As a ‘Graphic Communication’ student a CSAD, I have become aware that designers are often involved in producing work that is generated on a mass scale including packaging, advertising mail, flyers, informational booklets, posters etc. These products are often discarded once they have done their job and I believe that as designers we have a responsibility in understanding the impact they are having on our environment. We are living in a world that has come to rely on consuming its natural sources for our convenience, yet we are now developing ways in which our ecological impact can be reduced. As designers we can follow certain steps to lower our excessive waste:
Using recycled paper
Purchasing vegetable rather than chemical based inks
Refilling used ink cartridges instead of buying new ones
Being aware of our energy consumption
Keeping printing to a minimum
Ensuring your design is durable to avoid reproduction
However, as communicators we can also help to inform others on the issue of sustainability. By using eco-friendly methods of design there is an opportunity to lead by example and influence clients into considering their own methods of sustainability.
Due to a recent project based around ‘Consumerism’, I was able to research into the topic of excessive consumption and its impact on the world around us. I came across some staggering facts based around the way in which Western society has expanded its methods of consumption on a global scale. For example,
“on average, 100, 000, 000 tones of waste is dumped into Britain’s landfills every year.”
Statistically, that works out at each Briton discarding their own body weight in rubbish every 7 weeks into our 12, 000 landfill sites. This research opened my eyes to the scale at which we are all using our natural resources and producing potentially harmful waste. A digital version of my ‘Reflective Journal’, has allowed me to use a very physically sustainable method of documenting my work, as I have used no ink, paper or binding methods to present my journal as it can all be easily read digitally. While I could not avoid using electricity for my laptop, I feel that my digital reflective journal communicates just as clearly as it would in a physical form.
There are many issues involved with graphic design that may require the questioning of ethics. One of my interview questions for the ‘Graphic Communication’ degree course from lecturer Kevin Edge required me to consider if I would produce work for a company that knowingly tests their products on animals. Personally, I feel that I would not be able to contribute to such a company knowing that they are involved with something I object to morally. This same attitude can be had with the topic of sustainability. Would you work for a company knowing it was having an immensely negative effect on the environment? It can be easy to “plead ignorance” to the topic of sustainability, yet by making ourselves aware of more eco-friendly and reusable ways to work and design we can lessen our physical impact on the world around us without compromising our creativity.