Graphic Design Through A Sustainability Lens

900 Words Nov 2nd, 2015 4 Pages
Graphic design through a sustainability lens
As the language, methods, and practice of sustainable graphic design evolve, what constitutes sustainable graphic design becomes less clear. Looking at graphic design through the various lenses of sustainability can help guide what this might mean in practice.
A single-focused approach
Contemporary understanding of sustainability has deep roots in environmentalism (Edwards, ch. 1). A prime example is Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring, which first brought to light the devastating effects of man-made chemicals on the environment. Not surprisingly, then, environmental impacts, such as printing and paper waste, are the first thing to come to mind when trying to apply sustainability concepts to the graphic design process. Some commonly applied solutions to these environmental impacts include the use of recycled paper and vegetable-based inks, and creating digital PDFs instead of printed materials.
Design focused on environmental impacts is commonly referred to as eco-design. The practice of “eco-design” is often seen as a starting place for graphic designers as it is easy to understand, tangible, and within their control. The
Limitation of this design approach is that it often does not consider larger, system-wide impacts. For example, a graphic designer may focus efforts on “greening” a client’s packaging by switching from a petroleum-based plastic to bamboo. The designer can now claim the package is made from a renewable…
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