• Ways To Print an Eco-Friendly Catalog

    Environment, Communication Design

    Catalog printing may be losing some steam from the Internet, but many large companies are still printing them. And those companies are turning green. Nordstrom was the first among the fashion specialty retail companies to print their catalogs on Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper stock, with 30 percent post-consumer waste (PCW). As Erik Nordstrom, president of stores for Nordstrom said, “We know our customers care about the environment and this is an effort to serve them better and reduce our impact. We will continue to look for ways we can be a better corporate citizen.”

    Printing an eco-friendly catalog doesn’t mean just printing on recycled paper, although that definitely is one of the main “green” factors. And, green catalog printing doesn’t have to cost more money, what with printing companies (especially online printing companies) buying recycled paper and vegetable-based inks at a discounted bulk rate.

    Read on ways to make the whole catalog printing process more green.


    Adopt an eco-friendly lighting system in the printing facility. Installing sky lights and using CFL light bulbs can help reduce the amount of energy used in the printing facility. Turning off all lights (or most lights) when the facility is closed down for the night will also save much energy.

    Use vegetable-based inks. Veggie-based ink is good for the environment because it is a renewable resource and it greatly reduces the amount of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) released in the air during the printing process. VOCs are thought to cause cancer and are known to cause breathing problems in humans.

    Use FSC- or SFI-certified paper recycled paper and recycle all paper waste produced during production. The Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) are two of the largest certification programs in the world. They both promote environmentally responsible forestry measures to source paper.

    Using recycled paper made of 100% post-consumer waste (PCW) is considered the gold standard of recycled paper, but even using a paper with smaller amount of PCW, like 30%, still helps the environment. The FSC now uses a Mixed Sources label instead of the old percentages label to show that the paper is at least partly PCW. Victoria’s Secret’s catalogs are among the largest with this Mixed Sources label.


    Put more photos on one page. Instead of featuring four products per page, make the photos smaller, as well as the font, and fit six or eight products per page. You can cut down the size of your catalog and therefore save tons of paper by printing an 84-page catalog versus a 100-page catalog.

    Use smaller margins and smaller font. White space does look nice, but when you look at your layout, could you cut just 1/8-inch or maybe even 1/4-inch from the white space? By filling that space with text and photos, you could possibly fit more products per page.

    Don’t design for unique-sized sheets of paper. If you want a catalog that measures 8x10 instead of the standard 8.5x11, most printers will print your catalog on the 8.5x11 sheets of paper and trim off the excess. This produces so much paper waste. Although this waste can be recycled, it’s easier and less time-consuming (meaning more energy efficient) if you just design for common sizes of paper to begin with.

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