What is sustainable design?

For the past few decades it has become increasingly clear that it is important to protect the earth and its resources. Sustainable design should be a way of life. There will always be an argument for and against packaging and printed matter but what we try to do as a design agency is act responsibly and try to apply sustainable design practices wherever we can. Carefully balencing consumer needs against the level of packaging required and how it will function throughout its lifecycle. As a design agency we have a certain responsibility to protecting the earth and sustaining its resources. This doesn’t make us tree huggers! We still have a love of packaging and printed matter but we feel if there is a good alternative solution, we should always give it serious consideration in an effort to reduce our carbon footprint. (Image via A Beany Blog)

Hands wrapped around a tree to signify tree hugging.

What are the Benefits of Sustainable Packaging?

Expensive and exotic packaging is a huge part of modern consumerism. Manufacturers know that many purchasing decisions we make are based on the attractiveness of good packaging. This means they are prepared to spend a lot of time and money creating eye-catching designs that will have better on-self appeal. However there is a heavy cost to this process. Although packaging is useful it does account for millions of tons of waste every year. Some of this is recycled but the majority of it does go straight to landfill.

What is the Future of Packaging?

As we become more aware of our impact on the environment, the high costs of packaging is becoming a major issue. A large number of consumers are now actively choosing the more eco-friendly alternatives when they shop by opting for packaging that can be recycled. This means that for manufacturers it is now more possible than ever to take a “greener” approach to packaging whilst still meeting their marketing objectives. The trend in sustainable packaging is rapidly growing year by year and spreading throughout the food, clothing and general goods markets. A recent packaging survey in an industry publication suggests that almost half of American consumers consider one or more sustainability factors when shopping for products in stores. Over 29% said that environmentally friendly packaging influenced the brands they bought, and 21% choose stores that carry a wide selection of products in sustainable packaging. So in simple terms, if 29% of consumers are more likely to buy your product as a direct result of adopting sustainable design practices, your chances of a sale have increased.

Damaged tomato

How are Flipflop Design Sustainable Designers?

By the nature of the world we live in, we cannot totally eradicate printed matter and product packaging. Lets not forget packaging plays an important part within society. The emphasis is always to reduce product packaging but take this example, a third of all food doesn’t actually make it to shelf due to damage also known as ‘shrinkage’. So if your tomatoes are not sufficiently packaged due to bad packaging design they become damaged in transit and not only add towards packaging waste but also add to the high percentage of consumer waste. Consumer waste in itself is a huge percentage far beyond that of package waste. The point is, there is a very strong argument for the benefits of effectively designed packaging and there is a careful balance between packaging which is effective or wasteful. As sustainable designers we have the expertise to educate and inform you of the best decisions. (Image via Schaefer)

How do we Adopt Sustainable Practices Throughout the Design Process?

Our sustainable design practices are not only applied to packaging design, although undoubtably this is the most obvious area. There are many ways in which we can address sustainability thoughout design. For instance, if you require a new brochure design, there are many factors other than just making sure your brochure is sustainably printed. One option could be to address ‘light-weighting’, a term conventionally used within packaging whereby we reduce the weight of materials used. Our designers apply ‘light-weighting’ to many different creative briefs, not just packaging and the knack is knowing when to use this effectively without reflecting negatively on the end product. Its not simply a matter of using a lighter weight paper but knowing for example, when to use this in conjuction with other materials or finishes. If the end result does not perform as it should and needs to be discarded, then it falls into the catagory of waste or ‘shrinkage’ which is the industry term. We also offer a number of eco friendly print solutions including: Products that are aligned to sustainability, digital printing for short-run projects, biodegradable products where possible, vegetable oil based inks, reduced energy consumption and waste in the production process. Flipflop Design offer an enviromentally friendly alternative to standard printing which, in most cases is actually cheaper than conventional printing without any compromise on quality.

Is it Possible to Apply Sustainable Design Practices to all Creative Briefs?

In essence yes, there are always options for improving a design to be more sustainable with a little thought and more often than not without extra cost.

 

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