shades of green

Cricket - January 3, 2010

It’s a bit challenging to be in the business of making things and to also be a conservationist. There’s an inherent conflict between making and saving. I’ve got more education in environmental studies than I do as a graphic designer and I still care deeply about making a difference. Our firm has adopted and worked toward the mission of the Designers Accord since the program’s inception in summer of 2007. It’s a blurry world and one that is today filled with greenwashers and folks who help to make some of our biggest polluters look squeeky clean in the name of social marketing. It’s a tricky world to navigate and do the right thing. We’re a group of designers that love tactile things – we can fall in love with a beautiful interface design – but there’s something about ink and paper that just sucks us in and lures us to make tangible real stuff that people hold (and hopefully covet). That leaves me feeling just a little conflicted.

After a lot of navel gazing – here’s where we’ve landed on our sustainability.

We power down.  Everynight – after we’ve done our backup, the computers are turned off, and unplugged. No vampires. Just quiet time.  When we get in each morning we rely on daylight and not artificial light until we’re getting ready for a meeting.

We wear sweaters when it’s cold.  And sometimes those fingerless gloves.  And sometimes the leopard print Snuggie comes out. We know that cooler temperatures keep us on our toes and more alert. And when it’s hot we try to keep the office at a temp that’s good for our machinery – but not so cool that we need to wear a sweater in the summer.

We only print when we really need to. Most of the time we proof and transmit everything to clients with PDFs and when it’s time to look at it really closely – comp it up to make sure everything will produce correctly – we make a printout – and then we recycle that when we’re done.  We recycle everything we can.

We all walk/bike/bus to work whenever we can.  Some of us walk in everyday, some of us bike most of the year, we share rides and we do what we can to keep our footprint small.

But here’s the big thing. Our design solutions are smart and go the distance. We design stuff to last.  We don’t believe in throw away media.  This saves our clients money and ultimately serves them for awhile. Could we make more money if we pushed our clients to design and produce temporary pieces – sure , but we just don’t think it’s a good idea. Our view is that temporary pieces should be distributed electronically – use social media outlets and email to do that work and reserving the printable stuff to deliver when something needs a big tactile impact.

Our work is small and flexible.  Our solutions usually fit multiple purposes — we do more with less. We make things easy to grab and easy to keep.  We don’t make big glossy stuff when a small simple thing will do.

We only recommend working with sustainable materials – we specify FSC certified papers, 100% post consumer recycled materials, or at a minimum materials with recycled content.  We design our pieces so that we use as much of a press sheet as possible. This saves our clients money and reduces waste.

We’re always looking for ways to do things better – if you’ve got tips we’re all ears.  What do you to keep your footprint small?

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