Design with the environment in mind

Laurel Brunner's picture
Laurel Brunner

A few months ago we talked about the need for designers to think about the environment when planning media projects. This is especially important in the context of deinking and recycling. But it goes further than thinking about substrates, inks, energy and printing processes. Water solvents, transportation, packaging, all of them contribute to the environmental impact. Ultimately a media project’s design, including the printed components, determines a job’s environmental footprint.

However there is more. Colour managing files is the best way to minimise colour errors in production and on press. Working with calibrated screens and output devices, using ICC profiles efficiently and using software to automate processes can all contribute to greater colour data accuracy. Using different versions of the same design for digital viewing and in print creates challenges when it comes to rendering colour accurately in different environments. But that doesn’t mean it is impossible. It comes back to using colour management technologies to ensure that colours are consistent on screen and in print so error rates, and the associated waste and costs come down.

The choice of substrate is fundamental to getting desirable results but wherever possible designers should choose recycled stocks. Go chlorine free if that’s an option, or go for papers that have been bleached in some other way. Make sure to use certified stocks sourced from sustainable sources and where there is a choice, go for VOC free inks. The guiding principle should be to work with the environment and to be aware of all aspects of the project that could have an environmental impact. This extends to dealings with clients. It’s important to assess interest in environmental impact mitigation at the outset of a project, because every client will have a different view on how far their responsibility and commitment extends. Any effort made to improve the sustainability of print media is worth the effort.

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The Verdigris Project investigates the environmental impact of print media and provides information about sustainability initiatives for the international printing community. Keep up to date with the weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner.