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We can help save the planet! Ecological Design Thinking.

Last week I was working on a project for a client who is active in the ‘green’ sector, a nonprofit organisation. I was asked to make a packaging that would be ecologically responsible.

This project made me think. Can we, as graphic designers, give a positive turn to a world that is facing unprecedented changes?

This blog article will dive a bit deeper into the subject, ‘Ecological Design Thinking’. So if you are looking for new, greener and ecologically responsible design you should definitely keep reading.

We are at a point where our footprint is bigger than what nature has to offer us. As a result we are currently using all the reserves of our ecological system.

Icebergs melt, natural disasters are becoming more frequent, very hot summers and cold winters, … all signs that we are exceeding the limits of nature.

This causes more people to look for other ways and materials to create their products, their solutions.

But where to start?

What to do with printed materials?

During my research for ways to assist my client with his project, I’ve discovered a few things. We can use recycled paper or paper which used less chemicals for its production.

Yes, we speak of recycled paper, but this doesn’t mean that it is ‘bad quality’ paper. The paper is white, a bit less clear, but white!

So why wouldn’t we use it for several projects?

Why are we using so much plastic? It’s evil!

Another thing I also notice when I go shopping is the fact that many distributors make use of plastic. Why do we make so much use of plastics?

Plastic, the major culprit. Designed for a lifetime, so difficult to recycle. Do all these products really need to live a perpetual existence? Or do we just use plastic out of laziness? Because we don’t want to put time and effort into analysing the client’s needs, and to find out if there aren’t better solutions?

Why not make more use of biodegradable plastic, also known as bioplastic?

Bioplastics are plastics derived from renewable biomass sources, such as vegetable fats and oils, corn starch, … There are even bioplastics especially designed for food!

It is an excellent material for the production of different packaging.

What about Ecological Design Thinking?

A world that is facing unprecedented challenges needs radical new approaches to the way that we think about and apply the design.

We designers should invest more time into thinking about what we create, and the impact it has on nature. I believe that for every non-ecological project, there exists a more nature-friendly solution and we, as designers, must be aware of those solutions. We must direct our clients towards more nature-friendly ways to fulfil their needs.

So why wait? Now is as good a time as any to start shrinking our ecological footprints in our designs. In fact, the sooner we start doing this, the better!