Sustainable Design Essay
Today, good design is green design: sustainable considerations need to be inherent to the design process, not bolted on s an afterthought. Clients should not have to ask for a green solution; it should be endemic to our approach as problem solvers. The more you learn about the environmental Impacts of choices and behaviors, the more likely you’ll be to implement meaningful sustainability practices, which will make you more valuable to your clients. But even though lots of people already realize this it can be daunting. Sustainability is complex and entails a steep learning curve.
As designers, one of our many roles Is to make things. This facet of the profession Is tangible and compelling. There’s a strong tradition of making in the profession, and it can be difficult to embrace the absence of something as design. But one of the first challenges we face is to help clients decide what physical artifacts are truly needed and to produce only what’s needed, and not more. When we do need to create physical stuff such as brochures, handouts, packaging, and other artifacts, it’s our job to produce them with forethought.
Seek out, test, and recommend better physical materials and avoid the use of any substance that may cause environmental damage to air quality, water, or the earth. Start an CEO paper library: For many designers, paper choice Is the low- hanging fruit of sustainability. And paper choice does Indeed make a difference. Creating your own CEO paper library will make it easier to more quickly specify papers that exhibit good ecological characteristics, such as 100% postprocessor waste (PC), processed chlorine free (FPC), uncoated, FCC certified, or made with renewable energy (e. G. Wind power, geothermal, solar). Tree-free papers made with bamboo, hemp, or Keenan can also be found. Parsecs. Com is the best online resource to stay connected to what’s available, and Mohawk Fine Papers Inc. Offers a great tool to calculate environmental savings. Know your packaging material: Similarly, create your own resource of good packaging materials and vendors. When possible. Select materials derived from organically grown ingredients, such as organic cotton, organic flowers, and organic produce; or choose alternative renewable such as hemp, bamboo, Jute, and Seagram.
Specify Items that are constructed with the fewest nonrenewable resources (such as petroleum byproducts). Choose products that are made using sustainable sourced renewable resources. If you don’t know or aren’t sure, ask. Eliminate waste locally whenever possible. One important part of making is to assess durability. Should the artifacts you design be made to last longer or to decompose more easily? Can your materials be designed for multiple functions? Can they be repaired? Recovered? Reused? For packaging resources, take a look at collect, which offers news and information about sustainable materials in packaging 1 OFF Plans.
Also check out Sustainable Is Good, a website and blob that tracks new developments in packaging. Nothing is exempt from consideration: There are those who don’t believe sustainability is within design’s purview. Once in a workshop, I had a sarcastic retort f, “Are you going to tell us that Gourmand has a carbon footprint? ” I wish I had known then about Coffin. Devised by the Dutch communications agency SPRANG, this typeface is designed to cut down on ink consumption by riddling each letter with tiny (inkwells) circles.
I’m not convinced that this act of microscopic conservation is going to save the planet necessarily, but I find it a delightful example of someone inserting sustainable thinking into an unexpected place. It should give us pause to consider any design tool. Think color: The color choices you make (I. E. , the ink choices you make) ultimately affect the environment. When printed pieces ultimately end up at the landfill or De-inking facility, not all colors are created equal. Metallic and fluorescent inks are a challenge in reclamation?many contain high levels of metals.
The book Green Graphic Design mentioned earlier provides a handy reference on this subject. Waste not, want not: How closely do you pay attention to your print production? If your design fits properly on your press sheet, paper waste will be negligible. Better yet, design pieces with the finished size in mind to maximize standard sized press sheets. Ask your printer for an imposition. Re-nourish offers a helpful online calculator to minimize paper waste. If the printed piece you’re designing can’t be sized to optimize the press sheet, use the extra room to drop in bookmarks, business cards, or other small print objects.
Keep a standing file of small items that can be inserted onto a press sheet at the last minute (or a standing list of nonprofits who would benefit from free printing). Publish online: As publishing tasks transfer increasingly online, Web APS with high design standards and intuitive features like Issue are great for publishing magazines, media kits, and presentations. Check your arm: Bicycling is the practice of taking something disposable and transforming it into something of greater use and value. (The term was coined by Macdonald and Braggart in their book Cradle to Cradle. A great example of bicycling is The Revealing Project, an GAGA initiative. These folks reclaim billboard material and transform it into smaller works of art in the form of unique vinyl messenger bags. Sweet. What do you have lying around that could be bicycled? So we’ve established that designers are oftentimes called upon to make stuff, and we’ve accounted for the act of making and producing physical things with tangible properties. But perhaps more importantly as it relates to sustainability, we’re also the creators of the messages that go on that stuff.
These messages have intangible properties?and are more difficult to quantify?but are the key to design’s power to connect people with ideas, motivate action, and change behavior. The transformation power of design shapes values and represents tremendous opportunity related to sustainability. It’s up to us to help make good messages. Those of us who enjoy strategic relationships with our clients should take full advantage of this possibility. The elephant in the experiences that we create can compel people to want to live sustainable; work to make those visions desirable to people.
Can we help to create a vision of the future that’s happier and healthier than the one currently in the works? Design stuff your mom will be proud of: Created by a communications firm, The Green Team, After These Messages is an online tool to assess the “goodness” of communication (in addition to its aesthetic qualities). By posing questions like, “Would you be proud to show this to your mother? ” and “Does it contribute to society? ” a grid plots where your work fits: closer to heaven or hell? Closer to hack or genius?
Scrutinize carefully: The late Tabor Kalmia urged designers to decline work from companies asking us to lie for them. While most companies aren’t engaged in lying per SE, many are willing to use vague language or marketing tactics. Greenmailing is irresponsible and creates cynicism in the marketplace related to environmental claims. Tetrachloride’s Seven Sins of Greenmailing examines the veracity of marketing claims in an attempt to deflate this unfortunate phenomenon. Make sustainability an issue: Add a sustainability section to your website. Include your approach.
Post a sustainability manifesto. Make it part of the conversation with your client from your first meeting and treat sustainability as an inherent part of your design process. Nobody else brought it up? Get props for being the first to do so. Share what you know with your clients about the environmental impacts of their choices and behaviors. Whether you’re freelance, in-house, or working with a design firm or studio?what part of your job description accounts for good design? How can it be amended to reflect sustainable consciousness? Do you really need that face-to-face meeting?
How about a conference call instead? Chat? Adobe Acrobat Connect? Is it worth a 42-mile drive (or a four-hour flight) to meet with a client physically? How can you make your client and vendor interactions more sustainable? Sometimes meetings are necessary; clients should pay for carbon offsets when that’s the case (be sure to build such agreements into your contracts). Check out Alleviative to calculate how much CO you’re spewing when you travel by car or plane. The GAGA Carbonyl program helps individuals and studios account for this dynamic.
When possible, collaborate with clients and vendors online and share information electronically. Adobe Acrobat and Acrobat. Mom are great for individual project edits. For multifaceted projects, try Baseball. Rather than print presentations, share them online with Slideshows. The company you keep: Choose suppliers that have addressed the environment through their processes. Ask your suppliers questions. How do they manage their supply chain? Are they FCC certified? To what other professional organization or industry standards do they belong or subscribe?
Specifically ask suppliers about their energy use. Choose suppliers that maximize the use of clean energy sources such as wind and solar in manufacturing, transportation, and product use. The GAGA Design and Business Ethics Series (No. 7) has a nice list of questions to ask your printer. Participate in a worthwhile initiative: Design activism is on the rise and there are plenty of great social design initiatives in which to participate. Design Ignites Change by Worldwide issues challenges for the exploration and creation of solutions for pressing social problems.
You can become a mentor through your local design school ?implementation grants and scholarships help bring the best ideas to life. Along worthy social agendas. Project H, Project M, Design 21, and the Spots also incubate ND nurture design projects with socially motivated goals. Take matters into your own hands: If commercial work isn’t providing you with the level of engagement you seek, find some sympathetic conspirators. Look within your organization?who is on the green team? If there isn’t one, then start one yourself.
Don’t ask permission. It starts with a lunch group, then an email list?where it goes from there is up to you. Purchase green electricity: Use wind power to offset your studio’s electrical use. This involves purchasing offset amounts that your local utility must add to the energy grid, equivalent to the amount of electricity you use. Consult LED guidelines for other business management and facilities considerations, or look at the Green Office Punchiest (PDF) for other studio-oriented or small business-related suggestions.
Rethink how your business works: Not content with the client work he was getting, Michael Osborne created an entirely separate business entity into which he could channel his nonprofit efforts via Joeys Corner. Obtaining 501 (c)(3) status and dedicating resources and funding enables him to pursue these projects in a more meaningful fashion. Measure your footprint: There are several carbon footprint locators available, such as the one by The Nature Conservancy.
Saul Griffith believes that our energy usage (as expressed in watts) is the most important metric. His site allows you to track your energy consumption and take steps toward reining it in. Information graphics from Kirk von ROR demonstrate how design can be used to explain complex phenomena. Reduce your personal paper consumption: Rather than print documents to keep hard copy files, develop a systematic digital filing system or maintain records online. Do you really need to print it? When you do print, print on both sides, and save leftovers for notepaper.