I believe as humans, we have a natural tendency to try and justify what we do or make ourselves feel better about what we do. I think as designers, we're probably struggling to do this everyday. This feeling might arise in us when having a conversation at a dinner party when you're standing in a group of people talking about what you all do for a living or are studying.
Guest #1: "I'm studying the effects of global warming on coastal farming communities in Central America."
Guest #2: "I'm in medschool. What do you do?"
You: "Im a graphic designer."
Guest #2: "Oh wow, that sounds fun!"
Fun...well yes, what we do is incredibly fun, but is also can have a positive impact on the rest of the world. Right?
Yes, I believe it can! We yeild the power and the outlet to convey positive or influencial messages to the public and promote causes and individuals who are striving for good. And yes, we can do our part to promote environmentally responsible practices and cut down pollution!..but unless we get hired by the EPA to promote clean air acts, how do we do this?
This brings us back to my original point that "we're always trying to make ourselves feel better about what we do." Since we're graphic designers who work in a lot of print, we probably feel bad about the amount of paper we use and end up wasting in the process. What's the solution to this bad feeling? Start using recycled paper! Instantly we feel better, but do we really know that recycled paper is that much better for the environment? According to the National Association of Paper Merchants,"There can be no definitive statement on which uses more energy because each forest, producer, vehicle, mill and so on will have its own way of working, and the different types of energy-use also have different environmental impacts. Broadly the reprocessed fibre in recycled grades is more efficient in energy terms."So maybe, it's a better decision, but maybe recycled paper isn't in that particular case. What do we do?
I think in order to truly make the right decisions when it comes to what we do sustainably as designers, we need to do the research rather than just accept the hype, even if it's just sitting there right in front of us, waiting to make us feel better. I think we can also spread this influence when working commercially by encouraging tthe compaines or firms we're working with to put an equal amount of thought into what they do rather than just printing "eco-friendly" on a product that deep down, might not be.