Our recent branding work for food waste recycling organisation and sustainability pioneers – Warrens Group, (as well as the increasingly alarming news of impending environmental meltdown) has got me thinking about the environmental impact we’re having – and our responsibility to do more about it.
As a branding and marketing communications agency, we contribute to an industry that can negatively impact the environment – on the plus side, we also have the opportunity to make sustainable and ethical choices that can help to lessen or offset that impact – its all a question of our approach.
There are a lot of ways that, as creative’s, we can be kinder to the environment – beginning with our choice of clients. We are fortunate to work in partnership with clients who realise that Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives contribute enormously to the esteem in which their brands are held, and who are either actively engaged in sustainable practices or support doing so. This is a great foundation for work that is friendlier to the environment.
Of course the same applies when considering our choice of suppliers. A little research will tell you which printers use eco friendly inks and which paper stocks are FSC Certified, unbleached, 100% recycled or sourced from sustainable forests. There’s never been more opportunity to act sustainably; paper is now regarded as one of the world’s greatest sustainable products. It’s biodegradable, recyclable and made from a renewable raw material. Choosing ethical materials and suppliers is a great way to reward and encourage ethical responsibility within our industry.
There are also some great environmental schemes, such as the Carbon Balanced Paper ran by the World Land Trust, (carbonbalancedpaper.com), which allows you to reduce your carbon impacts by offsetting emissions and conserving biodiversity by buying areas of standing forests under threat of clearance.
When selecting production materials, an environmentally aware designer can do more than just pick materials that are recyclable or carbon neutral. Taking this a step further, an obvious way to reduce impact is to simply minimise the amount of materials used in the first place. Using digital communications or cost effective print formats minimises waste, while creating multi-use communications increases their shelf life and decreases the amount of print needed.
Another great way to minimise impact is to cut down on waste. Reducing the energy and other resources we use is good practice for any business – like printing only when essential, using both sides of each page and setting up a recycling process. Turn off monitors, lights and other non-essential electronic devices overnight or when you’re not using them – sounds obvious and it is but these things can have a big overall impact.
Designers who make the commitment to be more eco friendly send an important message to clients, suppliers and fellow professionals. Who knows we might even help to avert eco armageddon!