The Ethical Business Guide: Green Design

BY FEARGHAL CORBETT

THE GOOD FOLK

GETTING THE RIGHT BRANDING, DESIGN AND MARKETING CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE TO THE SUCCESS OF YOUR BUSINESS AND SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCE YOUR IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT.

BRANDING

As an ethical business you need to be open and honest, and reflect this in your branding and message. This can be communicated by a well-designed logo and look, but also through the tone you use. Using straightforward language, being transparent about your activities – both good and bad – and avoiding ‘sales speak’ can help to build trust in your audience.

THE MARKETING MIX

When you’ve got your branding sorted out, you need to consider how you promote yourself and reach potential customers. There are lots of options available, such as websites, e-marketing, print, PR, advertising, events and stunts.

Being imaginative in your choices and ideas can make you stand out from the crowd and potentially reduce adverse environmental impacts. For example, do you need to print 50,000 leaflets or could you achieve the same result and more with a clever PR stunt?

The printing industry is the fourth largest in the UK, and careful procurement of your print publicity can make a big difference. There are several factors to consider:

1) THE DESIGN

This is the stage where most of the crucial decisions determining the end result are made. Finding a designer that not only understands your business,
but can advise you on printing and its effects on the environment – from carbon emissions to harmful chemicals – can get your project on the right track.

2) THE PAPER

Your choice of paper can have the biggest impact on the environment. The greenest option is 100 per cent post consumer waste recycled paper, which uses less energy to manufacture and doesn’t involve chopping down more trees. The quality of recycled paper has come a long way in recent years and there is a wide variety to choose from. If you do use paper from virgin forests, there are certifications to prove that it comes from well-managed, sustainable sources.

If you consider the energy needed to produce an item of print, the majority is used in paper production, so the mill it comes from makes a huge difference. Currently, all paper mills in the UK are powered by fossil fuels. Sourcing your paper from renewable energy powered mills in the US or Sweden can actually reduce its carbon footprint because the additional CO2 from its transportation is far less than the CO2 saved in its production

3) THE PRINTER

There are over 10,000 printers in the UK with varying environmental credentials, from those that do the bare minimum to the ones who excel. But how do you know which ones to pick? The best way is to see what environmental certifications they have (see box on left).

4) OTHER CONSIDERATIONS

Quantity: Most medium sized print runs are done on litho presses. Because of the high set-up cost of doing a litho print run, many businesses order too many copies in case they run out. This creates waste and is a real area for consideration.

Paper weight: Thinner paper means less paper is used and and less energy consumed.

Digital: Smaller runs can be done on digital, which is effectively a large, high- quality photocopier. With digital printing there is no ‘make ready’ wastage and practically no set up cost, so no need to order more copies than required.

THE PRINTING INDUSTRY IS THE FOURTH LARGEST IN THE UK – CAREFUL PROCUREMENT OF YOUR PRINT PUBLICITY CAN MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE.

PRINT CHOICES — GOOD:

  • Recycled paper (preferably 100 per cent post consumer waste)
  • Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper
  • Uncoated paper
  • Chlorine free (ECF, PCF and TCF). All papers made in the EU no longer use chlorine bleaching.
  • Vegetable oil-based inks (most litho inks are now vegetable oil-based)
  • Water-based varnishes
  • Standard paper sizes (such as A4 and A5) save on waste
  • Less ink coverage conserves ink and makes paper easier to recycle

PRINT CHOICES — BAD:

  • Mineral-based inks
  • Lamination (metallics and fluorescents)
  • Glue binding
  • UV varnishes
  • CERTIFICATIONS:

EMAS (Eco-management and Audit Scheme) has the highest environmental standards. There are just a handful of printers in the UK that have this certification.

ISO14001 This is an international scheme in environmental management and a good number of printers now have this.

(EMAS and ISO14001 are costly, and can be difficult for small printers to attain. There are smaller schemes, such as Green Dragon in Wales and Greenmark in London which work on similar principles of continuous environmental improvement.)

FSC CERTIFICATION FOR PRINTERS
This certification ensures that the paper has been tracked all the way from an FSC forest to the printer and means a printer can put a FSC logo on your FSC paper print jobs.

© BLUE ROCKET AND THE GOOD FOLK 2009