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January 13, 2012 | Eric Benson  |  Share

Why do We Need Standards?

Author and activist Paul Hawken argues that our natural resources are “the foundation of our economy.”  Without our water, timber, air and land our economy would cease to function.  Communication designers must realize the importance of designing with people and the environment top of mind. They can do so by minimizing their waste of our natural resources like water and trees and reduce CO2 emissions through choosing recycled materials, and by working with vendors also committed to the same cause. As this movement grows it is important to make sure that the communication design profession collectively selects the most logical sustainable path to maintain our planet and our craft. This means setting guidelines for growth in our industry and accepting responsibility in regards to our people and planet. 

Recent acceptance of the green movement into corporate America has also led to “greenwashing”, where misleading or false claims of environmental friendliness have confused consumers and have not helped the sustainable industry or planet. To combat this issue, Terrachoice created the Seven Sins of Greenwashing and disseminated them to the public. However, these guidelines are not specific enough to provide concrete steps for the graphic designer to follow to truly design in a sustainable manner. The Re-nourish Sustainable Standards are an attempt to clarify the issues and provide a comprehensive system of providing sustainable accreditation to print (packaging and environmental) and digital design projects as well as studios and printers.

The Re-nourish Sustainable Design Standards

What makes a printed or digital project sustainable? How can one tell on first glance without transparency? As more and more greenwashing is entering our marketplace, it is important that we help our clients and each other understand sustainable design principles. The Re-nourish Sustainable Standards are not a certification, but instead a logical set of tiered benchmarks for continued improvement towards a more sustainable economy and future. With this assurance that specific design criteria have been met and verified, designers now have the power to demonstrate their sustainability efforts, facilitating the implementation of sustainable design practices throughout the industry.

The Re-nourish Sustainable Design Standards (for projects) are divided into three sections: Print (includes packaging and environmental), and Digital. The Standards require that prior to the launch of any design project, that the constituents involved spend time deliberating a larger systems thinking approach to a solution.

The Re-nourish Sustainable Standards for print and digital is further divided into three tiers: one, two and three. Tier One is the premiere level of achievement and should be sought as the ideal for every print, packaging, or digital project. Tier Two and Three are stepping stones towards a more sustainable designed project that allow Re-nourish to publicly acknowledge those who are moving closer to a sustainable model and encouraging those who haven’t begun the process to start today. 

The Re-nourish Sustainable Design Standards can be found here.

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About the Blog
The Re-nourish Blog is a showcase of our work and research, and serves as a place to explore what's going on in the world of sustainable design. Here, you'll see what we're working on in our studio, and learn about what other sustainable designers are doing.

 

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