Greener Print Through Design

While we’re collecting and researching products made from various wastestreams for our upcoming exhibition at the Green Depot, we’re also thinking about greening the printing process, thanks to Eugene Lee of Rolling Press. While going paperless is often a green ideal, it’s not always possible. When you need to print, whether it’s brochures or business […]

While we’re collecting and researching products made from various wastestreams for our upcoming exhibition at the Green Depot, we’re also thinking about greening the printing process, thanks to Eugene Lee of Rolling Press.

While going paperless is often a green ideal, it’s not always possible. When you need to print, whether it’s brochures or business cards, conventional green wisdom says to use recycled or FSC-certified papers and vegetable-based inks. But those are just the basics. Like bringing your own bags to the grocery store, we’ve heard this over and over again. What else can you do?

After touring Rolling Press yesterday, a sustainable printing press located in Brooklyn, we learned from Eugene that green printing can (and should) begin long before the presses start rolling. While Eugene and the Rolling Press crew have pioneered ways to make the actual printing process more environmentally friendly—from recycling their aluminum printing plates and test sheets that don’t meet their rigorous quality standards to utilizing smaller machinery and powering their press with wind power—they also advocate greening their clients’ design process (their past clients include Whole Foods, the Sundance Channel and 826NYC).

But how do you green the design of print materials? According to Eugene, the more areas of solid color on a page, the less green it is. First, it uses more ink, which isn’t good for obvious reasons. But second, large areas of a single color are fickle; it’s hard to get the color even. Any flaws or disruption of the color are easily identifiable, more so than in an image with its complex constellation of colors. This means that far more pages are scrapped for quality control, which means more waste. It also means purchasing more paper and that jobs take longer to complete. So it’s not only more wasteful, it’s most expensive as well.

Eliminating or limiting large areas of solid color is a simple way that designers can green their designs. Instead of a black page with white writing, opt for a more environmentally friendly white page with black writing. Eugene offers many more green design tips at Brooklyn Green Drinks, which he helps to organize.


Rolling Press

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