With architecture and product design, it’s pretty easy to craft a sustainability or “green” strategy that makes sense. If you’re an architect, you design buildings that are more energy efficient, that promote transit usage, and that utilize sustainable materials. Product designers can create products that are more durable (less waste), require less energy to use or produce, utilize less packaging, or generally encourage greener living.
Most graphic designers, however, don’t produce as many artifacts with the potential to use – or save – large amounts of resources. This makes it a little more challenging to create a meaningful sustainability strategy, and even harder to explain that strategy to current and prospective clients and the community at large.
Sure, you can make a commitment to using recycled paper, but that only gets you so far, and what about the growing number of projects that don’t use paper at all?
The following ten firms, using varying levels of creativity, have managed to devise and present plans or statements that effectively convey their commitments to sustainability. Some of these are more detailed than others, but I think that all of them can provide some inspiration or guidance to other creative firms looking to formulate their own strategies for talking about sustainability.
Creative Slice is an Arizona-based “green website design” firm that puts sustainability at the forefront of their marketing and business plans. The “Green Choices” page on their site details their efforts in a clear, concise manner.
Chicago-based Brainforest describes their sustainability efforts as part of the “Good Works” section of their site. Many of the activities described are minor by themselves, but they add up to a pretty impressive list and create the image of a firm that takes sustainability very seriously. The list also benefits from specific references to services and products the company uses, with links where appropriate.
Digital Eskimo takes a low-key approach, offering a very brief description of their sustainability goals on their “About” page, and then offering details on a few key initiatives, including a rooftop vegetable garden and shared bike program.
Sustainability is a major focus of Ecocreative’s business plan, which is reflected in the fact that the Australian firm features their sustainability plan on the top level of their web site’s navigation. In addition to an intro page, they have a detailed policy section, sections on efforts in the workplace and on the production of client projects, and even an interactive “ecodates” calendar.
Orange Bike Design
The sustainability page on the Orange Bike Design site is pretty straightforward, but they also offer a nicely done series of monthly newsletters on the topic of sustainability.
In addition to their introductory sustainability statement, Roughstock Studios of San Francisco offers some interesting materials for download. There is a purchasing policy that “gives preference to local vendors who meet a stringent set of sustainability and fair trade criteria,” and a PDF brochure that offers advice on how to market your company as a sustainable business without opening yourself up to accusations of “greenwashing.”
As a firm that practices “eco-conscious graphic design,” ecoLingo has green themes integrated throughout most of their site, including a description of their philosophy in the “Integrate” section.
The Greener page on the site of Ripe, a creative studio based in Washington, DC, offers a fairly straightforward philosophy, along with some tips, resources, and a list of organizations they participate in, all in a clean, attractive format.
The sustainable practices of EnviroMedia, an Austin-based “social marketing” firm, are contained within a paragraph on their Culture & Values page. It’s short, and not in the form of a policy or plan, but makes an impact by being well-written.
The sometimes rambling ideas conveyed in the Green Thoughts section of the Designarchy site are probably further from the sustainable design mainstream than any of the other sites included here, but it is worth checking out as an example of a very passionate, personal approach to the topic.
If you have a sustainability plan that you’d like to share, or know of someone else who is doing a good job in this area, feel free to leave a link in the comments.