Being environmentally friendly is the hottest motto these days, we can all see that. There is no longer any point in turning a blind eye to rising concerns like climate change, pollution control, species extinction and other crucial issues which are already starting to come back and haunt us. Consequently, it comes as no surprise that even in the publishing or marketing industry, practices such as poster printing are undertaken in support of the environment. Printed posters are produced in the millions and billions all over the world. This in turn translates to several million tons of paper and gallons of toxic ink that will eventually end up in waste dumps.
But just as a small act of irresponsibility can build up into one big dump of waste, so too can the little steps we take to support the environment build up and make a big difference in saving the planet.
Here is a simple step-by-step guide to design and print eco-friendly posters.
Browse successful eco-friendly posters. The first thing to do is research or gather information about successful eco-friendly posters. They are easily accessible from the Internet. This research will help get information in terms of each poster's design concept, materials used and overall purpose of the poster's campaign. Most of these eco-friendly posters are printed on recycled materials and so printing them in bulk doesn't hurt as much compared to printing normal promotional posters. The point of learning about other eco-posters is so that you have a general idea on how they are different from normal posters. Look at their advantages as well as their restrictions in terms of quality and design.
Look for green printers that offer eco-solutions in publishing. The next step in making eco-friendly posters is looking for a “green printer”. Not all full service commercial printers offer eco-friendly solutions in printing so watch out. Only a select number have been offering environmentally-friendly printing solutions.
Chances are you may have limited options locally, so it's better to go on the Internet and see if there are printing companies that offer poster printing services with eco-friendly options. There is a good number of commercial printers who have turned over to the green side and are now printing on chlorine-free, SFI/FSC certified paper or 100% recycled paper and vegetable or soy-based inks. Aside from the materials being used, some printing companies have also improved their production process to be more efficient in the use of ink and paper resulting in lower wastage and a lower negative impact on the environment.
Adapt your design for the environment. Poster designs are often wildly colorful and are printed in glossy or cover stock. In light of the eco-movement, you may have to sacrifice a few aspects of the norm. Some color inks for posters can be toxic to the environment so you might consider toning down the color requirement of your design or simply go with black and white. Knowing the material limitations you have to work with when designing posters may sound like a challenge but it also can be a great advantage since it will save you the time of adjusting your design to accommodate these restrictions later.
Choose which kind of “eco” paper is best for your poster. In terms of poster paper, you only have a few green choices. The first and the most obvious is to go with printers using 100% recycled paper. Doing this basically makes your poster absolutely environmentally friendly for obvious reasons. A downside with recycled paper, however, is that there might be some loss in quality and clarity.
Another option that might sound more favorable to you is the use of "hybrid" papers. This kind of paper is a mix of recycled and non-recycled paper. These provide better print quality and clarity. Of course it is not as eco-friendly as the 100% recycled ones but a little thing like this can amount to a lot in the long run.
Finally, you also have the option to print posters with paper from sustainable forests. Sustainable forests are “forest farms” where fast growing trees are continually cut down and regrown. Using this type of paper provides us with the peace of mind that for every tree cut down, a new one takes its place.
Allow for non-toxic inks. Aside from paper considerations, there's also the question of what kind of ink your poster will be printed with. For an eco-friendly poster, you need to find out if your printer uses organic or vegetable inks. These are non-toxic inks that are fully biodegradable and safe for the environment.
Produce only what is needed. Lastly, as a finishing note in printing posters, we talk about the production quantity. Do not be greedy and print posters just because you have the budget. The best way to support the environment is to take only what you really need and give back when and what you can. Printing too many posters can leave you with a huge amount of surplus and, let's face it, unlike notepads, your posters aren't much use to you after two months or so and will, at that point, be pretty much garbage. Be wise and print only the amount of posters you need.
Those are the simple steps in printing posters the green way. Encourage others to do the same! If we all do this together, every small act will eventually amount to a very significant step in saving our planet.