Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Eco paper made from elephant poo

Yes, papers made out of elephant dung - amazingly innovative, colorful, and printable, and no, it doesn't smell. (I know you were wondering.)
These papers come from places like Sri Lanka and Thailand, and they are a great way to offer paper products without using valuable natural resources.

There are a few different companies that make this unique paper, and it is offered in paper, cardstock and matt board weights.

I think these are the most organic paper solutions we have seen yet. When you think about it, not only are these companies not taking natural resources for profit, but they are actually cleaning up their immediate environment by moving heaps of dung and making it into a marketable product. I can't think of a more sustainable business. BIG BIG love.

Friday, May 14, 2010

First FSC Certified Mail to arrive to my new address

Of all the many papers that have arrived to my new mailbox, I haven't received mail (that wasn't paper samples) that was printed on Forest Stewardship Certified (FSC) Paper. Invoices, statements, junk mail... flyers, coupons, discount cards.... a full month of paper. Oh - all that paper. Someone finally decided to wreak less havoc on trees and send me the first FSC certified mail of the month - and the winner is.....
Don't get me wrong - I love Ecosia. (See Ecosia post.) I love the idea behind the Ecosia Search Engine Plan. I love that searches can have a positive effect on the rainforest, but not only was Google's paper FSC certified, but it also had a Data Matrix / QR Code printed on it to boot. Sustainable and tech-hip.
Run Forest Run !

The only thing I could ask for from Google is that they would use FSC paper that is 100% recycled with a high percentage of post consumer waste instead of "Mixed Sources". (FSC Mixed Sources Label: fiber comes from FSC certified forests in addition to recycled fiber and/or fiber from non-FSC certified controlled sources.)

Ecosia Search Engine Saves the Rainforest

What is Ecosia ?

We just found out about Ecosia, one of the coolest environmental initiatives that we have read about in awhile. Ecosia is a search engine, and like Webcrawler, Yahoo, Google and Bing before it, Ecosia offers a list of sites based on your searched keywords. (Nothing new here yet, but keep reading.)

Ecosia is our new favorite favorite. Its uniqueness is that 80% of its advertising revenue is donated directly to rainforest programs - eighty percent ! They have partnered with Yahoo, Bing and the WWF to protect rainforest in Juruena National Park in the Amazon region of Brazil.
(By WWF we mean the World Wide Fund for Nature kind, not the Hulk Hogan kind. )

Considering that the industry leader Google ranked 34 on the Fortune 500 list of most profitable companies, there’s a lot of possible advertising dollars to be scooped up by Ecosia and put into saving the earth’s oxygen powerhouse. What a breath of fresh air !

Some people will roll their eyes at the fact that Ecosia is partnered with Yahoo and Bing. In Februrary , 2010, Wired ran an article about the two companies search-swapping in an attempt to gain more market share.
It may seem like a cheap-green washing attempt at gaining a slice of the ad-revenue-search-engine pie. And it might be just that. These companies must have been looking for some solution to Google world domination.

Enter Ecosia...

...a small, unknown company from Germany. A company willing to give 80% of their revenue away for the greener good. (WWGD? What would Google Do? Keep Reading - they do more than you would think.)

It only makes sense that Ecosia jump into bed with the larger guys. Bing and Yahoo give them search results, and advertiser's links. Ecosia works like a portal into Bing or Yahoo, and sends back results from both. So, why use Ecosia ? How does it work ? How does Ecosia save the rainforest ?

If you look at their site, they have it all broken down for us. The sponsored links are pay per click links. (This is the same as all the major search engines.) If you click on a sponsored link, the owner of that "advertisement" link pays the search engine a certain amount of money for every person that lands on their site.
Even though most people don’t click on sponsored links when they are searching, some people do. Ecosia averages about 0.13 Euro cents per search. Ecosia then uses 80% of those profits and puts it towards the WWF’s initiative to protect precious rainforest area and ensure that it is not cut down.

How much rainforest is saved each time you search on Ecosia ?
Roughly 2 square meters with every search.
Simple. Amazing. We feel good. They feel good. We love it.

What we love even more is that as more people jump on the Ecosia bandwagon, the more pressure will be put on Google (and the Bing and Yahoo companies themselves) to go even greener. They are already doing some great green things over at Google. Google has been a leader in the eco-friendly initiative and they are not lagging behind.

You, me, your friends and their friends (aka the general public) have a great opportunity here to passively do our part. In the case of the search engine green-off... the simple act of conducting your internet searches elsewhere can not only save green areas, but it could also force larger companies into doing even more for the planet.
If it’s "green" that will move searchers from one search engine to another, and eco-green that ultimately means money-green, then the great strides that have been made in the past few years in public awareness are finally paying off. Big time.
It's amazing to see large companies respond to public demand for change.
I have a feeling that we will be seeing much more of these "who's leaner and greener" campaigns. At the end of the day, this type of positive pressure to leave a size 2 carbon footprint can only have a positive outcome overall.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Where to buy Tree Free Papers

There are many tree-less paper options out there, and as demand goes up, guess what goes down ? You've got it- price.
These coveted papers used to cost an arm and a leg (instead of a tree)- and now they are available from a variety of sources at a range of costs. Some of the people making these treeless papers are listed below.

Sustainable Paper Heaven

Ecopaper makes treeless papers in different flavours.
They have reams of 500 sheets of bright white for $6.99.
These are 80% tree free and made from sugar cane wastes (otherwise known as bagasse.) The price is right both bank-wise and environmental-wise.

Most of the 100% post-consumer waste products that I have seen look like regular white paper. (Of course, if only makes sense, this is the paper that most people use every day, all the time.) But for some projects we need paper that looks recycled. If you are looking for something that is not only forest-friendly but that also has the texture and grain that screams friend of the environment, then look no further.

Their reams of amazingly coloured and textured papers are nice to look at, are 100% tree free, and made with 100% post consumer content. They also have card / cover stock. (yipee!)
These beautiful papers make me smile. Instead of trees, Ecopaper uses wastes from banana, cofee, lemon, mango and cigar. A worthy cause worth supporting.

Where to Buy Environmentally Friendly Papers

List is updated every week:

New Leaf Paper :
New Leaf Paper (San Francisco) sells 100% post consumer waste recycled, Forest Stewardship Council Certified, processed chlorine free and Ancient forest friendly papers. (See their uncoated and offset papers.) They also have 100% recycled, 50% post consumer waste coated options.

Living tree paper co. from Eugene, Oregon sells recycled and tree-free papers. They hvae uncoated options that are 90% post consumer waste and 10% hemp/flax, as well as a variety of other options.

Ecopaper.com 100% tree free paper made from sugarcane (bagasse) wastes, tobacco and mango!

Where to buy Elephant Dung Paper

How Designers Can Save Paper

  • Think digital ! Offer alternative promotional materials to traditional flyer and brochure campaigns.
  • Learn about and suggest guerilla and viral marketing when appropriate
  • Instead of a direct mail campaign, suggest the client does an html emailer campaign. These can be more effective if well targeted.
  • Proof your designs on-screen. Learn about monitor calibration and colour profiles to do this, and find printers that do the same. Think about all of those print-outs !
  • Send pdf proofs to clients instead of printed copies
  • Minimize the use of whitespace (Take a deep breath. Know that exquisite typography and thoughtfully designed layouts don't really need half a page of white to make them great. Trees will thank you.)
  • Use smaller point-size for your type if it means "still legible while saving a full sheet of paper."
  • Make elegant "thin" business cards, or square cards for up to 50% less raw material per card.
  • Ask your client to be more precise. Cut out wordiness and create smaller brochures. Diptych your Triptych.
  • Make sure your packages designs don't include 3 layers of wrap before finding the product. It's lavish, it screams couture - but it's also highly wasteful.
  • Design unique packaging that can be reused or repurposed. Create a solution that people won't want to throw away.
  • Use recycled paper. But not any recycled paper. Prefer 100% post consumer waste options. They are out there ! Check out Mohawk Papers.
  • Try to use papers that have been recycled without the use of chlorine. Chlorine-Free your world - and if you can find papers that use less water in the process, then give yourself an extra pat on the back.
  • Print on both sides of the paper
  • If you need to print physical proofs for specific colours, print out smaller proofs (i.e.: 4, 8, or 12 per page) to see differences in colour. You can get all the colour proofing done in one shot and one sheet this way, and save ink and paper in the long run. (All of those toxic plastic plants making less cartridges and all of those standing trees will make a difference in the long run.)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Environmental sustainability : A Guide for Designers and Clients

Graphic Designers are behind a large amount of the world's paper marketing materials. We create brochures, business cards, and newspaper ads - we are the people formatting type daily in newspaper columns, sending flyers off to the printers, and typesetting books - and we also the ones responsible for designing packaging, creating POP and display materials... (et. al, et. al, et. al...) This list could go on forever.

We are behind almost all paper items in circulation.

If it has text on it, and it's meant to promote, educate, or explain - we've been there.
So where does that leave us as far as the environment goes ?
Well, pretty darn responsible.

*sigh* I know, I know, we can blame the client that ordered a billion useless flyers only to see them tossed in the garbage at the end of the day, right ?

Not really.

As the designers behind the paper, we should help curb our clients' over-ordering (and over-spending) habits if they include poorly targeted promotional materials that end up in the garbage at the end of the day. We can save reams and reams of paper this way.
At the end of the day... paper comes from trees, and when we cut trees we release C02 into the air.

Paper = trees. Cut trees = CO2

There are many things that we can do to minimize the use of paper in our studios, and conversely, to maximize each piece when we have to use it.

If you work in promotions, design, advertising, printing, or marketing, I welcome you to browse the pages and posts and join me on my journey as I learn about the best sustainable practices in 2010.

If you are a business owner, large or small, this blog is for you too ! You are ultimately responsible for ordering a plethora of printable materials. From corporate brochures, pamphlets, business cards, letterhead - to manuals, packaging, and gift certificates - you can make a huge difference in your overall carbon footprint if you choose to partake in sustainable business practices. There is a strange myth out there that environmentally friendly means more expensive, and I am here to explain why it's not. You can change the way you approach your marketing so that it costs you less money and saves the planet. Isn't that a worthwhile thing to investigate ?