LET DESIGN LEAF THE PAGE
Steffi Griffin, Graphic Designer, Matthew Algie
Designers can be in a perfect position to help reduce a business’ environmental impact. That extra attention to detail can help reduce waste and encourage wider scale thinking across production and within society. Below we have summarised some of the ways designers can help.
THINK LESS INK
The saying goes ‘less is more’ and, when it comes to printing, using less ink coverage in your designs can add that extra eco-conscious decision as suggested by Sherin (2008, p101) by “reducing the number of inks required” or “reduce the amount of ink coverage in your design”. Currently minimalism is ‘in’ so making use of what designer’s call ‘white space’ can add focus to your messaging and use less ink during production. In addition, giving your POS a blank border means that an edge-to-edge print isn't needed and removes the bleed that creates excess ink wastage.
It goes without saying that going digital is not only a widely accessible option for your audience but also a great way to limit the volume of raw materials required. Distributing your brochures via email or making them downloadable PDF’s gives your customers on-the-go access, can be more affordable and reduces paper waste. Digital menu boards may still require energy usage but if you have constant price changes these can be easily updated and reduces reproduction. Turning printed loyalty cards into mobile apps can give your customers easy access as well as potential for extra content and menu price visibility.
You can also opt for digital printing for one-off prints and low volume as suggested by Sherin (2008, p.75), which can have a lower environmental impact with easier post-clean up.
MORE TO MATERIALS
With café branding being such a creative area of the market taking the leap into recycled or eco-friendly materials can enhance your sustainability messaging and add to your brands aesthetics. Considering every part of your POS and the suitability of your materials can help the environment. For example, our latest a-boards for our Peak & Wild brand are made from waste plastics that were headed for landfill. At the end of their lives they will be recycled into something else again. Using recycled paper continues to keep raw materials from being used and utilises existing materials already in the consumer cycle (Sherin,2008, p.82). Alternatively, upcycling can be a great alternative for menu boards adding a characterful aspect to the design.
Designers can take greater consideration of their material choices and aim to reduce their impact on deforestation by opting for post-consumer recycled fibre, sustainably harvested fibre (an example being FSC certified) or tree-free alternative fibre (such as bamboo) (Dougherty & Celery Design Collaborative, 2008, p.128-132).
MAKE IT STANDARD
When it comes to printed POS going for industry standard paper sizes over bespoke dimensions can be the most eco-conscious option as it means extra material waste can be limited (Sherin, 2008, p.98). Unique sizing or cut out designs means that paper sheet size may not be best utilised with waste off-cuts and leads to extra materials being required (e.g. cutting templates). This principle can also be applied to labels, with many manufactures already having the tested set up for templates.
As a result of this finding, our next Espresso Warehouse brochure will be reformatted to standard A5 size.
DON'T GET BOARD, GET CREATIVE!
For printed menu boards, designers can work closely with print manufacturers to best utilise materials. For example, by using as much of the sheet size as possible to reduce material waste (Dougherty, 2008, p.104-105). Being creative with menu boards can help reduce the need for reprinting when changes are needed. Chalkboards can easily be edited and designed to fit in with your brand, and magnetised surfaces or removable lettering means menu items and prices can be updated daily if needed.
There are many emerging suppliers who can offer alternatives to the traditional printed menu boards with an extensive and creative range of styles to choose from.
RECYCLED VS BIODEGRADABLE
When it comes to recycled versus biodegradable, the lifecycle of the item needs to be considered carefully. There are many biodegradable materials out there, but some require specific environments to break down as expected. Not everyone will place the finished item into their compost or even have the access to do so. In this instance, the biodegradable features need to be understood to know their impact at landfill. Sometimes biodegradable materials cannot be easily recycled (or even at all) so make sure you know the specifications before making a choice.
When it comes to recyclable options, choose materials that can be widely recycled rather than having to be sent to specialist recycling plants. This will encourage recycling by the end-consumer. Any extra steps in the returns process may result in the item being sent to landfill instead. The same goes for separation of materials. Often packaging can only be part recycled but the consumer needs to know this and be able to separate the different materials easily.
Sherin (2008, p. 97) highlights the importance of educating the consumer with simple messaging on the recyclability of the product. As an extra step, shout out about how to dispose of your packaging so your consumer can finish the products journey!
Sherin, A. 2008. SustainAble: A Handbook of Materials and Applications for Graphic Designers and their Clients. Beverly, Massachusetts: Rockport Publishers, Inc.
Dougherty, B. & Celery Design Collaborative. 2008. Green Graphic Design. New York : Allworth Press.
Graphic Designer at Matthew Algie
Steffi is passionate about sustainable design practices and recently worked on our new Peak & Wild brand. She has been with Matthew Algie for 3 years with 9 years experience within the design industry.
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