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What is sustainable graphic design?

Wikipedia defines sustainable graphic design as the philosophy of designing physical objects, the built environment and services to comply with the principles of economic, social, and ecological sustainability.

Sustainable graphic design considers the environmental impacts of products created by the graphic design industry, such as printed materials, packaging and publications. The practices we have adopted for sustainable graphic design include: reducing the amount of materials required for production; using paper and materials made with recycled, post-consumer waste; printing with soy inks rather than traditional petroleum-based inks; and utilizing electronic delivery of proofs, contracts and invoices.

How can you do your part?

A couple years ago while browsing the web we came across www.designcanchange.org and it changed our entire perspective on the environment and the graphic design and advertising industries. We started to think about all the paper, ink, chemicals, and emissions it must take to produce not only our products, but the thousands of other freelancers, agencies and publications out there.

More and more we hear about global warming, some believe it to be true, and others think it’s garbage. One thing we cannot deny; our planet is changing. The last ten years have been plagued with the worst natural disasters in our history and the impact our busy lives has on our planet continues to become more apparent each day.

By changing the way we produce the things we use everyday we can reduce our impact on the environment. And by voicing our concern we can help spread the word about sustainable design. If you are a designer or creative agency and you are interested in finding out more about how you can implement sustainable design practices visit www.designcanchange.org now and take the pledge shown below.


The Design Can Change Pledge

Learn: Engage in the topic and seek to understand the issue

  • Familiarize yourself with your government’s stance on climate change
  • Devote some time to reading and understanding the issues surrounding sustainability
  • Engage your suppliers in your efforts by asking how they can help you become more “green”
  • Meet with your printer, tour their facilities, and learn about their environmental standards

Think: Make a sustainable mindset second nature

  • Take the environment into account in all aspects of your studio’s decision making
  • Consider the complete cycle of the products you produce
  • Explore new ways of working that reduce your studio’s negative impact
  • Ask questions: Is the project necessary and effective? Are there other ways to achieve its goals?

Act: Put my knowledge to use in my daily work

  • Market your expertise instead of products (i.e. strategy instead of brochures)
  • Use materials that are best for the environment and strive to deliver zero-impact solutions
  • Work with local suppliers, minimize transport, recycle and use recycled materials
  • Promote your studio as one that is environmentally conscious

Inform: Share information and build awareness for sustainability

  • Ask other designers to think sustainably and encourage them to take the Design Can Change pledge
  • Write or blog about your efforts to become sustainable and what you’re learning
  • Share your knowledge by presenting at a design school or local business event
  • Educate and encourage clients to embrace sustainable practices

Unite: Spark change through collective strength

  • Buy responsibly and encourage suppliers to provide environmentally sensitive options
  • Join us in lobbying elected officials to take action on the issue of climate change
  • “Green your vote” by supporting politicians who are committed to the environment
  • Connect with like-minded people in other industries and find ways to work together

Take the pledge at www.designcanchange.org today.


If you are interested in learning more about how Fireleaf Design can help you produce beautiful, high quality marketing and promotional materials using sustainable practices please send us a message.

Thank you for visiting Fireleaf!