Ed #13 Balance

Design with sustainability in mind

You also can save by design. More than ever, it’s important to find the right balance between the environment and aesthetics. Using less white space or reducing margins can shrink page counts. You can log onto papercalculator.org to compare the environmental impact of different papers.

Consider all of your creative options: Creating full-bleed images requires printing on oversize stock and then trimming to the finished size, which creates waste. Do you really need to go full bleed? Heavy laminates and foils, along with wire and plastic bindings, can make recycling more difficult, although metal elements can be removed with a magnet during the process. This is not to rip all the fun out of design—no need to totally abandon these techniques, but you should consider them knowing the potential for negative impact on the environment. Is there another way to make it great? More times than not, there is. And remember the mailing container—a decision like using bubble-wrap envelopes can cancel out all the environmental considerations you put into the piece itself.

Use technology to reduce your environmental impact. Soft proofs that you review on a computer monitor require less time, less paper and less energy than conventional paper or film-based systems. If you’re working on a project with a relatively small print run, you might want to consider dry toner-based digital presses, which produce very little waste. Maybe you could skip flying or driving to your next meeting and have a teleconference instead.

One last bit of advice: If you really want to make a difference, encourage your clients to purge their mailing lists of outdated or duplicated recipients. A clean, targeted mailing list with customized messaging is much more productive in terms of return on marketing dollars—and reducing the wasted materials that flow into our mail boxes by just a small amount would have a big positive environmental impact.

And help make the paper—and energy—that went into this Ed worthwhile. Read it. Use it. Keep it for future reference. Go out there and make a difference.

More than ever, it’s important to find the right balance between the environment and your communications. 

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