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What is Sustainable Graphic Design?

Quote from Jane Goodall

Sustainability isn’t really the first or even the second thing that comes to our minds when we think about graphic design. We rarely think of graphic design as having anything to do with the environment. But it has.

Most businesses naturally think about their economic (profit) and social (people) sustainability. But true sustainability is only achieved when environmental (planet) sustainability plays an equal part. This correlation is referred to as The Triple Bottom Line.

While businesses increasingly focus on the impact their products and services have on the environment, very few take into consideration the impact of their brand.

This is where sustainable graphic design comes in.

Why do we need Sustainable Graphic Design?

Everyone, including graphic designers, has an impact on the planet because we all need resources for nearly everything we do. Sustainable graphic design takes that impact on the environment into consideration, from the beginning until the end.

To create a greener approach, we need to consider the impact our design will have on the world – on a social and environmental level. This includes the impact of materials, manufacturing, transportation, and disposal, but also the impact of design in the digital space.

Graphic design can either be on paper or digital. For each of these, there are different things to consider in order to make the design green.

The Triple Bottom Line Graphic


Linear Paper Supply Chain


Sustainable Print Design

Most businesses, individuals and designers don’t think about the environment when printing their business cards, leaflets, or other marketing materials. The priority is to make it look good. But we can still make amazing designs without compromising the earth. There are ways to reduce that impact and make printing more eco-friendly.

By looking at the type of paper, the usage of ink and finishing materials, as well as the manufacturing, transportation and disposal process, the environmental footprint of a printed product can be lowered – without compromising on design or quality.

Sustainable Website Design

You might think that everything digital like a website is eco-friendly. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Most aspects of the digital world require energy – the manufacturing of digital gadgets, the servers, the powering of smartphone and laptops, sending emails, cloud services, and more.

Did you know that if the internet was a country, it would be the 6th biggest emitter of carbon?

Every time someone clicks on your website, it increases its carbon footprint. That’s why it’s important to ensure that it has a minimal impact on the environment.

Improving user experience, keeping content up to date or making tweaks to the design of your website are only a few examples of ways to reduce your environmental footprint.

CO2 Emission of the Internet (2018)


Feeling overwhelmed?

The good news is, there are many ways to do better – without compromising on look, quality or cost. And I’m here to help!

By identifying achievable steps and affordable alternatives, we’ll align your brand with your sustainable business practices. Because it’s not about being perfect, it’s about doing better.


Curious about sustainable graphic design? Let's have a chat about any projects you're thinking of, your ideas and requirements, or how we can apply the principles of sustainable graphic design to your existing brand, website or print collateral – no matter if you're local to Tauranga or the Bay of Plenty, from somewhere else in New Zealand or even overseas.