Greenologue Sustainability Primer 2017 (PDF)

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Sustainability Primer
for Graphic Designers




For any designer that is serious about business, conducting good
business practice is one of the top priority. When we look into the
future, we know that there is a need to change the way live, work
and conduct our operations in order to sustain ourselves and our
future generations.
We have always prided ourselves at our ability to produce great
creative work and to educate our clients through the good and
intimate working relationships that we have and it is no different
with our application of sustainable practices.

To meet present
needs without
compromising the
abilit y of future
generations to meet
their needs.

From our day to day lifestyle and habits at the office, to the way we
interact with each other and the how we conduct design and production
procedures; there is an opportunity for sustainability to exist.

It is the balanced use of natural, social and economic capital for the
continued health of the planet and future generations.

“Do onto yourself as
you would do
That is the stem of this manual. It serves as a guideline on how we
can practice sustainability at the professional and personal level.
Let’s start with ourselves then spread the values onto those whose
paths we cross.
Use tools such as back-casting, scenario planning and collect
an inventory of your environment to assist you in designing and
implementing the systems condition into your work.





“The Natural Step Framework” – it is a comprehensive model
for planning in complex systems. It is openly published and free
for all to use. The Natural Step Framework has helped hundreds
of different organisations around the world integrate sustainable
development into their strategic planning and create long lasting
transformative change. It is constantly being used, tested, refined
and developed.

In a sustainable society, nature is not subject to systematically
increasing concentrations of substances extracted from the
earth’s crust.
To become a sustainable society we must eliminate our contribution
to the progressive build up of substances extracted from the earth’s
crust such as heavy metals and fossil fuels. In order to conserve this
natural resource, we need to look at our surrounding and determine
where electricity is being used.
How to apply

Use natural light
Switch off computers and modems daily
Use electricity only when needed
Use rechargeable batteries
Use recycled paper
Ride a bicycle or take public transports
Cut down transportation by having online meetings



In a sustainable society, nature is not subject to systematically
increasing concentrations of substances produced by society.
Eliminate our contribution to the progressive buildup of chemicals
and compounds produced by society (for example, dioxins, PCBs,
and DDT).

Specify the use of plastic as materials (when designing packaging for
products), to a minimum. Use alternatives to plastic.
The world uses over 1.2 trillion plastic bags a year. That averages
about 300 bags for each adult on the planet. That comes out to
over one million bags being used per minute.
Using plastics such as PVC is highly unbiodegradable and is harmful
to the environment.
How to apply

Opt for PLA or Polylacticacid instead of plastics
Use recycled materials
Avoid foil-stamping and coated paper
Avoid packaging paper and plastic such as lamination as that
makes it hard for recycling


Many of these substances do not go away, but spread and bioaccumlate in nature and fat cells of animals and human. In order
to decrease the concentrations of man-made substances, we must
consider the lifetime of what we are designing for.
How to apply

Ask where the materials we are designing for will end
Consider how effective the material is to client’s business.
Go digital
Develop product return policies - so less is being used
Minimise material wastes


Inks contain chemicals and metals in the additive which becomes
sludge after the de-inking process that requires more chemicals in
the process. Solvents used for press-washes and blanket-washes
also contain high amounts of VOCs.
How to apply

• Use vegetable-based inks and or water-based solvent
• Choose colours that have low amount of metal
• Use black as far as possible




In a sustainable society, nature is not subject to systematically
increasing degradation by physical means.

In order to eliminate our contribution to the progressive physical
degradation and destruction of nature and natural processes
we must look into more efficient ways of using paper so as to
conserve natural forests. Growing and cutting down trees can harm
forest ecosystems and wildlife, but do less harm if the best forest
management practices are used.

To become a sustainable society we must eliminate our contribution
to the progressive physical degradation and destruction of nature
and natural processes (for example, over harvesting forests and
paving over critical wildlife habitat).
Natural forests are habitats to a myriad of species and ecosystems,
which will be destroyed when deforestation and clear-cutting occurs.
Consider ways in which your decision can make an impact on the
environment. There is no need to stop using paper altogether to
help the environment, but using less is important and the paper we
do buy should be “greener” because it’s used efficiently and made
with higher recycled content, cleaner manufacturing processes, and
better forest management.

How to apply

• Using less paper, recycle more and buy recycled
• Support cleaning paper-making and avoid using bleached white

paper because they requires large amounts of water, chemicals,
and energy and produces air and water pollution.

• Think forests. Not all paper can be 100% recycled, so no matter

how good you are at “buying recycled,” some paper you purchase
will probably contain virgin fibre

• Consider tree-free paper such as hemp, kenaf and agripulp

How to apply

• Send a signal. Tell your suppliers that you’re looking for paper
that meets you needs for price and performance and that’s
easier on the environment

• Keep asking. New paper products are becoming available, prices
are constantly changing, and many myths about paper and the
environment are being overturned

• When you find “greener” paper that meets you needs for price

and performance, buy it because by purchasing greener paper,
you reward the paper companies that make the best products
and also more people ask for environmentally preferable paper,
paper companies will make more of it


Saving water is an important piece of an overall effort to conserve.
We consider it our right to buy things, regardless of whether we need
them, and as a result our country consumes more and more every
year. We need to remember our affluence has an effect on the planet.


Saving water is an important piece of an overall effort to conserve.
We consider it our right to buy things, regardless of whether we
need them, and as a result our country consumes more and more
every year. In addition to all the things we buy, we also use an
enormous amount of energy just to operate our homes.
How to apply

• Reduce consumerism - The factories that manufacture everyday

materials like paper, plastic, metal and fabric depend on water to
make and clean their factory and products
• Think about how we use and re-use products is an important step
towards water conservation

• Eating less and especially less meat will help conserve water
• Switching to clean and sustainable energy sources like wind
and solar power because power plants use heat to generate
electricity and require large amounts of water to cool down

• Stop using bottled water - tap water is clean and free
• Use low- flow shower heads and low flush toilets
• Wastewater reuse or recycling systems, allowing reuse of gray

water for flushing toilets or watering gardens, and recycling of
wastewater through purification at a water treatment plant

“The fourth system
condition is so important
that it would make more
sense to invert their
order and make it the
FIrst. We wouldn’t need
The Natural Step were it
not for human activit y.
Thus, while the FIrst
three system conditions
express the rel ationship
between human and
living systems, the fourth
implies that there needs
to be different internal
rel ationships within
human systems – without
which ecological change
is impossible.”

Well-known author, environmentalist, and entrepreneur




In a sustainable society, people are not subject to conditions that
systemically undermine their capacity to meet their needs.

Consider ways in which your decision can make an impact on the
on the lives of people. Take into account Max Neef’s Human Basic
needs when collaborating at work or at home.

To become a sustainable society we must eliminate our contribution
to conditions that undermine people’s capacity to meet their basic
human needs (for example, unsafe working conditions and not
enough pay to live on).

Max-Neef (economist and environmentalist) classes the
fundamental human needs as:
subsistence • protection • affection • understanding • participation
• leisure • creation • identity • freedom
In order for a person to lead a fulfilling life, the person’s wages
should be sufficient. A poor person who cannot meet his basic
needs will not concern himself with the first three system
conditions. When natural systems are uprooted, the people whose
basic needs are not fulfilled will be the most affected. Natural
resources should be available to everyone and at the same cost,
such is the rule of thumb of fairtrade.

Fairtrade is a strategy for poverty alleviation and sustainable
development. Its purpose is to create opportunities for producers
and workers who are economically disadvantaged or marginalised by
the conventional trading system.

How to apply

• Give them equal opportunity to enjoy the planet and all that it
has to offer

• Ensure fairtrade is practised
• Give them the opportunity to improve their lives through training
and empowerment.

• Implement green economy - and demand for it - to create job
opportunities for all

• Meet higher than minimum pay levels
• Treat everyone with dignity and respect
• Respect your workers’ and suppliers’ livelihood and pay on time


Carbon offsetting
The act of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions by funding projects that
reduce their impact, such as sustainable power generation, changes in land
use and forestry.

Processed Chlorine Free (PCF)
Paper is made from fibre recycled from post-con- sumer waste (PCW)
and unbleached or bleached without Chlorine compounds. PCF paper is
the most environmentally friendly type.

Cotton paper
Cotton papers are superior in both strength and durability to wood pulpbased papers, which often contain high concentrations of destructive acids.

Recycled paper
Paper made from old paper that has been de-inked and processed chemically.

Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF)
Paper made from virgin or recycled fibre that is bleached using alternative
Chlorine compounds as a substitute for elemental Chlorine.
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
An international organization that has developed standards emphasizing
environmentally- and socially responsible criteria to certify and label wood
products from well-managed forests.
Genetically ModiFIed Organism (GMO)
An organism whose genetic material has been altered using the
genetic engineering techniques generally known as Recombinant DNA
technology. Sustainable soy ink uses non-GMO soybean oil.
An Indian plant with long fibres in its bark suitable for paper-making.
Kyoto Protocol
An agreement made under the United Nations Framework on Climate
Change. Countries that ratify this protocol commit to reduce their
emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases,or engage in
emissions trading if they maintain or increase emissions of these gases.

Soy ink
An alternative to petroleum based ink that contains lower levels of
VOCs and is biodegradable. Sustain- able soy ink consists of non-GMO
soybean oil.
Totally Chlorine Free (TCF)
Paper made from 100% virgin fibre (including alternative fibre from
sources other than trees) that is unbleached or bleached with nonChlorine com- pounds. TCF cannot apply to recycled papers, because the
source fibre cannot be determined.
Vegetable-based inks
Inks made from vegetable by-products, including soy.
Virgin fibre
Wood fibre, or Paper pulp, that has never been recycled.
Volatile Organic Compound (VOC)
A highly evaporative, carbon-based chemical substance, which produces
noxious fumes; found in paints, caulks, stains, and adhesives.

Post-Consumer Waste (PCW)
Waste collected after the consumer has used and disposed of it.

Source: AIGA Centre for Sustainable Design

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