Sustainability in Digital Design — Sonder Marketing

Web Design

In web design we can take a number of steps to reduce our footprint. There are a heap of data and file storage considerations as well as how we use computers — which we’ll get to a bit later — and then there’s printing and even colour considerations to keep in mind.

Graphic design

A lot of the points under web design apply for graphic designers as well. But they do have their own unique set of issues. Graphic designers create a lot of print media assets so ink usage, printing, and the products themselves have environmental implications. Think posters and flyers, more white space would significantly reduce the energy consumption from the printer as well as ink consumption. When taking steps to reduce ink usage though, it’s important to think about whether more paper will be needed if you’re upping that white space.

Paper

If you still own a filing cabinet… why? Okay, we know why, but we should all be pushing towards electronic everything. Contracts and proposals can be digital, we can email, and any file or document can be stored online.

Printing

Printing can be super wasteful and crazy bad on the environment. We’ve talked about the paper side of things and we’ve only really touched on ink. Normal ink contains heavy toxic metals which pose major health risks for us, but even worse, risks for the environment. There’s a tonne of ink wastage in printing from colour changes, cleaning of the printer, and general poor ink management. Using a soy or vegetable based ink can improve your environmental footprint.

Office energy

Offices gulp up energy. There are air conditioners, computers, phones, iPads, televisions. There are steps you can take to reduce your office’s energy consumption. Turn computers off overnight, put them to sleep at lunch, don’t use a TV to show a motionless image, and keep your air conditioner at 25 degrees. If you’re in the position to, consider using clean energy, even if it only covers 10% of your energy consumption it’s still helping.

Data storage

Data and file storage seemingly wouldn’t have an impact on the environment if you’re not keeping paper copies, but it does. There are design flaws in data storage and ways to optimise it. If you’re not backing up your data and files in a cloud system that’s a problem. Using hard drives and USBs to share information is outdated and a waste of money and plastic. Transferring your information to a cloud system is the best practice. Using Google Drive is ideal because they use 100% clean energy, utilising both solar and wind power. Google’s Environmental Report noted that research from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found if all offices in the US moved their email and documents to the cloud the IT energy use would be reduced by 87%. That’s apparently enough to power Los Angeles for one year.

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Sonder Marketing

Sonder Marketing

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We’re a small digital marketing agency specialising in web design.