Eat You Greens: Sustainability Roundtable Recap
February 05, 2010 Filed Under: Events 0 Comments
On Wednesday, January 13, 2010, twenty-four professionals from a range of fields gathered at the ImaginOn to participate in AIGA Charlotte's first "Eat Your Greens" event. The discussion served as a "Sustainability Roundtable," with everybody contributing and exchanging ideas. The event was put together by the AIGA Charlotte Green Team made up of Trent Edwards, John Howard, Jenna MacFarlane, Rachel Martin and Luke Atkinson. The Green Team's mission is to promote sustainability and socially responsible design within our local design community and at all AIGA Charlotte events.
Leigh Brinkley of Brinkley Design, served as the moderator for the event and kicked things off by going through some of the ways she incorporates green practices into her lifestyle, hammering home the idea that it's hard to, "Separate my thinking about sustainability as a design issue and thinking about it as a way of life." From there, the discussion touched upon a variety of issues and topics:
On viewing environmental practices from a holistic perspective:
Practice what you preach. Making more environmental decisions at a grassroots level is how everything starts. As designers, it is our responsibility to communicate these practices to our clients and set this change into motion.
Leigh Brinkley of Brinkley Design noted that, "The economy has made us reconsider who we are and the best thing we can do from a business point of view is to give our clients these [environmental] options – to educate them." It's important to be consistent in our actions. Endeavor to be responsible to our client and colleagues, because it is through our actions that we can set an example and lead others to action.
Progress is being made in Charlotte. Gianluca Camarda, an industrial designer at BOLTgroup, said he has noticed changes in environmentally conscious design in Charlotte since moving here two years ago. He noted that in other countries – in Japan and Europe – it's a way of life for the industry. There's more awareness in the culture and this in turn increases demand while driving down costs.
Environmental printing options can be significantly more expensive than the regular options. In an instance brought up by Adam Rouse of Belk Printing, their "Extreme Green" option cost a client $4500 vs. $3000. The client really wanted to make the job as environmentally-friendly as possible so opted for the $1500 cost increase. Until awareness increases, costs won't go down. Designers are in a position where they can inform their clients about the environmental impact of certain printing methods, inks, etc. and increase demand for alternate environmental options.
Ben Wright of Action Graphics agreed, saying "The biggest problem is that they have all the capabilities at their disposal, but there isn't awareness there in the consumer." It's up to designers to educate the client – raise awareness. If more people demand it, cost will go down. It's as simple as that.
On designers' influence:
There's a difference between between being sustainable and appearing sustainable, or greenwashing. Rob Eggers, a LEED AP site and land designer at the CPCC Center for Sustainability, noted the difficulties in the designer's position. "It's easy as designer or contractor to immediately accept new technologies, only to have them not work, and have to replace them in three years. The bottomline is that you have to dig deep and get past all the hype and hysteria before making these decisions."
Alan Nelson, a senior industrial designer at Lowes, offered an example of how small actions can cause large changes. He increased the water efficiency on a certain model of shower heads. When put into use, the number of units it was projected to sell, would save 1.8 billion gallons of water. Changes at the level of an individual unit result in larger changes when this unit is mass-produced.
Designers should push to have sustainable packaging at all costs. This can be difficult. Take the example of Chinese manufacturers. The problem is that when a product gets damaged, it either gets returned by the consumer or thrown out by the store it was returned to. In turn, the Chinese vendor gets charged for these losses. So, to combat this, Chinese vendors go overboard on packaging to make sure the products don't sustain any damage. But the solution can be smarter packaging, not simply more of it. Less packaging equals less weight which means less fuel costs and less shipping costs and it's up to the designer to understand this kind of less obvious savings as a selling point.
Carolyn Colonna, AIGA Charlotte President, brought up the question about the choice between recycled and FSC-certified (Forest Stewardship Council) paper; "Is the amount of reprocessing recycled paper's post-consumer waste more damaging than FSC-certified paper?" Shannon Binns of the Green Press Initiative, said it was a myth. "Making paper into paper is easier than making a tree into paper – it's not comparable. Ideally, you will have both a combination of FSC and recycled."
Information and resources:
Select either a 100 percent post-consumer waste (PCW), recycled, processed chlorine free (PCF), uncoated, FSC certified paper made with renewable energy (ie wind, geothermal, solar, etc) or treeless paper made with bamboo, hemp and/or kenaf if readily available locally. Also, select papers from mills who care (Mohawk, Neenah, New Leaf, etc).
Ask for specifically low VOC inks or specify 100% vegetable-based inks. Avoid using metallic and fluorescent inks as they usually contain high proportions of metals such as barium and copper. The book: Green Graphic Design by Brian Dougherty has a great resource for inks containing potentially hazardous metals.
Calculate your press sheet to get the most up per sheet and the least amount of waste. Avoid bleeds. Use mechanical bindings such as saddle stitch or wire-o which is easily recyclable and watch your adhesives when binding.
:: Design ::
Global coalition working together to create positive environmental and social impact
Resource for the graphic design industry providing definitions, tips, and links to sustainable resources designers can use to make their work a little greener.
Current pulse on the design community, with strong focus on social and environmental change
Integrated media platform for people who want to live well and do good
Design21 Social Design Network “Better Design for the Greater Good” is a partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) which connects people who want to explore ways that design can positively impact our communities – ways that are thoughtful, informed, creative and responsible.
:: Lifestyle ::
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in North and South Carolina
Find local farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area.
Epicuriou's interactive map to see what's fresh in your area
Resource to find safe, healthy and green products
Guide to local resources including recycling centers, how to recycle, pollution prevention and how help protect the environment.
Local nonprofit organization to improve North Carolina’s environment through voluntary contributions toward renewable energy and the mitigation of greenhouse gases. A typical contribution of just $4 per month adds one block of 100 kilowatt-hours of green energy to North Carolina’s power supply.
Thank you to everyone who participated in this discussion. All are encouraged to check out The Living Principles which was created by the AIGA Center for Sustainable Design. They weave together environmental protection, social equity, economic health and cultural vitality — bringing to life, the first quadruple bottom-line framework for design.
If anyone has any questions, please submit them below. Please forward any good resources to us as well so we can all move this effort and conversation forward.
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