There is nothing more attractive to us as beautiful printed designs, be it in the form of classic pieces like books, magazines and cards or more innovative (and mind-blowing) printing techniques. In the back of our minds though is always our impact on the environment. As designers we are partly responsible for a lot of paper consumption, often ending up as straight wastage.

Becoming part of the solution

Early on in setting up Etikette Branding & Design, I made the decision to develop an important goal for the business in the area of Research & Development. I want to make sure that we bring sustainable practices to the ‘front’ of our minds by not only promoting them but by looking to improve current practices in our own industry.

As a start in this direction, I endeavoured to do two things:

  1. Try to print our own stationary using sustainable processes
  2. Start finding client who are in the Sustainable and Ethical space in order to support them (and with the idea in mind that they will be more inclined to working on sustainable design with us)

A journey with highs and lows

I did find a wonderful new client and friend in Whollygrail – led by the delightful Danielle Butler – another eco-warrior. We instantly connected and Etikette pulled its resources and expertise together in order to assist Whollygrail. You can read more about our work with Whollygrail here.

My journey into getting our first eco-friendly business cards was a great eye-opener in the context of my new mission for Etikette. I had some disappointments as well as great hopes along the way. I ended up with a product that is not quite what I had envisioned but that has turned into somewhat of a blessing in disguise for my vision.

I found a few printers, as I had hoped, who focused on sustainable processes, using recycled stocks and vegetable inks in some cases. I did ask for some quotes but have to admit that my usual printer has an unequalled level of service (and friendliness) that I find hard to put aside. I eventually ordered the cards from him using his most eco-friendly stock: 100% recycled Ecostar.

Etikette’s new monochrome business cards – printed on 100% recycled stock

There is always opportunity in a challenge

The biggest disappointment – and I what I also describe as a blessing in disguise – was in the confirmation that only a certain thickness can be obtained with recycled stock and that no effects can be applied to the paper (i.e. embossing, Spot UV, Foil). I was convinced that, with all the interest in the sustainable concept in recent years, more compromises would be available. Maybe I haven’t looked far enough yet but what I had envisioned certainly isn’t easy to find… if it does exist.

The blessing in disguise is that Etikette gets to put its brains towards figuring out how we can solve this problem. I am very keen and will need to find printer partners who would like to work in the same frame of mind: thinking about how we can use and improve what is currently available to bring more businesses to use sustainable practices in design and printing.

If you are part of a printing business and are interested please get in touch!