of your culture and easy to do, it’s something you and your team can be proud of and share with others.

From a strategic standpoint, “living” this way at work can help you relate to your client’s world. You can understand the simplicity and complexity of being green. But even more powerfully, when you are having a conversation with a client about what makes you different you can talk about being responsible and help them do the same. Not only is that a powerful culture statement, it’s also a smart conversation piece. In general, I think it’s awesome to add value to your clients whenever you can.

So HOW do you do it, you may ask? There are some great tips and tools below, but the first step is to recognize its importance. While we may not spend our free time actually hugging trees, we need to take our design capabilities and their effects and implications seriously. We need to realize that our everyday activities, both at work and at play, affect our communities, our environment, and our planet—not just today, but for generations to come. The second is to realize that going green doesn’t cost you anything. If anything, it “pays” in the sense that you can feel better about your daily efforts and you can provide a valuable service to your clients by helping them think, work, print, and produce things responsibly.

The best place to start is to just choose something. Recycle, get better paper for your office, track your recyclables, set goals, have lunch & learns, go to seminars, follow influential people on Twitter. The point is to start anywhere that works best for you and let it grow from there. Start small and see how it can grow to something special in a short period of time.


The best place to start is to just choose something. Recycle, get better paper for your office, track your recyclables, set goals, have lunch & learns, go to seminars, follow influential people on Twitter. The point is to start anywhere that works best for you and let it grow from there.

Image courtesy of Rule29


Quick Tips
1. Make Recycling Easy: This may seem like a “duh” statement, but until I went and got bigger recycling bins and put them in convenient spots, we simply didn’t recycle enough. Now we do. I know, it’s magic.

2. Educate Yourself: Appoint someone in your studio or mark a day on the calendar that you spend some time to scour sites, search Twitter, or do some reading on the variety of trends and latest green things going on. Follow organizations that provide a wealth of information: like http://twitter.com/#!/renourish .

3. Avoid Complex/Obscure Processes: Choose a few simple ways to help stay green around the office. Post an easy-to-find list of green office items to order. Create an available document of your favorite green press sheets. Be specific, and everyone will participate.

4. Make Statements: Align your company with organizations that are helping educate and push being responsible. Consider joining the Designers Accord, and be a part of a bigger community aimed to making a difference.


Dig Deeper!
1. Measure Up: Steps to a greener studio
http://www.re-nourish.com/?l=tools_greenstudio
and http://www.livingprinciples.org/tips-for-greening-your-office/

2. Choose Wisely: Find the greenest paper for your project
http://www.livingprinciples.org/paper-search/

3. Valuable Space: Make the most of that press sheet
http://www.re-nourish.com/?l=tools_projectcalculator

4. Hot off the Press: Locate a green printer in your area
http://www.re-nourish.com/?l=tools_greenprinters

5. Calculate: Discover the impact of your latest print project
http://neenahpaper.com/Resources/Calculators/EcoCalculator

6. Vocab Test: Terms and green certifications/logos explained
http://www.re-nourish.com/?l=resources_glossary