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Happy Earth Day ’03

Did you know it was Earth Day? Designers have a responsibility to consider the end-life of packaging they devise. Few other things we design will be produced in such quantity. I won’t list a bunch of shocking facts about the ecological harm of poor use of resources, most of you are quite aware. Not to mention that people pay little attention to “shocking statistics.”

There are many things you can do to make small contributions toward more sustainable design.

Use soy inks - most printers will use soy-based inks if you request them, at little or no additional cost. Many printers are finding that soy ink is actually cheaper, as they save on insurance costs in their shops by not having to deal with the hazardous solvents and other chemicals. Choose inks that do not have pigment made from heavy metals (the selection used to be limited, but now most colors are available). The Great Printers Project is an industry group that is voluntarily working towards an eco-friendly industry (this is mostly a mid-west thing apparently). Another obvious way to contribute is to use less ink cover.

Using paper with a high percentage of postconsumer material is excellent. There are also “tree-free” more-renewable paper alternatives like cotton-based and Kenaf. Avoid all paper that is processed and brightened with chlorine. Again, the price for these papers is not much higher. And when you spec alternative papers you create market demand and the prices will fall. It isn’t always possible to use the most friendly paper, but when a design doesn’t call for the whitest white or glossy-as-hell, then that is a fine opportunity.

Also pay attention to other details such as coatings, laminates and especially how designs will fit on press sheets. Sometimes you can more efficiently use the sheets by resizing just a small margin.

A good starting resource for eco-design is the Independent Designers Network. Please post your thoughts and ideas, and any resources you know of.

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PUBLISHED ON Apr.22.2003 BY brook
Darrel’s comment is:

Or, better yet, skip the paper and stick it on the web. ;o)

And happy earth day!

On Apr.22.2003 at 12:51 PM
Natasha’s comment is:

If we had international legal structures to try and control packaging materials, such as those implemented in Germany, I think it would be very exciting for designers. It would probably spur a whole lot of original eco-friendly inventive designs. It does have to start with us though. Certainly putting out a demand for more eco-friendly paper and ink materials will encourage companies to cater to an environmentally aware market.

One of my favourite new money saving products which happens to be less damaging to the environment, is the refillable ink cartrage for ink jet printers. It's still toxic ink, but you don't have to throw away all that excessive packaging and the huge hunk of a plastic ink cartrage every time you run out of ink.

Kevin and I have been working with The Otesha Project since September 2002, and now they're on the road biking from British Colombia to Nova Scotia on a quest to make students across Canada aware of sustainable consumption. All the printing we did was on post consumer paper. Even the tshirts were donated by Salvation Army, and turned inside out to be printed on.

Happy Earth Day!

On Apr.22.2003 at 01:00 PM
Sam’s comment is:

And always recycle your computer (web designers too)! says The Basel Action Network (check out the Hall of Shame: Shame on you, Australia!)

On Apr.22.2003 at 01:03 PM
Giles Hoover’s comment is:

Well, skipping paper is fine -- but let's keep books around for a while yet, okay?



On Apr.22.2003 at 01:03 PM
pk’s comment is:

better still: quit design and start farming.

On Apr.22.2003 at 01:17 PM
griff’s comment is:

Not to rain on the earth day parade, but did anyone see Friday's Penn and Teller show Bullshit! on Showtime?

I understand Penn and Teller are in the entertainment industry and it is easy to spin something many ways, but the show made me rethink a few things.

Most interesting was an interview with Patrick Moore, founder and former president of greenpeace. He is strongly in favor of using more wood to protect the environment, to result in the growing of more trees.

Show highlits

Moore's Greenspirit site

On Apr.22.2003 at 02:38 PM
armin’s comment is:

>Earth day

So that explains this

On Apr.22.2003 at 02:39 PM
rebecca’s comment is:

1) One of my colleagues introduced me to the work of Swedish paper makers Munken Natural Papers. They are a bit expensive but have such an inspiring mission statement that I hope those of you whose clients can afford the materials will consider them.

2) I recently became interested in the work of the architect William A. McDonough, who designs buildings that clean the air and water around them and create more energy than they use. His book, Cradle to Cradle, is printed on "a synthetic 'paper,' made from plastic resins and inorganic fillers, designed to look and feel like top quality paper while also being waterproof and rugged. And the book can be easily recycled in localities with systems to collect polypropylene, like that in yogurt containers." Amazing.

On Apr.22.2003 at 03:10 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

> quit design and start farming.

But use only sustainable methods!

If you're serious about picking better papers, and can afford it, look into hemp fiber paper and other plant fibers other than wood.

Wood is perhaps the worst organic fiber to use for paper for so many reasons. However, the lumber industry has some good lobbyists. ;o)

On Apr.22.2003 at 03:46 PM
Su’s comment is:

I'm curious about this un-paper in McDonough's book. Anyone know what is it? I poked over to the book site, but it gave a similarly vague description. I haven't looked around yet, but figured someone might have found it already.

On Apr.23.2003 at 10:43 AM
rebecca’s comment is:

Su: McDonough apparently used the "Durabook" technology developed by Melcher Media; you can read about it here. FWIW, I found the book to open badly and weigh so much that it would not be practical for very long works, but I still love the idea.

On Apr.23.2003 at 12:53 PM
Su’s comment is:

Whee, thanks. I'd kinda figured about the weight, which sucks, but wouldn't be too much issue in some cases. I especially like the cookbook idea, for obvious reasons.

On Apr.23.2003 at 01:39 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

The waterproof idea has its merits. My wife is exactly the demographic target they're going after. Likes reading in the tub.

That said, if longevity is the only requirement, a good cotton or hemp paper would work just fine and, of course, still be recyclable.

On Apr.25.2003 at 09:24 AM
rebecca’s comment is:

For McDonough, longevity isn't the only requirement. He wants to use materials that can be recycled without degrading the quality, which cannot be said for current paper recycling methods.

On Apr.25.2003 at 04:05 PM