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Stay Green by choosing the correct paper stock

Makin - Graphic Design advice

In graphic design we have to ensure that we select the correct paper stock for each project to stay “Green”.

The selection of the correct stock not ensures that the end result looks stunning but it also to ensures that we minimise the environmental impact as possible.

The processes of paper manufacture and printing can take a heavy toll on the environment if not managed correctly so it is important to us as designers to select paper and processes that have a minimal effect on the world around us. While it is often tempting to use one of the many inexpensive online printing firms it often has a sting in the tail for the environment as many use substrates that have poor environmental credentials.

So how do you ensure that you select the right “green” paper?

I tend to follow a simple set of considerations when selecting paper stock and I have listed them below as a guide for other creatives looking to find the right paper stock.

Smart graphic design

When designing your project, think about how you can minimise its impact by researching the recycled or recyclable paper stocks available to you and carefully consider which will be best suited to your project.

Look carefully at the printing and finishing processes involved and assess how much waste is generated with each.

Make sure that the minimal amount of non-recyclable material, finishes (laminates, foils etc) and binding are included in its design. While these will make you print work “pop” it also can have a drastic effect on how recyclable your project will be at the end of its life.

When designing packaging, consider whether of not you really need to use premium materials in areas of the packaging that will not be seen or will be disposed of straight away by the end user and instead opt for board or paper that is more eco-friendly.

These considerations will not only reduce the eco-impact but will also reduce your production costs as well.

Do your homework

Look for paper that has been produced from wood and pulp that has been sourced from sustainably managed forests and woodlands and make sure that you consider the carbon footprint if sourcing stock from international suppliers.

Source paper that has been certified by a recognised scheme such as the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) – – The FSC is an international, non-governmental organisation which runs a global forest certification system with two key components: Forest Management and Chain of Custody certification.

This system allows consumers to identify, purchase and use timber and forest products produced from well-managed forests.

Communication is essential

Reach out to your paper or printing company representative. Talk with them about the project, it’s purpose, what paper you are thinking of using and then ask for suggestions on what stock they would suggest for the project. They may be able to point you towards stocks and processes that you may not of considered.
Make sure that they have a certified environmental management system in place and ask how this affects the production of the material.

Making it easy to be green

Through following these simple guidelines, we can all help to minimise the environmental impact of the print work we design for clients.

If you have a question about how to select the correct paper stock for your print project or have a suggestion for something that should also be considered then please feel free to drop me a line.

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