How to Make Eco-Friendly Decisions About Your Print Projects

When it comes time to select a printer, paper type, weight, and finish for your upcoming print project, consider the responsible, sustainable choices you can make. Have you thought about the overall impact that that box of business cards, set of posters, or product design will have on the environment?

  • Will it reduce waste or create it?
  • How many trees will be consumed in its production?
  • What pollutants will your single printed piece dump into the environment?

Plus, your clients and colleagues will surely think more highly of your company when they see that you’ve gone green in your printing process!

Just Start Somewhere

For many, just having a reliable relationship with a printer is enough. Sustainability isn’t a top priority as long as the job gets done correctly and on time.

The goal should be to make sustainability part of the printing process, rather than an add-on or an afterthought. 

In the recent webinar “Re-nourish – Sustainable Communication Design,” Gage Mitchell of Modern Species, a sustainable design studio in Seattle, defies the idea that switching to eco-friendly printing must be a daunting task:

Just think about reducing what you can. Pick your next project that you’re working on and do something, whether it’s just changing the paper or looking at the press sheet size or changing the project all together. Maybe it’s not a poster; maybe it’s an e-invite. That will inspire you to go further.

Planning the Project

Renourish’s Project Calculator shows you how the press sheet will be set up for your project. Why is this important when it comes to eco-friendly printing?

You might see that one printed piece will fall on the press sheet in  a way that will leave lots of excess paper, creating huge amounts of waste. By modifying the size of the piece a bit, you would use less paper—thereby saving money and production time, in addition to making a lesser impact on the environment.

Enlarge the image at right to see how the Project Calculator  indicates changes you can make to your project to maximize the press sheet.

Re-nourish Project Calculator

Eco-Friendly Local Printers

Most companies avoid switching printers or exploring sustainable printing options because of an existing relationship, time restraints, or cost.

Your favorite local printer might be cheap and fast, but are they committed to eco-friendly practices? Sometimes it’s just a matter of asking them what they can do so your project has less negative impact. You may be surprised at what they’re already doing. Most printers assume—sadly!—that clients want the cheapest, fastest solution, so they do not educate them as to how they might be printing more sustainably.

If you’re open to going 100% sustainable with your print projects, check out Renourish’s Printer Finder to locate local printers in your state who share those goals. Each printer has been vetted by Renourish for accuracy in their claims, so you can trust the results given from the tool.

Eco-Friendly Online Printers

Instead of sending print jobs to Vistaprint or Staples, check out When we received our first order from them, we were blown away by the quality of the pieces and the professionalism of the company.

They use 100% recycled paper made in the U.S. with minimum 30% post-consumer waste, and they are FSC, Green-e, and BAGB certified. They use soy- and vegetable-based inks and minimize chemical use in the platemaking and printing processes.

Eco-friendly printing raises some interesting questions about time and cost, which are the most compelling reasons people give for avoiding it. Do the benefits outweigh these things? Where do you fall on this issue?

Management consultant and brand strategist for small teams. Fan of dark tea, thick books, peace, and unity.

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