Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Green printing tip no. 19: How can graphic designers make a difference and green up your printing jobs?

We have another tip for you on our weekly series of green printing tips, where we bring you information on green printing in collaboration with Greg Barber, an experienced eco-friendly printer.

Graphic designers are going green everywhere - last August, for example, we posted here that
the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada adopted sustainability principles.Today Greg is talking about the role of graphic designers in green printing.

How can graphic designers make a difference and green up your printing jobs?

Tip #19

Lately I have had graphic designers come to me "before" they design their next projects. I like that. If you want to print an environmental brochure, or you have any other printing job you want to do in an environmentally sound manner, you need to plan it correctly.

Here are the questions you and your designer need to go over:

1. The size of the brochure
You want to eliminate paper waste. Most paper comes in increments of 8.5 x 11 or 9 x 12. Designing a brochure to be 7 x 10 may look good, but you will be wasting 1.5 x 1 inches of paper for each 8.5 x 11 sheet needed for your brochure. Figure in bleed. Printers need 1/8" bleed on all 4 sides. If the bleed size is now 8.75 x 11.25, you are still OK. If the bleed size is 9.25 x 12.25, you have exceeded the multiples of 9 x 12.

In the first example, a printer can take paper from a standard mill size 25 x 38 inches. In the second example, there will be a lot of waste paper. There is no slightly larger size paper than 25 x 38.

2. Inks to use
Metallic and florescent inks are not environmental. Try to design your brochure using standard pantone colors, and not metallics. The designer should request soy or vegetable based inks. If the job is digital, the designer should request 100% non toxic toner.

3. Type of paper (brand)
Hopefully, your designer is up to date on the environmental papers. Ask your designer if they know the definition of recycled paper, the definition of chlorine free paper, and what is post-consumer waste, etc. If the designer is not up on these terms, please have that person call me.

The biggest problem I see in environmental printing is lack of knowledge in paper. Some people think an FSC certified paper is terrific. It might not be. FSC primarily is protecting the forests, which is good. But, you also want to protect the streams and waterways leading away from the paper mills. FSC paper that is also 100% Processed Chlorine Free, will avoid having Dioxins being dumped in those precious waterways. Dioxin is an extremely toxic chemical that can cause cancer to fish, wildlife and eventually us.

FSC paper that is also 100% post-consumer waste recycled (100% PCW), will eliminate the printed waste from going to our over crowded landfills and incinerator plants.

4. Foils and Engraving
These items can make your job look great, but are harmful to the environment. If you need to use a foil, try to keep the size(s) to a minimum. Somtimes, a blind emboss, instead of a foil emboss, is just as effective, and does not present an environmental issue.

If you have any further questions about today's tip, please email me at

Also, if you have any questions you would like us to address in future tips please email us to .

Latest tips:

Green Printing Tip #18 - What is rock paper and why is it considered a green paper?

Green Printing Tip #17 - How do you save money on your next printing job?

Green Printing Tip #16 - Can green printing be done on a rush basis?

You can find links to all the tips we published so far on our green printing tips page, which is part of our green printing tools & resources.

You can also find further valuable information on Greg Barber Company's website -

Raz @ Eco-Libris

Eco-Libris: promoting green printing!

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