In last month's rant... er, reasoned argument... I paraphrased a leading environmental consultant to the effect that the solutions to environmental problems are incredibly complex and that attempts to oversimplify them can lead to unpleasant, unintended consequences. My point and the consultant's is not that the creative class should fear going green — there is no going back, nor should there be. But we should ask hard questions, listen to nuanced experts, support realistic programs and, if you really want to persuade, lighten up on the sermons. This comment resonated. We received many letters to the editor, which we will publish in the February print edition of Graphic Design USA. Before leaving the point, I wanted to note a similar thought expressed in a new book by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility. Among their many provocative arguments about how to address the serious environmental challenges that confront us, the authors argue that extremist environmentalists, when frustrated by their inability to persuade people to give up things they need or enjoy (like jobs or cheap gasoline), quickly invoke doomsday narratives and treat the commoners as evil-doers, sinful and damnable. As satisfied as they feel, it has unintended consequences. "We know from extensive psychological research," write Nordhaus and Shellenberger, "that presenting frightening disaster scenarios provokes fatalism, paralysis and ... individualistic thoughts of adaptation, not empowerment, hope, creativity and collective action." We need less fatalism and more empowerment, less fantasy and more reality, less rhetoric and more action.
— Gordon Kaye, email@example.com
What It Is
Alexandria VA: What will the top color trends be in 2008? According to the Color Marketing Group, a leading association of color design pros, mounting concern over the shabby state of the environment is driving a trend toward green, or more natural, colors. "In 2008, looking stylish means looking natural," CMG spokespeople argue. "Materials will look handmade, un-dyed and unbleached." Turning from fashion, they predict that products "will look more like what they're actually made of, with lots of texture and the natural imperfections proudly showing through." The upshot? "Off-whites, sandy and linen-y colors, rock and soil colors, brownish greens — the colors of nature are seriously fashionable now." For more similarly keen insights, check out www.colormarketing.org.
An Inconvenient Booth
Rochester MN: Over the last year, green thinking spread across the exhibit business like a prairie fire, according to An Inconvenient Booth: The Economic Impact of the Green Movement on the Trade Show Industry, a new study commissioned by Exhibitor Magazine and executed by The Bloom Group. 2007 saw the debut of the first eco-friendly exhibit system, while two major trade groups, The Exhibit Designers and Producers Association and the International Association of Exhibitions and Events, both created green committees to explore environmental concerns and develop design and construction standards. Presently, 62 percent of exhibitors and 81 percent of suppliers claim an interest in green exhibiting options, 38 percent of exhibitors have "taken steps toward adopting" them, 43 percent of exhibit suppliers have "taken some initial steps toward providing" green choices and 22 percent have "made substantial progress" on that front, the study reports. Read more at www.exhibitorgreen.com.
Boomers Buy Green
New York NY: Green buying correlates with age, with baby boomers purchasing more eco-friendly products than younger consumers, according to a new study by Focalyst. The population of baby boomers who buy green products numbers 40 million, or 54 percent of the total Boomer population, and boomers with annual incomes below $50,000 exhibit higher rates of green purchasing than those with incomes above $150,000. (That's 57 percent compared to 50.) Focalyst is a joint project of AARP Services, a subsidiary of AARP, and Kantar, the research and consultancy unit of WWP. Take a look at www.focalyst.com.
Teaching by Example
New York NY: The children's publishing and media company Scholastic has undertaken a major new green initiative. The company set a five-year goal to increase its purchase of FSC certified paper for publications to 30 percent and its use of recycled paper to 25 percent, of which 75 percent will include post-consumer waste. Officials claim that the company's recycled paper usage will reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 23,988,000 pounds. In 2007, Scholastic purchased 95,000 tons of paper, of which 4 percent was FSC certified and 11 percent contained fiber from post-consumer waste. The first run of the U.S. edition of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which Scholastic published last July, was largely printed on FSC certified paper. It was the biggest purchase of FSC certified paper for use in the printing of a single book title.
SEGD Best Practices
Washington DC: Members of the Society of Environmental Graphic Design can now download the SEGD Green Paper: Best Practices, Strategies, and Scenarios for Sustainability in Environmental Graphic Design. The paper is the result of a collaborative inquiry by members of SEGD's Green Committee, a group of designers, fabricators and material manufacturers that includes Michael Santos of Nova Polymers, Naomi Pearson of Pentagram and Tom Horton of Gensler. It reviews such topics as the green revolution, key green issues for association members, sustainable rating systems, strategies for green environmental graphic design, the green audit and green resource guides. The SEGD Green Paper is latest addition to a long line of educational tools from SEGD. The effort was sponsored by ASI-Modulex with Nova Polymers, Dixie Graphics and Accent Signage Systems. Check it out at www.segd.org.
San Francisco CA: As of this writing, 43 design firms have signed on to The Designers Accord, a set of rules, principals and goals that aim to educate people about, and mitigate the effects of, the environmental impact of the design trade. A project of IDEO Practice Head Valerie Casey, The Designers Accord has initiated an industry-wide conversation about the environmental responsibilities of the designers individually and collectively. Sample proposals: "Undertake a program to educate your teams about designing sustainably." "Pledge to significantly reduce your firm's carbon/greenhouse gas footprint annually." "Rework client contracts to favor environmental responsible design and processes." Eventually, Casey and her comrades — including activist Paul Hawken, IDEO's Tim Brown, Core77's Allan Chochinov, o2NYC's Jen van der Meer and Marc Alt of Marc Alt + Partners — hope to have third-party verification of members' actions on the accord's protocols. For more info, see www.designersaccord.org.
February 9 - 12, Amelia Island Plantation,
Amelia Island, Florida (near Jacksonville)
Print Oasis is the premier conference focused on the needs and challenges of print buyers, creatives and marketers. The $699 per person early-bird rate—by January 15, 2008—includes a four-day educational conference with industry leaders featuring more than 30 seminars, Expo, Paper Show, special events and many meals! Don't miss our Sustainability Intensive addressing the issues to consider when creating environmentally sustainable print projects and the Marketing Track with sessions on how to repurpose your print campaign in cross-media. Book your hotel room now while rooms and discount rates are still available! For conference details and to register...
Designer of Green Exhibits
Wilton CT: Jeff Baker and his design firm, Image 4, were recently honored by Inc. Magazine as the World's Greenest Trade Show Exhibit Producer for the company's work at the Nexus Green Building Resource Center in Boston. For the project, Baker and company designed, created and installed environmentally-sensitive directional, instructional and wayfinding signage, as well as more than 40 brand-sponsor exhibits. The center, a project of The Green Roundtable, labors to promote green building techniques. After the Green Roundtable challenged Image 4 to refrain from using vinyl in their constructions, the designers upped the ante by sticking to recycled paper, hemp, FSC-certified wood and ink that does not contain volatile organic compounds. Additionally, the company employed a patent-pending process for printing water-based inks on recycled fabrics. Jeff Baker is the CEO of Image 4, a visual marketing and branding support organization, which he founded in 1987.
Cohoes NY: Claudine Schneider, former Rhode Island Congresswoman and longtime environmental activist, was recently appointed to the board of directors of Mohawk Fine Papers. While in Congress, Schneider authored the first Global Warming Prevention Act. She presently serves on the boards of the Wilder Hills New Energy Global Innovation Index, the American Solar Energy Society, The Climate Institute, The Center for Resource Solutions, the Tata Energy Research Institute and Green Advantage. She is also the president of the Sollar Alliance, a coalition of the world's largest solar manufacturers, installers and integrators. "Claudine's experience in public policy and in the area of renewable energy development will enhance our strategic planning, product development and corporate sustainability initiatives," said Thomas D. O'Connor, Jr., the chairman and CEO of Mohawk.
Christian Press of Winnipeg, Manitoba is the latest printer honored by Agfa Graphics with an Environmental Recognition Award. The program recognizes customers who promote environmental awareness both through inhouse programs and the effective use of 'green' prepress and printing technologies. Agfa's recognition program is a reflection of the company's ongoing commitement to the environment, most recently through its ThermoFuse™ CtP process which physically bonds images to plates without any chemical processing. Christian Press has been serving the printing industry in Manitoba, Canada for more than 50 years. The company, a not-for-profit, non-funded agency of the Canadian Conference of Menonite Brethren churches, seeks to be a strong working model of the benefits of environmentally-friendly policies. Ron Wood is general manager at Christian Press. In addition to using Agfa's chemistry-free :Azura plate, Christian Press recycles about 35 tons of waste each year and an additional ton of aluminium. They also do not use developer or fixer and whatever waste wash chemicals remain are held in an environmentally-sound waste barrel and sent to an environmental control company. In addition, the company only uses vegetable-based inks. In October, Agfa Graphics named Accell Graphics of Ontario an inaugural recipient of the Environmental Recognition award. Says Jack Baraczek, director of Agfa Graphics, Canada: "We are pleased to see that many of our customers are eagerly adopting 'greener' policies. It shows that they are thinking about future generations. We continue to do our part with product research and development, and valued customers like Christian Press and Accell are doing theirs."
Friend of the Earth
West Newton MA: Planetpals launched in 1998 as a kids-oriented environmental education website starring a cast of colorful and friendly cartoon characters with names like Earthman, H2O, Sunnyray and Greenbean. The games and stories on the website became so popular among kids, parents and teachers that Earthman and company were widely licensed for rollouts of green kids products and promotions. Now the Planetpals — the creation of graphic designer Judith Gorgone — recently hopped across the pond and entered the U.K. market. Now British kids can learn, for instance, what can be recycled, what can't and what happens to recycleable at the recycling plant. "There are approximately six million children aged 4 to 11 in Britain alone," explained Gorgone. "Parents are looking for more meaningful properties with positive messages for their children. We know Planetpals fits this need."
Walk the Walk
Washington DC: The American Institute of Architects (AIA) announced the launch of "Walk the Walk," a multifaceted campaign to educate, promote and encourage sustainable design among consumers, business owners and architects. This national communications campaign calls on architects, clients and the public to work together to create a greener footprint on the planet and includes advertising, online sustainability resource centers and GreenStep, a multi-part informational series detailing the benefits of utilizing sustainable design. GreenStep became available online at the end of last month. Additionally, the organization appointed a staff architect to focus exclusively on sustainable design, provide consumers and the media with valuable tips and resources on a variety of sustainable design topics and support the AIA's advocacy efforts for legislative and regulatory changes that will make all buildings carbon neutral by 2030.
New York NY: Eight companies are sporting new green-themed websites thanks to SiiTE Interactive. Lexus teamed up with children's publisher Scholastic on a SiiTE-created site that challenges American students to brainstorm ways to preserve and improve our land, water, air and climate. There are more than $1 million in prizes at stake. SiiTE also developed an interactive website entitled "Why Not?" for Toyota and helped the car manufacturer pose the question "Can a car company grow in harmony with the environment?" Next, Oprah's O Magazine and Sam's Club tapped SiiTE for a site about conservation tools that Sam's Club offered through the holidays, while Chevrolet and Popular Mechanics collaborated with SiiTE on web tool for popularizing E85 Ethanol, a clean fuel option that Chevy is incorporating into new vehicles. Finally, SiiTE's site for employees of the New Hearst Tower in New York City highlights the features, such as a rainwater-fed heating and cooling system, that earned the building Gold LEED certification for environmental responsibility.