When we talk about pollution we immediately focus on issues such as the corruption of natural resources, deforestation of forests, the high emission of carbon gases, global overheating, among others. However, as a graphic designer, have you stopped to think about how much responsibility we have in it? 

Perhaps at first you might find the question shocking; it might even lead you to believe your work is merely creative... If so, you should stop for a moment and review how graphic design affects the problem of environmental pollution. 

Awareness is the first step towards sustainable graphic design. 

Unfortunately, we have to start by assuming how graphic design has contributed directly to environmental pollution for years.  Just pay attention to the reproduction of all its arts: billboards and advertising banners, informative flyers, labels and product packaging, credit cards, to mention just a few examples. 

We pollute even from the moment we use the computer, through printing, the massive use of paper; and although we are not directly responsible for the overflow of oil into the sea, we are to some extent responsible for much of the waste that ends up there. 

Now, the main purpose is to identify the problem and generate solutions lead us to new ways of working; where recycling, reuse and even digital art do their part of eco-friendly graphic design. 

Sustainable graphic design: Utopia or feasible reality 

There are valuable proposals to be put into practice in order to achieve the implementation of a sustainable, responsible and environmentally friendly graphic design. Obviously, this work must be guided by a sincere commitment that goes beyond individualities and the sole objective of profit. 

A first positive step, for example, is to pay attention to materials. This will allow us to know how their components can impact the environment. In this task, the ecological spirit must prevail over aesthetic achievements because commitment will always be to carry out responsible and environmentally friendly work. 

Proposals to generate positive changes 

For some time now we have been talking about the great problem of mass reproduction in advertising.  Many organizations speaks about thousands of tons of accumulated garbage; as a consequence of the massive reproduction of flyers and banners that after their useful life end up in garbage dumps, seas and oceans.  

One of the most important options proposed as an alternative to this problem is digital marketing. Also, biodegradable packaging emerges as an alternative to reduce the use of packaging generally ends up increasing the problem of environmental pollution. The call is to make a rational use of certain resources and to focus attention on the product.  

An excellent experience of this type was provided by the Puma brand, through its "Clever Little Bag". An ecological bag that they used to deliver their star product: shoes. 

At the time, the brand made it known this cloth bag, which replaced the use of any plastic bag, was recyclable and thanks to its implementation; they were able to make their shipments much simpler, faster and more economical. 

As a graphic designer committed to the environment; you will have to work to reduce pollution as much as possible. In this sense, the main goal will be to use recycled or renewable source materials. 

Commitment will be to find alternatives allow us to produce gear that can be recycled or reused when they exceed their useful life; so they do not end up in the ocean of garbage islands.  

Options should always be oriented to choice of organic and ecological supports. Fortunately, there are alternatives on items such as paper, ink and varnishes, which do a great job in reducing the environmental impact of graphic design. 

Optimize your work tools of graphic designer 

Check your printer and its operating options.  In this part it is essential to take into account not only the type of ink, but even the level of operation of the printer; to achieve a printing system consistent with an ecological design. 

We must be sure of the level and type of gas emissions generated in the printing process. It would also be useful to identify if the printer has any type of electrical or paper saving system. 

The best way to implement a sustainable graphic design is to work with low power consumption equipment and using products with a very low environmental impact or; in the best case, totally ecological. 

Vegetable inks are a solution to the problem of polluting inks. Unfortunately, the market is dominated by petroleum and alcohol-based inks, which are major transmitters of toxic gases that are harmful to the environment. 

On the road to the development of sustainable graphic design, we have at hand high quality products such as natural oil-based inks, which stand out for their excellent absorption. Likewise, water-based varnishes, free of components such as ammonia, represent an environmentally friendly option. 

Another excellent proposal for sustainable graphic design is ecological paper. Although within the industry recycled paper is the most recognized, the truth is, any paper whose production has been respectful with the environment is considered environmentally friendly. 

This kind of paper, usually has a certification endorses it as an environmentally friendly product and in this sense it is always important to verify it. 

After its useful life, what will happen to the product? 

This is a good question to ask to any graphic designer who wants to be an ecologist or protector of the environment. Every creation has been planned to meet certain objectives... but what happens once the product has reached the end of its useful life? 

Among the options to take into account is recycling, reuse or planning for the creation of a totally biodegradable product. Keep in mind the options to achieve sustainable graphic design are available through environmentally friendly materials; and all that is needed is the will to put them into practice. 

From Mandreel we support the development of a high standard graphic design, properly thought and planned in order to generate the least environmental impact. We work every day to generate great changes for the benefit of future generations.