Does corporate social responsibility extend to graphic design?

Responsible banking, impact investing, responsible travel, carbon footprint, closed-loop, biodegradable, degradable, compostable… the dictionary of ‘green’ expands each year. And with many of our clients starting to track their performance against the UN SDGs we are left to wonder, what is our role in this discussion, as a graphic design studio?

Well we actually play a key role. Designers consider object permanence and provide recommendations to our clients every day on materials, paper, inks, celloglazing, plastics – even whether a publication or newsletter should be digital or printed/mailed. Noticed less direct mail? That’s in part to do with designers and marketers making a conscious effort to reduce reliance on paper and to find alternatives, even with an ageing population. We have diversified into improving accessibility for digital publications and websites for people with low vision, via tagging and VoiceOver.

In the world of pulp, designers were early advocates for paper that was accredited as FSC and PEFC certified – we were asking in our briefing documents whether clients wanted to print sustainability, years ago.

Our preference for sustainable printing, especially over the last ten years, has seen a substantial shift towards sustainably sourced paper (thanks to UPM paper for the graphic), so much so that it’s hard to get paper that’s anything but eco which is great! Where printing is necessary, designers can recommend digital printing over offset to reduce ink waste and water usage, advise clients to choose carbon balanced paper and select uncoated or unbleached stocks when quoting. Now that paper recycling has caught up with production we are now seeing an un-coupling of ‘production’ and ‘impact’ in the paper industry where more paper doesn’t mean more impact, as it once did.

Read this excerpt from the whitepaper by Greg and Cheryl Campbell “Responsible Design is the Apex Design Mode to create our sustainable future”:

“As an ever-evolving process, Responsible Design acknowledges great successes and failings of human activity, especially those challenges threatening our long-term survival. It thrives on concerted efforts by a range of stakeholders collaborating to solve a problem or devise the design of things from individual items to whole communities. It recognises no one industry or sector has achieved sustainability alone and not moving from ‘business as usual’ equates to disaster. The global imperative calls for a substantive rethink to better directed management of innovation.”

Greg and Cheryl Campbell

If you are searching for a Sydney-based graphic design agency (that is doing it’s best to be at the fore-front of responsible design) you can just ask us for a quick quote! Contact us today at Fresco Creative to talk with one of our experienced graphic designers.