Graphic Design – Going Green

Green design is also known by other names: environmental design, environmentally-conscious design, environmentally sustainable design (EDS) and sustainable design.

Graphic designers have also begun taking a greener approach to what they do- which leads us to “green graphic design.”

While environmentally conscious designers use environment-friendly products such as soy-based ink and recycled paper, there are undoubtedly more ways to practice green graphic design.

A Greener Approach

Greener Approach Header

Before beginning the design phase of any project, consider its “after-life” first- reevaluate the overall marketing scheme. If you are working on a project that requires delivering a direct mail piece, ensure that it doesn’t just get thrown away. Is it possible to deliver mail that prospects will hang on to, maybe even displaying it in their workstations (with the added bonus of regular visibility for the client’s brand), share with family and friends or recycle? If we keep this in mind, we can ensure that promotional materials stay with our intended customers instead of being thrown away.


Is the client’s budget only enough for a postcard-sized piece? Consider sending out email blasts instead, which can also save target audiences time and effort. Asking your target audience to “click here” via a newsletter to look at a website is effortless, compared to making them input the web address manually. E-blasts that contain relevant and useful information increases the chance that the recipient will keep the piece for future reference, increasing the chance that the client’s business will have face-time.

Light-Side Printing

Printing on the lighter side


Consider using water-, soy- and vegetable-based inks instead of petroleum-based products. Green graphics design does not end with ink since the paper that you print on needs to be reconsidered. Environmentally-conscious graphic designers keep in mind that minimal ink is better for the environment.


Re-think your design- include white space, avoid full-bleed printing, and remember which Pantone colors include hazardous compounds listed on the EPA’s watch-list. Use standard paper sizes as much as you can (8.5×11”, 24×36”, etc.) and plan your design around them to minimize oddly-shaped materials and paper scrap what will just get thrown away. Doing so reduces both ink coverage and paper costs.

Paper Selection

Paper Selection Image


Keep in mind that there is more to paper- sustainability doesn’t focus on just the recycled content.


The two types of sources for recycled paper – pre-consumer waste and post-consumer waste- both go through a de-inking process as it is recycled. De-inking strips the paper of inks and dyes- the left over toxic matter remains in landfills, along with inorganic matter, which can seep into water systems and may even pollute the air.


Refresh yourselves on the three levels of chlorine-free processes set by the EPA to ensure that your piece remains sustainable.


Printing Methods Image


As a designer practicing green graphic design, remember that dyography, digital printing, flexography and letterpress are printing technologies that are the most environment-friendly. These varying options lets you have more control over the resulting paper waste since they can utilize petroleum-free inks- their drying methods are also less hazardous to your staff and the environment.

MicroCreatives, an evangelist of green graphic design, is the premier graphic design studio in the Philippines. Contact us now for more!