Sustainable graphic design

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Sustainable graphic design is the application of sustainability principles to graphic design. It considers the environmental impacts of graphic design products (such as packaging, printed materials, publications, etc.) throughout a life cycle that includes: raw material; transformation; manufacturing; transportation; use; and disposal.

Graphic designers engaged in sustainable practice use techniques, processes, and materials that will help reduce the detrimental environmental, social, and economic impact of their designs, also known as the Triple Bottom Line.

When subjecting a design to a sustainability audit, a designer might consider:

  • reducing the amount of materials required for production
  • using paper and materials made with recycled, post-consumer waste
  • printing with low-VOC inks
  • what production methods require the least amount of transport
  • which vendors use renewable energy
  • if the product can fulfil more than one purpose
  • if the end-product is biodegradable or recyclable
  • if the end-product can be replaced by a digital, rather than printed, format
  • just-in-time production to reduce number of units produced and warehoused
  • which vendors sell products certified by third party NGOs

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