101 Things Designers Can Do to Save The Earth

120. Get inspired over coffee
May 4, 2010, 3:47 pm
Filed under: Project Concepts

We’ve been meaning to give Starbucks some props for some time over the excellent redesign of their University Village store. It’s as much an exhibit of sustainable building practices as it is a coffee shop, with informative displays throughout that explain why and how certain materials were used. One of the best parts of the project was the construction barrier fabricated from plywood etched with a high-pressure water jet.

119. Don’t change the package. Change the system.
May 4, 2010, 3:37 pm
Filed under: Paper, Printing, Project Concepts

If you’re at all involved in package design, pick up a copy of Wendy Jedlicka’s book, Packaging Sustainability. She says the secret to making more responsible packaging, surprisingly, ISN’T by changing to more earth-friendly materials. Instead, she suggests you rethink whether you even need a package at all. At the bare minimum, she says see if you can get by with the bare minimum — a package that uses far less materials. Click on the image to read more at Amazon.com.

118. Read the Atlas
June 16, 2009, 5:40 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

When you hear the word “atlas” you think of a giant book filled with maps. Well, that’s not the case here. But The Designer’s Atlas of Sustainability will point you in the direction of changing your thinking about how to be in the business of design. It is NOT laden with tips on recycled stock and the latest in ink technology. Rather, it’s a more philosophical look at how all designers (and not just graphic designers) can do their work in harmony with a sustained planet. There’s also a free teaching guide available for those who would like to bring this point of view into the classroom.designers atlas

117. Forget ink. Use seawater.
May 11, 2009, 9:41 pm
Filed under: Ink, Project Concepts

Curb is a media agency in the U.K. that specializes in using natural materials to build awareness for clients’ products and services. They’ve made “ads” out of cut turf, snow, and sand sculptures, among other healthy things. They’re masters of guerilla advertising — the latest example being their stenciled ads for a London aquarium. Because salt water evaporates more slowly than fresh water, the ads have a lifetime of about 20 minutes, leaving nothing behind but a light dusting of natural sea salt.

Sea Tagging

Sea Tagging

116. Turn old banners into messenger bags
March 11, 2009, 4:18 am
Filed under: Printing

It’s not easy to produce large banners responsibly. The vinyl that is used as the substrate for lots of environmental graphics projects is petroleum-sucking vinyl in many cases — although, to be fair, recycled-content substrates and biodegradable products are now available and produce excellent results. Fortunately, even the traditionally non-recyclable materials are finding a second life at BIGink, a Seattle-based large format graphics producer. Banners produced by the company are being turned into fashionable, durable messenger bags for personal use or resale. They’re not literally silk purses, but they’re definitely made out of sow’s ears.


115. Use ecofont for business printing
February 9, 2009, 4:58 pm
Filed under: Ink, Studio Practices

Of course, you’re doing more business with PDFs than paper, right? But for those times when only a written document will do, change from Times Roman or Arial over to ecofont. It’s a free, multi-platform font based on Verdana, that’s full of holes — the Swiss cheese of type — to save around 20% of the toner you’re currently wasting. Ecofont isn’t Swiss, though, it’s Dutch; brought to you as a public service by the Utrecht-based design firm, SPRANQ.



114. Attend Compostmodern 09
February 8, 2009, 8:53 pm
Filed under: Classes & Resources

It’s been five years since the San Francisco chapter of AIGA started this conversation about sustainable design. Since then, it’s grown into one of the most esteemed events in the industry. If you can’t get to S.F. for the February 21, 2009 event, you can catch the presentations online at until late May.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.