In this current climate, it’s more important than ever for businesses to ensure they stay as eco-friendly and sustainable as possible. And that’s not just for environmental reasons – sustainability is also about being economically savvy and saving money.
With the climate change movement intensifying, brands are increasingly looking at ways they can reduce their consumption and carbon footprint. There are various accessible and cost-effective measures your company can take to reduce your carbon footprint and affect your environmental impact. This can be achieved both through creating a more environmentally friendly workplace and culture, as well as through a more sustainable design output and eco-friendly offering for clients.
The first thing to look at is how environmentally friendly you are within your team. Are you trying to reduce the resources that contribute to pollution? Starting to spread awareness at work and making green thinking a part of your company culture is a key consideration, and it all starts with the kit and media you use.
All those powerful workstations your creative team use day in, day out can have a big environmental impact, so it’s important to think about the machines you bring into the business and make sure the manufacturers have a good approach to the environment. For example, Apple consider sustainability at every part of their production and operation now, with the aim to reduce environmental impact from their end, from their suppliers and from their products’ end users.
Their MacBook Air and Mac mini enclosures are made from 100% recycled aluminium, while still being incredibly long-lasting and durable. Apple recycle old devices for free so that their materials can be used again, which means fewer products going to landfill. Apple products are 70% more energy efficient now than they were ten years ago. With the new Mac Pro, Apple have managed to squeeze 300 watts of power out of the processor, while keeping it cool with a massive heat sink. And with many companies now choosing to centralise their hardware, it’s important to make sure it’s heat- and energy-efficient.
It’s also worth looking at displays. While running a dual display setup doesn’t really draw much more power than a single display, it’s good practice to keep displays on standby or sleep mode when not in use (which is also essential for your GDPR considerations!). Some manufacturers, such as EIZO, have even built-in eco-friendly settings that optimise their screens to minimise power consumption (their FlexScan range have built-in eco-friendly features such as a calculator which totals the potential energy saving you could be making). Rolling these energy-saving features across your whole team will start to make a real impact.
Physical v digital
Paper is a massive contributor to the consumption of forest resources. Cutting down on paper usage is great, but putting a recycling scheme in place is important. Even better is considering a paperless workflow, to cut down on all those reams of paper used in proofing and approvals processes.
Digital and cloud computing solutions have enabled companies to become more collaborative, streamlined, efficient and green, too. Apps like Microsoft Office and Google Drive are great for coordinating and collaborating on work projects, and a solution like Adobe Acrobat and Document Cloud lets you create a paperless proofing workflow, swapping out paper and ink for an eco-friendly alternative.
Acrobat’s Document Cloud services help teams to collaborate on projects between departments digitally, saving money in printing costs and postage, all leading to a more eco-friendly and sustainable paperless workflow.
It’s also much faster, cheaper and greener to send a file digitally. We’ve heard a few instances recently where companies in the capital are still sending project files via courier on a physical hard drive, when there are multiple services that let you transfer files easily via the cloud (talk to us about IBM Aspera!). We all know about the lethal levels of air pollution in London, so any way to reduce emissions and improve efficiency in vehicles and transportation is a great step, especially if you’re working internationally.
The next thing to think about is how far your physical design output is going to ensure sustainability. Last month, we were talking about the resurgence of print marketing, and while we all love a good bit of print, there are certain considerations which can help your print output be more sustainable.
Studies have shown that consumers are more receptive to brands who make an effort to be more eco-friendly. In fact, 80% of consumers are more inclined to support companies and brands with a history of sustainability. So how can you make your output more eco-friendly?
Looking at your paper print media is a start. Using chlorine-free paper rather than the paper materials that have been bleached using chlorine (known as Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) or Process Chlorine Free (PCF)). Also, inks used in printing often contain pollutants that include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which contribute to global warming and climate change. So if you’re outputting printed materials such as packaging, it’s worth looking at how you can cut down on excessive materials and ink. Traditional inks were toxic, petroleum or mineral oil-based and harmful to dispose of, but eco ink is normally vegetable or soy-based, so much better for the planet. Solopress reportthat the volatile emissions from eco ink are often as low as 4%, compared to mineral and petroleum-based inks which can produce emissions of 25% to 40%.
Some considerations are easy to implement into design output. For example, reducing the fill colours in your design bleed to reduce ink, or even thinking about how much ink you’re using in your branded materials. This experiment by EcoBranding shows that reducing the colour in multinational brands’ logos can significantly cut ink and costs when printing at mass.
Even darker screens can help in some way to reduce power consumption. Apple have certainly bought into the concept, releasing Dark Mode in macOS Mojave and iOS 13, to invert the usual white background and black text to apply a black background and white text in apps and menus on your device. Dark Mode conserves screen energy by getting screen pixels to shine less brightly, while also reducing eye strain for users. App developers, take heed!
So, it’s really a question of changing our culture. We need to think about adapting sustainable design guidelines in order to reduce pollution and waste, reduce pollutants from materials like ink and paper, and reduce electricity usage. With this ethos and culture in place, we’ll not only help reduce the effects on the planet, but reduce costs and promote ourselves as greener, which in turn encourages customer trust.
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