Andrew Twigg Design Studio, Ltd

Sustainability in print design

>The concept of sustainability is thrown around a lot. Especially in the design professions, we read and hear a lot about how to make our designs sustainable.

There are some really obvious decisions one can make when planning print collateral including whether or not the paper we print on is recycled or is sourced through environmentally friendly means, or inks and finishes are low impact (water or soy based). We can look at the print vendor we’re using: are they located thousands of miles from our door and is the shipping from the plant to our threshold offsetting any benefit we might have gained through using other sustainable resources?

I’ve encountered a number of projects recently where the long-term viability of print media is challenged by many factors; changing information is a constant factor in these situations. Companies merge or a rebranding makes collateral obsolete. Hours of operation change, or a major product category is introduced or eliminated.

One of the big things I try to get my clients to consider is sustainability beyond their paper and ink choices. What can we do as a team to help create pieces that will result in little waste, have flexible use, and long-term viability? What are ways that we can make sure that we’re not sending 100 or 1,000 or 100,000 pieces to the recycling bin?

Case in point: One client of mine recently launched a new brand. We had their business cards printed on make-ready stock which actually intervened before scrap was sent to the recycling bin: their job was ganged up on press with another unrelated job. This was an extra step and wasn’t the cheapest option but reduced waste on another company’s project. This was something small that could be applied on a master scale, without a lot of effort, that over thousands or hundreds of thousands of companies could make a really big impact. Virgin stock wasn’t sacrificed in the name of vanity.

It makes me wonder: what other ideas are there for reducing the environmental impact of print pieces and what can be done to improve the sustainability of the pieces that are produced? Ideas, anyone?

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