Where design meets sustainability: How to become a more mindful illustrator

We willen je graag voorstellen aan noissue. Een sympathiek drukbedrijf waar je prachtige verpakkingsmaterialen kunt bestellen. Milieuvriendelijk tissue papier, goede tape of stevige enveloppen. Duurzaamheid is een belangrijk punt op de – ongetwijfeld good-looking- agenda van noissue.
In dit artikel delen ze hun kennis, ervaring en tips over duurzaam ondernemen voor creatieve ondernemers. We krijgen nog een cadeautje van noissue: de lezers van de Gumclub krijgen korting op een bestelling. Met een kortingscode. Die sturen we je toe als je een mailtje stuurt naar hallo@gumclub.nl.
So hip hip hurray for noissue!


Compostable mailer being used by @lee.s_needlescrochet

Sustainability is a trending topic of conversation in 2021, and it will continue to stay that way for some time due to the scale of the problems the world is up against. This year, humans are using as much ecological resources as if we lived on 1.6 Earths. If we continue at this rate, there will be dangerous consequences for our environment and for society as a whole. The responsibility falls on all of us – from large corporations, to creatives running their own practices – to be more mindful of our choices in business.
If you haven’t considered how you can make a difference in your profession, then now is the time to start. As an illustrator, great design doesn’t have to be sacrificed for sustainability: the two can go hand-in-hand. You have the ability to use design for environmental change through the processes you follow, the materials you select and the values you share with your customers.

Reusable organic cotton tote bag designed by @naomipwilkinson

Take noissue as an example. As a sustainable packaging company, we’ve made a conscious choice to use inks and materials that are the least impactful on the environment. We also plant a tree for every order a member of our Eco-Alliance makes, which helps offset the paper materials we use for our products.
The designers that make up our Creative Community are also passionate about improving their processes. This is reflected not only in their choice to use our sustainable packaging materials but in their thoughtfulness when it comes to their processes, their discussions with clients and the values they communicate with their audience.

I believe that designers have an important, and maybe underestimated, role in promoting sustainability. I encourage you to keep the planet in mind when taking on new projects and help your clients land on eco-friendly alternatives, wherever possible.

Mara Rodríguez Design founder Mara Rodríguez

Giada Tamborrino Studio founder Giada Tamborrino agrees, saying: “I believe it’s the everyday actions that have the most impact on our lives. From what we look at, to the things that surround us and, even more importantly, what we leave behind on this earth. The choices we make leave a mark. I believe we should make those choices beautiful and sustainable, and I inspire brands to do the same in the best way I know how — through elegant design and thoughtful packaging.”

Unsure where to start becoming more sustainable by design? Here are five ideas to green your practices that include simple changes, as well as longer-term goals, to work towards.

Always opt for the digital option (avoid printing where possible)

When it comes to workflow, design can be quite a waste-heavy profession. This includes using many sheets of paper to sketch, visualise and present ideas, to printing out different iterations of your illustrations throughout the design process to show your client or team a tangible copy.
One easy way to become more sustainable in your profession is to work on reducing this number by monitoring how often you’re sketching or printing different versions and seeing what can be replaced with a digital option. If it’s necessary for your creative process to go through lots of paper, there’s always the option to use recycled paper, or to print designs to be double sided. Little decisions can go a long way, so be mindful of how much paper you’re tracking through.

When you do print, use eco-friendly inks

Petroleum or oil-based inks derived from fossil fuels were previously the go-to choice in design. This is despite these types of inks being destructive to the environment to source and containing chemicals that aren’t great for people to inhale.
Luckily, illustrators now can make the conscious choice to use products that print with ink that’s environmentally friendly, like soy or algae-based ink. Soy-based ink uses a 100 percent renewable source (soybean oil) and also has the added bonus of making colors more vibrant – a big win for sustainability, and design. It’s also biodegradable, which means when it’s used with a compostable product such as tissue paper, the entire product can break down into the soil without any hazardous chemicals being leached out in the process.



Soy-based ink in action on custom tissue paper 1. @lucyinneswilliams 2. @bijoukarman

Opt for FSC-certified products for any paper products

If you’re using paper-based products in your practice, it pays to pick ones that are ethically sourced. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) provides an independent certification that confirms that a product is made using wood pulp that’s been harvested in a social and environmentally responsible way, from the forest through to the supply chain. Often, FSC products also contain recycled materials, cutting down on the use of new wood pulp. FSC-certified packaging products illustrators can use can include water-activated tape, insert cards, tissue paper, and Kraft mailers.

1. FSC certified cards by @artofmaxinevee 2. FSC certified and water activated tape by @melissadonestudio

Look into recycled, reusable or regenerative packaging for shipping orders

Ecommerce orders are booming in 2021, which is great news for anyone with an online shop. However, according to Our World in Data, plastic packaging is the biggest contributor to plastic waste, contributing almost half of the global total. With sustainable shipping alternatives easily customisable and available in affordable low minimum order quantities (MOQs) there’s no reason for designers not to be opting for an option that’s less impactful on the environment.
Reusable organic cotton tote bags and Compostable or Kraft mailers all fit into a circular economy framework as they can either be reused by customers or are fully regenerative, returning to earth in a composting environment. Making a responsible choice has never looked so good!


Recyclable and compostable Kraft Mailers by 1. @oanabefort and 2. @arual.lhuillier

Green your home office or design practice

No matter where you do your work, there’s always ways to green up your design practice. If you’re at a home office or at a studio or office, consider using more energy efficient light bulbs, turning off electronics when not in use, reviewing your recycling and waste systems, and using reusable coffee cups and shopping bags. You could also look into implementing a composting system for fruit and vegetable scraps. There are mini-composting bins (like this one by Seed and Sprout) that can sit on top of a kitchen bench and only need to be emptied every one to two weeks – you’ll just need to research your city’s composting systems for when you do empty it.

Wrapping it up

We hope these ideas have inspired you to become a more sustainable creative! Becoming a more conscious designer takes a bit of practice, but building these habits soon becomes second nature. If you want to continue educating yourself, here are some great resources for designers:

Society for Responsible Design
Institute for Sustainable Communication
The Living Principles
Renourish (a project calculator)

Once you get some momentum going, you can start to take clients on this journey with you, too. Lead by example, share the changes you’ve been making and encourage them to give them a try. Let’s all work together to be a part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Elly Strang is digital editor at noissue. Do you need help creating custom eco-friendly packaging for your brand? noissue lets you design your own branded tissue paper, stickers, and tapes. Simply upload your design, logo, or illustration, and we’ll do the rest. Learn more about our personalizable packaging options here.

dit is een gesponsord artikel: wil je een kortingscode ontvangen voor je bestelling bij noissue? Stuur een mail naar: hallo@gumclub.nl en wij sturen je de code toe. Dit aanbod is geldig tot 1 juni 2021. We zijn natuurlijk ook heel benieuwd naar het resultaat en delen het graag op instagram!

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