Green Graphic Design: It’s Not Easy Being Green

What does it mean to practice green graphic design? The phrase “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” does convey an important message, but just skims the surface of the effective ways you can practice sustainable design.

There are three questions we should ask ourselves before beginning a print marketing piece.

1.    Why?   As in, why do we want to produce this as a print piece?

Before launching a print campaign, ask yourself what the purpose of the campaign is, and whether it will be an effective means of getting your message out to consumers.  Unfortunately, all too often, print campaigns that begin with the best intentions simply end up recipients’ trash, without building your business.

Ask yourself questions like:

    1. What is the purpose of this print piece?
    2. Who are my target recipients?
    3. What is the most effective way to communicate with them?

      This leads to my second question…

      2.    What?  As in, what alternative marketing methods may be just as, if not more effective than a print campaign?

      Here are some alternative ideas to using a print piece (Shameless plug: Metro Studios would be happy to help you make any of these ideas a reality).

        1. E-mail marketing. What about converting your quarterly newsletter into an e-newsletter?  Or, why not send an e-mail instead of a postcard? E-mail marketing is an easy, inexpensive way to market your business.
        2. Text-messaging. If I received a text message announcing that all jeans are 50% off until Sunday at my favorite clothing store, I would be more likely to remember to check out the sale than if I’d received the same message as a postcard.
        3. Chalkboard/whiteboard in front of your business. Need to advertise today’s specials? Instead of using fliers, why not try placing a chalkboard or whiteboard prominently outside your business, showcasing your specials.
        4. Street sandwich board. Hire a high school or college student to hit the streets for your business!  It’s a unique, eye-catching, and personal way to advertise.

          3.    How? As in, how can we print responsibly?

          Attention printers: don’t cash in your 401k quite yet. Printing is certainly not going to disappear, and those who practice green design don’t expect it to either. I think there will always be a need for physical, printed materials to touch and to hold. The challenge, however, is producing these materials in ways that aren’t harmful to our environment.

          Here are some simple ways to print greener:

            1. Purchase sustainable printing products such as vegetable-based inks, and cleaning and processing solvents without environmentally harmful compounds.
            2. Plan press runs carefully to minimize energy use.
            3. Minimizing paper waste when doing proofs by e-mailing digital files, rather than using paper proofs or CDs.
            4. Request use of eco-friendly paper, either certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, or milled using an alternative energy source such as wind or solar power.

              Metro Studios has access to all of these green resources, and strives to reduce waste when working with print vendors.  We are increasingly practicing sustainable design, and are always looking for better, greener ways to market our clients’ products and services.  Overall, our goal is to not only save natural resources – but also your own through innovative, creative marketing techniques.

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