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The BeGreen campaign is just one example of the incredibly forward moving society that we are all a part of. Taking ideas that stem from renewal of energy, reducing our waste, tracking carbon footprints and reusing materials to benefit the earth show us that there is power in marketing not only for products, but for causes. Check out how complete the website is here and you will understand the importance of a solidified brand and attitude when talking about issues. BeGreen is a movement that has begun to take over in all areas of the United States and now in the world. They are solidified by their strong visual presence and their creative marketing strategies.

Using our design backgrounds to empower people is not just persuasion at its best. Empowering is making a differnence and feeling great about it. It is seeing the results in the changing of activities. It is incredible how wonderful you can feel when you track your carbon footprint and you can see it going down. Empowerment is used in gaming, and this is something that isn't even close to new to consumers. Winning a game and getting positive feedback from a machine console is empowering to us. It is great to see that groups are using these techniques to empower individuals in a way that can change the planet for good.

I am no tree-hugging hippie of sorts, but this is a great way to become involved in change. Check out how they are offering positive feedback when individuals opt to make a difference

When discussing waste and the environment most everyone knows that we need to reduce our waste for future generations. However it is easier said then done of course. After reading some of the comments on my past blog posts I couldn't help but think about how a person's environment changes the way we use, and dispose of waste. I also thought about how a person's financial status would change the amount of waste each person produces.

I understand that I'm bringing financial into my environmental blog but I think both go hand in hand. Someone with more money might be able to buy materials that conserve the most and be best for the environment. With that said however it doesn't mean that people with lower means can't do anything for the environment. There are easy changes that everyone can change to, and although it sounds preachy I myself need to stick by these solutions as well. asks everyone to do there part by doing the little things, "like buying in bulk items that won't necessarily go bad, buy items that will stand the test of time, reuse items, borrow items to and from neighbors and friends, use reusable materials for everyday task like; tuberware when packing a lunch, reusable bags or old store bags at stores, keeping track of "paper-work" electronically, etc." These are ways that all people can do their part regardless of means.

However when buying organically or without the waste of big corporations is another task entirely. I believe that there is a difference between the spending habits of a stay at home mom or dad and a single person with a high income. Although both should be aware of what their buying and who they are buying from, however a mother may be pinching her pennies a bit more. Both are hypothetical but representations. It could go the other way too. A single man or woman barely making ends meet at their job and a soccer mom who has a husband who has an expendable income.

Often times, when one thinks of cost effectiveness and the environment, one thinks of how environmentalism and "going green" cuts into cost efficiency. In certain cases, this might be true, particularly when looking at the issue in terms of pure profits. Limiting your design options to those deemed "environmentally friendly" are often more expensive and more limited than their counterparts. Additionally, as one of our previous speakers mentioned, "green" products often don't work as well as those that are more detrimental to the environment. So if you're looking for the most cost efficient option and getting the most bang for your buck, then what's "green" often doesn't cut it. But have you ever considered the value of the environment? Sure, it may not have a set monetary value, but one could argue that the environment is priceless, and worth a bit more than the slightly higher costs of eco-friendly products. With that said, shouldn't we factor in the environment when determining the cost effectiveness of something?

In an article published by Newsweek, it was revealed that a project commissioned by the G8 collection of environmental ministers, labeled the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, was working to discover the dollar value of certain ecosystems. The results, in my mind, were pretty astounding:

"In one example, the plight of island communities dependent on fish protein and ecotourism can be measured. How? Researchers found that every hectare of coral reef--a modest area of land equal to just under two and a half acres--is worth more than $1 million annually.

...And in another example: it would cost $200 million to replicate the services provided by natural springs in New Zealand."

These are some pretty serious numbers, and it doesn't stop there. In a separate Newsweek article, it's stated that:

"For a keynote speaker at a conference on wilderness conservation, Pavan Sukhdev possessed a strange job title: banker. Sukhdev, a high-ranking executive of Deutsche Bank who helped build India's modern financial markets, had a fiscal message to deliver. The loss of forests is costing the global economy between $2.5 trillion and $4.5 trillion a year, he said. Many trillions more in costs arise from the loss of vegetation to filter water, bees to pollinate crops, microbes to break down toxins, and dozens of other 'ecosystem services.' "

It seems pretty apparent that the environment has a rather significant impact on our economy, but it's also pretty obvious that the human population hasn't been doing the best job taking care of it. So the next time you decide to print off 1,000 copies of that awesome gig poster you designed with 23 shades of green, stop for a second and consider what that means for the environment. From a short-term standpoint, the less environmentally friendly option will probably prove to be a bit more cost effective, but in the bigger picture, the "greener" option will probably work out best for the global economy as a whole.

In the end - and from a cost effectiveness standpoint - it's just not realistic to always be "green," particularly in our line of work. But at the very least, we should all try to factor in what's best for the environment when making decisions, both design and otherwise.

The Birds and the Bees

Environmental Economics

I've discovered that the notion of "fun" is an interesting concept in relation to design. Again, who has the fun...the designer or the client? Does the fun come when the designer is paid or is the design process fun? When researching fun and the environment, one company came to mind, IDEO. IDEO, as many of you already know, is a design and innovation consultancy based in Palo Alto, California. The company helps design products, services, environments, and digital experiences.

When looking at the environment, I believe the fun comes when the designer can brainstorm ideas on how to design environmentally friendly products. In Lucy's previous post, she talked about Pangea Organics and how IDEO created eco-friendly packaging for their products. The packaging was 100% compostable and biodegradable. That's awesome however there is no evidence that the process of creating the project was fun.

I'd like to look at a different project of IDEO's. For the many of you who were in Richelle's Factors of Human Perception class, you may remember this project. IDEO created a shopping cart for an episode of ABC's late-night news show Nightline. According to, "IDEO created a new shopping cart concept, considering issues such as maneuverability, shopping behavior, child safety, and maintenance cost" (1). This project, among many of IDEO's, has taken the environment into consideration. The design of their shopping cart, comparatively speaking, is sleek and uses much less material than the current cart we use today.


Although the overall design of the finished product is sleek, flexible, and unique, let's take a look at the process of creating this product. Again, I'd like to believe the fun comes during the brainstorming, trouble-shooting portion of creating the product. If you'd like, please take a look at the video showing the process of these carts being created. It's incredibly entertaining! The show concentrates on IDEO's creative process, recording as a multidisciplinary team brainstormed, prototyped, and gathered user feedback on a design that went from idea to a working appearance model in FOUR DAYS.

After viewing this, it opened my eyes to a whole new world of design...the process of designing a product can be fun! Wow, what a concept! The workers at IDEO were incredibly enthusiastic about creating this product and the results showed.

Describing the product:

"The nestable steel frame lacks sides and a bottom to deter theft (and is environmentally friendly!), and holds removable plastic baskets to increase shopper flexibility, help protect goods and provide a method to promote brand awareness. A dual child seat uses a swing-up tray for a play surface, and a hole provides a secure spot for a cup of coffee or a bunch of carnations" (1).

I may have steered away from environmentally friendly design concepts, but this project and process is amazing and worth talking about! The shopping cart was never used however Whole Foods has taken some suggestions into the consideration and has changed their shopping carts accordingly. Overall, this project was slightly environmentally friendly and the process was fun and innovative.

1.) "Shopping Cart Concept." IDEO, n.a. Web. 27 Apr. 2010.

2.) "Ideo Shopping Cart." Kirk, n.a. Web. 28 Apr. 2010.

Road Advertising

There you are on the road all buckled up, both hands on the wheel, cell phone set to vibrate or silent, your food is still warm next to you--you just need to get home. You keep checking all the mirrors of the car, very aware of the surrounding traffic, but something catches your eye. What is that? A half naked man... yeah he's half naked! What's he holding? A beer? Damn he's very sexy. Oh? His hand is moving--is he going to drink the bee---CRASH!!


We've all seen them: oversized, flashing, distracting, billboard advertisements conveniently placed on either side of the roads you're driving through. Sure, many of them are quite clever and ingenious, but is it really a good idea to have one more distraction to add to the many others while controlling a vehicle at high speed?

"Things are flashing, and you're trying to read every single sign," says a fellow driver, Skip Griswold. This is especially a problem at night when your vision is already limited as it is. Whether the billboard sign is just plain, or if it's flashing with lights, or if it's animated by video, or if the text changes after a few seconds, they're still practically making you take your eyes off the road.

As designers, we know that the more attention an ad grabs, the better the chance of people recalling it later on. Yes that is one technique. But not only as designers but as drivers as well, when should we just raise our palms and say stop? Designers should always be consciously aware that if they agree to design an ad for the roads, that it might result in accidents. And that's not even a false or exaggerated statement.

I remember previously reading one of Myhli's blog posts mentioning the hundreds of advertising children see each day (for us it's just as much.) Roads should not be one of them. Some advertising agencies claim the most amount of attention these ads grab is a second or two, and that "the fear is much ado about nothing." Others disagree. "It may not sound like much, but at high speeds, three-quarters of a second is a 'very long time.' At 100 kilometers an hour, in just one second, a car will travel 27 meters, which is over 90 feet." And that is plenty of time for someone to have slammed into a suddenly braking car.

Eco-Friendly Vs. Usability. Usability is the level of friendliness and ease of use of products and interfaces. Products should be easy to use, designed clearly, and fit the needs of the user. (1) Often companies design products without considering usability, and the users end up using only 5 percent of the features available to them, or the product ends up sitting at the store un-purchased.

(high powered grill = not so eco-friendly)

Considering the discussion we had in class the other day about adjustable office chairs. These crazy chairs with all they adjustable parts are made for people to create the perfect chair for their body-type and become more comfortable when sitting. But, because these chairs have so many different levers and knobs, the usability of the product becomes very difficult. Many people adjust one or two levers and leave the rest. This is where the 5 percent of the features are being used. Sure there are directions to be read on how to adjust the chairs, but a large percent of people don't read directions that come with products.

Now chairs are being invented where they are made from less material and give the support people need. Usability is being considered along with the environment. There are less materials being wasted in the production of the chair, the design is easy to use, while fitting the needs of the user.


The Aeron chair by Herman Miller is just that. It has broken the mold as well as the "rules". This chair is said to be the best selling chair of all time and has also been featured in the Museum of Modern Art. This environmentally sustainable chair was "constructed and planned to be the greenest most responsible chair ever". It is sleek, devoid of foam or stuffing and features several design elements that are very different from your average office chair.

"The Aeron chair's seat curved upwards at the edges, cradling the hips and creating a comfort pocket for the user. The lip of the seat curved downward, saving thighs from the wear and tear of eight-hour days at the desk, and increasing user circulation. The back of the chair didn't subscribe to straight lines either; it had been designed for support, curving inward to the small of the back then fanning out to the shoulders, keeping posture erect and comfort intact." (2)

The environment and usability were two of the many things considered when designing this chair. "Thinking about every aspect of the product for how it will be used to who will us it is the only way to move forward into uncharted territories in the design world". (Don Chadwick, Aeron designer)


Norman Nadeau is no stranger to renewable energy.

The 40-something financial adviser has devised a way to power almost his entire house by renewable energy systems he's installed in his own front yard. In addition to this, he hopes to use the fecal matter of his pet alpacas as fuel for a series of power generators.

Clearly, he's no stranger to inspiration as well.

In an article published in the Hartford Courant, and republished on, Norman's story, along with others in the state of Connecticut, go to show that these energy revolutionaries don't do it all for the money, but rather to "show the world it can be done."

Nadeau's story is truly inspirational because his love for energy-focused science is the result of being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He set out on a path that lead to self-sustainability, and ultimately a happier, healthier lifestyle. He had little knowledge on the subject prior to his diagnosis, and claimed that it compelled him to stay awake and scour the Internet "for every piece of information on renewable energy systems."

A similar story is unfolding in our Interactive Design II class.

While not at all related to health conditions, we have been tasked with redesigning a the website for World Class Initiative, an organization devoted to encouraging young adults (12-17), to get more involved in alternative energy sources. In our group specifically, we are designing a page around a wind belt known as the "Humdinger." Overall, the project aims to get parents and educators alike to participate in such projects with their children and students to create a larger understanding of renewable energy.

It inspires those young adults to use their time, not playing video games or watching the MTV, but rather for doing their part to make the world a better place, environmentally speaking.

And if there's one thing I've learned about inspiration, it's that if you aren't inspired, the work you do won't inspire others. And when it comes to the earth, inspiring others is something that absolutely needs to happen.


"Environmental Inspiration" on
Vibrant Life
The Humdinger Windbelt
World Class Initiative
Somewhat unrelated: Environmental Advertising Inspiration

I think Matt Wenger raised an interesting question in his blog post, when he asked if marketing green products is a self-defeating activity. With all advertising methods, some energy and materials are wasted, however, if you change your ultimate goal from marketing to awareness, one is able to find a myriad of relatively green means of showing product to the general public.

One means of raising awareness for your product, in an environmentally responsible way is at the point of purchase. With great and unique design a product can differentiate itself and bring attention to its environmental conscious at the same time (1.) Any designer who has walked through a co-op or health food store can attest to the fact that overall packing design for organic foods is poor. Organic foods typically try to play up a folksy quality while blending into the surround products. At a traditional grocery store, where organics make up only a small percentage, these folksy, plain designs make many organic products even more invisible. This is not to say that all organic and earth conscious products have poor designs, and fortunately many companies are starting to warm up to the idea of packaging their products in a dynamic way.


Another approach to raising awareness and creating hype for a product is through guerilla marketing. With a gorilla campaign, the intent is to raise buzz around a product or serve by an unconventional approach which often engages users in a "game," event or situation (2.) Blu Dot Furniture of Minneapolis preformed an excellent example of this style of marketing.

Why is this strategy greener? There is of course waste in materials and some energy use, but overall, most of the energy spent is by interested parties who involve themselves in the "game." After some initial users experience the guerilla marketing campaign, it is likely to fly around the web being featured or mentioned in numerous blogs and websites. Finally, if your gorilla marking campaign is successful and unique, rational news stations and news sources may cover it, extending the awareness to a group that never actually interacted with the campaign (3.)

These two means of information dispersal are relatively cheap in both resources and energy compared to the billboards, commercials, and retail design used by some to market their "green" products. I hope that this trend towards environmentally conscious living continues and expands, but to do so it needs to find success and profitability now. The balance between ethics and consumption is a tricky scenario, and only time will tell if people are willing to make sacrifices to see its success.

1. Lee, Presten D, Specialization: a designer's key to success in the future,

2. Miriam Webster Dictionary

3. Kim, Amy Jo, Design Strategies of Successful Communities

Being aware of the world's natural resources is evident, but as a designer it is also necessary to be aware of how to do this. So many people desire to go green, but in reality do not achieve this. This entry is to help understand this green phenomenon and how to start facilitating these important efforts.

"If the world's natural resources were evenly distributed, people in 2050 will only have 25% of the resources per capita that people in 1950 had." (Ferraro-Fanning, Angela) As we all know, graphic designers use numerous amounts of paper everyday from printing off color swatches, printing mockups, drawing, catalogs, etc. I could go on forever, but since this is already part of our job we should be aware of other options we can use. Many people do not do their part because they think it is overly expensive and additional work, which is not necessarily accurate.

Are you green in your personal life style? It is essential to start here before becoming a green designer. When working on your current or next project, take into consideration of the excess paper used. As an alternative of printing off trials and trials, strive to analyze it on screen until you believe it's nearly finished. Scraps of computer paper lying around are efficient for printing on both sides when it entails things of less importance, such as directions, emails, etc. Although it is obvious that it is necessary to print as designers, it is also vital to consider how much we are printing. After the paper has no significance place it in the recycling bin; not the trash can.

Influencing your client is the next step in becoming a green designer. There are various ways to initiate this. Instead of printing a million postcards and misusing funds to mail, send email campaigns. Emails are economical for you and your client. Also, it is confirmed to attain better results through effortless online sign up or registering process. Online catalogs are another option to start saving resources. The majority of computer friendly people appreciate online stores because it saves a lot of time and catalogs are usually not at hand. Lastly, it is clear that printing is still crucial and will remain. Alternatives involve printing on post-consumer content (recycled paper). Many clients are becoming apt to using post-consumer content to print their marketing materials. As a designer it is essential to remember that designing on post-consumer content can still achieve its' visually pleasing aesthetic. There is a book I found online, Green Graphic Design by Brian Dougherty, with some great comments about the book. Here is a comment proving that, as a designer, it is your job to influence your client,
"Few of my clients urged me to design their marketing communication materials in expensive four color, I blankly said no and suggested them to use cheap recycled packaging paper to develop their collaterals. Finally we did some fantastic designs with silk screening technology and cut color styles."

If you become really committed, another option would be to trade out your printing inks with soy or vegetable basked inks. There are a million more possible efforts, these are just a couple to get you started and aware of the earth's natural resources.

Ferraro-Fanning, Angela. 13thirtyone Design.

There are clothing trends, music trends, artistic trends and now more than ever, there are environmental trends. Being conscious of one's impact on the earth has never been more popular. Popular in the sense that it is a common and almost necessary change in people's lifestyles, but also popular in the sense that "being green" is stylish and trendy. But does it matter? People who were "in this from the beginning" complain about the trend-seekers hopping on the band-wagon for the next cool thing, which in this case is loving the earth. Band-wagon or not, this trend has had an incredible impact on the planet.

These days, a Prius is cooler than a Hummer; you'll be met with evil glares if carrying around a plastic water bottle and reusable tote bags are the hottest accessory. Albeit many people are approaching the green lifestyle with intentions of being seen as green, able to purchase these new eco-friendly products and somewhat adapt to a low-impact lifestyle while still retaining the comforts they are used to.


However irrelevant this may be, I remember a small essay I did in 5th grade. I am sure I no longer have the floppy disk (!) where it was saved, but I am able to recall the general topic I discussed. This was around the time when the WWJD bracelets were popular. Kids didn't have enough money to purchase their own clothing yet, but these small and trendy bracelets were a way for them to join in with a mainstream trend. In my paper, little cynical 10-year-old me ranted about how the wearing of these bracelets is only done to be like the other kids, to be cool; not belief in the message around one's wrist. On the flip side, it could be argued that whether or not someone is actively conscious of these four letters, by having the little trinkets show up everywhere raises an awareness and possible positive change for everyone.


This all ties back to the trendiness of being green. Does it matter if people do it to boast a fashionable and perhaps privileged lifestyle? Fad or not, at the end of the day, does it really matter what people's motives are as long as we are all moving in the right direction?

Griskevicius, Vladas, Joshua M. Tybur, and Bram Van Den Bergh. Going Green to Be Seen; Status, Reputation and Conspicuous Conservation.

Johnson, Adrian. "Has Going Green Become More of a Trend than a Solution?" M Live 28 Feb. 2009.

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