Sustainability in Design

Which is greener? A digital or printed work. I was of the understanding that digital was greener than paper, however after researching various sites, this supposition has been challenged.. According to an article in, the answer lies with who’s being asked; ‘Talk to a paper manufacturer and he will certainly support printed communications as much more sustainable. Ask the CEO of a web hosting company

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and she will make the case for digital work’.

In another article in, they also suggest print has been ‘cast in the role of a dark old devil in decline’ and ‘digital media has been cast as the bright young saviour on the rise’. They suggest print has incredible potential to be a far more sustainable medium than it is today and is already based on comparatively renewable materials.

As well as being the single largest stream of toxic waste created by man, accordingly to zdnet, making a computer typically requires mining and refining of minerals and metals as well as large scale use of plastics and hydrocarbon solvents. To function, electronic devices require a constant flow of electrons that come from the combustion of coal.

The list goes on and on… so, the question is what can we do to reduce our carbon footprint. The ultimate aim of practicing sustainable design would be to reduce waste, use as little resources as possible, and the resources that are used, should be unharmful to our environment and re-usable.

How do we turn over a new leaf and remodel our thinking to incorporate papers, inks, solvents, packaging, waste management or recycling in new and different ways?

Perhaps we can convert our electricity to green power, chose chlorine free paper sources from ethical companies and perhaps with effective communication and by exploring and offering eco-options we could contribute to a reducing environmental impacts. Australia using green printers





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