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Tips for Green Design & Printing
Twenty nine years ago, when we founded the country’s first printing company focused on creating and implementing environmentally responsible printing practices, being green was not easy! We literally had to beg mills to make papers with recycled fibers, help write procurement guidelines establishing government preferences for recycled papers, and even show some of the oldest, most-respected environmental groups in America that it really didn’t make sense for them to encourage recycling and environmental stewardship while using non-recycled papers.
Fortunately, a lot has changed for the better.
Now, there are independently certified recycled papers, process chlorine-free papers, paper made with pulp from sustainably managed forests, papers made with renewable energy, even carbon neutral papers. Vegetable-based inks are readily available. And, renewable energy sources are available for printers to buy for production.
There’s really no excuse for not printing green.
There are lots of ways to reduce your environmental footprint in addition to using recycled papers. Here’s a brief list:
Guidelines for environmentally responsible design and printing:
- Consider whether the piece needs to be printed.
- Can a printed piece serve multiple purposes? For example, an Annual Report that is also a calendar; or a mailing envelope that is also a return device (Netflix).
- Use the lightest weight possible for your printed piece.
- Clean up your mailing list BEFORE the project starts to get an accurate assessment of the quantity needed. This is an inexpensive (sometimes free) service.
- Reduce the size of what you print – a reduction of as little as a quarter of an inch can reduce paper consumption by 15%.
- Reduce ink coverage when you can. Use vegetable-based or soy inks – avoid metallic inks.
- Utilize new technologies such as QR codes to reduce the amount of copy on your printed piece and drive readers to your website (see image below).
- Plan ahead and coordinate purchasing for multiple projects, departments or offices. Less paper will be wasted with fewer production cycles – and you will probably save a great deal of money.
- Use corn or cellulose-based laminates if you must laminate.
- Avoid foil-stamping (emboss instead) and UV coatings that are difficult to recycle – use aqueous coatings instead.
Consider these and other strategies when planning your next printed piece.