5 Green Questions you should ask before choosing a printer.

With the “green” fever on the rise, designer and their clients can’t help but wonder: “Can we print
in a sustainable way?” The answer is yes.
Unfortunately, there are no industry-wide standards outlining what a “Green Printer” should be.
So it is up to you to take time to educate yourself and to figure out what to ask from your printer
and designer.
1. Are you FSC certified?
Being FSC certified shows that the company is complying with the highest social and environmental standards on the market.
FSC or Forest Stewardship Council is a non-profit organization devoted to encouraging the responsible management of the world’s forests. Consumers wishing to support healthy forests and communities should look for the FSC label when purchasing wood and paper products and ask the companies they work with to get FSC certified.
2. Are you tracking your carbon emissions?
Why is a carbon emission a problem? Carbon dioxide is one of the main contributors to the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse gas emissions are what causing climate change.
Beware, there is a new buzzwords floating around “Carbon Neutral.” Carbon neutral refers to neutral (meaning zero) total carbon emission, brought about by balancing the amount of carbon released with the amount subtracted. Various companies attempt to promote the use of this term as merely referring to carbon reduction, which is clearly not neutral.
3. Does your company generate hazardous waste?
If so, how is it disposed of?
Many materials that are used in an average pressroom are hazardous to human health and environment. And while lessening the production of such materials is desirable, proper handling is mandatory. One of such materials is Isopropyl Alcohol.
Isopropyl Alcohol has a known toxicity to humans and aquatic organisms, including carcinogenicity, reproductive and neurotoxicity. Whatever cannot be saved for recovery or recycling should be handled as hazardous waste and sent to a RCRA approved incinerator.
4. What inks and paper do you have available?
Lets face it, printing is all about ink on paper. Paper is made out of trees while some inks are toxic and require harsh solvents. It might be nearly impossible to completely avoid making an environmental impact when printing – but you can make your next project a little “greener” by choosing the right paper and ink.
Each year U.S. pulp mills consume 12,430 square miles of forests around the world, an area almost the size of the states of Massachusetts and Connecticut combined. So anything we can do to lessen the number of new trees having to be cut down is good.
All "green designers" should know to look for FSC logo and the level of post-consumer recycled content on paper they are purchasing, the higher the better. Look for PCF stamp, “process chlorine free” papers have been bleached with oxygen-based compounds instead of chlorine, which is toxic. You can help greatly reduce the use of toxic chemicals and solvents if you are willing to use soy or other vegetable inks.
5. This one is not a question.
Work with a designer who will work with your printer to make “green” choices. In a competitive market demand will drive the supply. As the demand for “green” practices raises, so will the number of business willing to obey them. Challenge your printer to become more environmentally conscious. As “green designers” we can bring about real changes.
If you are looking for an environmentally conscious designer, or have questions about “green” printing.
Please, do not hesitate to contact me.
Written by Annya A. Uslontseva, Seattle Graphic Designer
Contact: annya@auadesign.com