“Most graphics professionals are searching for a few simple things in a paper the highest quality, the easiest functionality, and the lowest price. The goal of this guide is to help you add one more critical consideration to the decision making process: the environmental impact of the paper you specify.
Through your paper choices, you are directly connected to the preservation or the degradation of land, water, air, and the creatures that dwell therein. Paper reps and printers provide guidance on finding the best quality, functionality and price, but often can’t help when it comes to preserving the environment. This guide fills that information gap and points you to the very best recycled and tree free papers on the market today. You will discover that most of these papers are also very competitive in terms of quality, functionality, and price.
The recycled and tree-free papers listed here generate fewer toxins and impact the environment far less than typical virgin wood, chlorine-bleached papers. There are options here in nearly every grade, format and price category. We encourage you to contact the paper manufacturers for samples, pricing, and ordering information, and work with your clients and printers to specify these papers. We developed this guide as an easy-to-use, practical tool that makes it simple to change old paper-buying habits. Use it and share it with your friends. With the right information and a bit of initiative, each of us can reach a higher standard for our graphics projects.”
It’s not clear when the guide was last updated, but do bookmark the page at http://www.celerydesign.com/paper/matrix.html
What’s missing from the list are more tree-free, “synthetic” alternatives to paper like:
Anyone know of other good resources on alternatives to paper?
Update July 27, 2005:
More suppliers of tree-free and recycled papers are listed at Rainforest Web
Update August 28, 2005:
The San Francisco AIGA’s Ecological Guide to Paper lists 20 papers that are either 100% recycled, tree-free, or some combination of both
Update October 31, 2005:
Conservatree has lots of good information:
They also offer consulting services.
For more on changing your organization’s paper policy, see the Environmental Paper Network’s Environmentally Preferable Paper Purchasing Guidance (436 Kb PDF).
Just when you’re pounded by clients and far too busy to think about updating your blog, Print magazine publishes a nice little write-up pointing readers your way:
“Most designers agree, even insist, that design is more than clever imagery selling goods and services — it also influences how societies function. Social Design Notes, a remarkably informed and highly useful blog edited by John Emerson, explores design’s sociopolitical power and inspiration. A New York activist and designer who oversaw Web sites for Amnesty International USA and Human Rights Watch, Emerson launched his blog is 2002 as a ‘bridge between design activism — to push designers to think about acting in the public interest and to help activists see how design can facilitate their campaigns.’ Emerson explores how design is used to support and challenge the status quo, posting one historical note about the ‘Black Panther Coloring Book’ created by the FBI during the civil-right movement, and another about South Africa’s use of the comic book to prepare its citizens for their first election. Emerson also discusses the built environment, praising former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani for having championed design to improve the lives of the disabled. And Social Design Notes’ Resource page contains tools — such as free stock photos — designed to convert readers into true reformers.”
The July/August 2005 issue also has a several excellent articles on sustainable design, and is worth checking out for this alone.
But it makes you wonder — why doesn’t the magazine itself use recycled paper? Despite the “In Print” column which touts the magazine’s “early environmental outlook,” this is not addressed. So, do they care about sustainability or not? I know design magazines are hardly a lucrative venture, but the article “Fiber Optimistic” on page 57 points out that cost differences between recycled paper and not are nowadays “negligible.”
But then why not take it a step further. If toxic printing processes and non-recycled paper are harmful to the environment, why not consider sustainability as a criteria for your annual design competition?
Would this punish designers for the choices of their clients? Perhaps, but then why shouldn’t judging the beauty of a product take into account the nature of physical object itself? If designers care about competitions, why shoudn’t they push their clients that much harder? Why don’t all design competitions consider sustainability as a criteria? Does this impose some kind of “political” viewpoint? One could argue that not requiring this broadcasts a political viewpoint just as clearly.
Would the AIGA’s dues paying members revolt? Certainly some, but as the issue of Print notes (p. 11):
“This year the AIGA formed a national task force to develop policies and programs for the organization in support of sustainability. Following a poll revealing the environment to be the profession’s most pressing concern, the Worldstudio Foundation and the AIGA, through their ‘Design Ignites Change’ collaboration addressing social issues on a local level, made sustainability the focus of their first project.”
Hell, the AIGA’s last national conference was largely devoted to discussion of sustainability.
So at what point does sustainable design cease to be a “special issue”? When does it become incorporated as a fundamental part of what we do? And when do our design institutions take a stand and show some leadership? When do we start demanding it?
Is this all unreasonable? I would point out that it’s already happened once before. The American Institute of Architects, another national design association, went through a very similar internal debate years ago and came out embracing the green.
Update July 18, 2005 — Print responds:
“It’s true, Print does not currently use recycled paper, but we are looking into doing so as soon as our current supply of paper is fully depleted. It has been an economic issue in the past, but we are hoping to persuade our publishers to spend a little extra on this aspect of responsibility.”
It’s a funny thing to see all the flag waving conflated with the whole “support the troops” message today. I support the troops plenty, though not this stupid war. But then what exactly do the troops have to do with the fourth of July? I mean, today is Independence Day! The day we celebrate the American Revolution, when a plucky, unorganized group of armed radicals defeated the professional military of a foreign occupation. A victory for automony over empire! In Iraq, aren’t the U.S. troops a lot closer ye olde army of King George?