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“Beauty and utility both must be tied to sustainability”

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I was re-reading an excellent article this morning in Fast Company. The above quote came from John Hoke, the chief design officer at Nike. This was one of many really critical design statements made by 32 experts in various fields related to urgent matters facing the world right now.

There were common themes throughout all the statements. One was climate change and its damaging consequences. Another was that design can play a role in mitigating its impact. Many businesses are solely focused on their business goals of surviving and hopefully flourishing. 

With the help of a designer that understands business needs, but also understands the importance of sustainability, businesses can find a balance that will not only help their bottom line, but also the environment. 

Some examples:

  • Reduce the amount of paper and other materials used overall by designing smaller and more efficient pieces. And put greater effort into creating pieces that will have value to your audience so they want to keep it. This can be done with better targeting and better content. 
  • Avoid additives or excess finishing like foil stamps, varnishes, and laminates. Create pieces to be as light as possible without sacrificing durability.
  • Avoid polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and plastic in general in disposable items.
  • Stick to digital printing for shorter runs.
  • Design the piece for extended use or intentional reuse.
  • Aim for 100% post-consumer waste recycled materials, when possible.
  • Be easily disassembled for recycling, especially when it comes to packaging and shipping materials.
  • Support graphic designers that take climate change seriously and make great efforts to reduce their carbon footprint.

As I’ve stated in a previous post, we take every effort to reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible. My family and I drive electric and hybrid vehicles, generate a large percentage of our electricity with solar panels, recycle everything possible, eat a vegetarian diet, and try to only purchase necessary products and minimize waste. We’ve also planted 17 trees on our property.

Alone, these items are not going to save the planet. But, collectively, they will have a tremendous impact. And if we all support businesses that make similar efforts, it will have a cumulative effect that can give us all hope that we will reach our climate initiatives.