Sustainable Graphic Design – Definition, Examples

For any graphic designer, sustainable graphic design is an important concept. But it is very hard to say that designers don’t even think about sustainability before engaging in design. While designing digital or physical products, a graphic designer uses resources like energy, water, chemicals, ink, paper, etc., which collectively have a big impact on the environment. Sustainability comes in graphic design when designers maintain economically, socially, and ecologically sustainable factors.

What is Sustainable Graphics Design?

Sustainable Graphic Design is the practice to follow principles of sustainability in graphic design. It mainly focuses on having minimal impacts on the environment. It also cares about the social and economical aspects to maintain sustainability. Sustainable Graphic Design is also popularly known as eco-friendly graphic design.

Whether it is a physical or digital product, the selection of resources can minimize environmental impacts. A physical product selection with shape, size, materials, ink, and paper, can reduce the carbon footprints of the product. Similarly, digital product selection with low power consumption and low radiation-emitting design techniques helps to achieve sustainable graphics design.

Sustainable Graphic Design Definition

We can say a graphic is sustainable if it cares in three main steps selection of materials, eco-friendliness, and can be sustained in the market. Hence, Sustainable Graphics Design can be defined as the digital or physical design process including the right materials, less ecological impacts, and innovative design to sustain in the market.

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Most graphic designers do not know about the concept of sustainable design, and those who know take it very lightly. It is because it is not a trending topic right now. But it will gain importance in the future when environmental problems become serious.

Sustainable Graphic Design Examples

Many popular companies have started to follow sustainable design by utilizing biodegradable components, social acceptability, and economically beneficial steps in developing their products.

Research pointed out that 2% of the global greenhouse emissions are caused by the information and communication technology sector, and that it will increase to 15% by 2040.


Sustainable Graphic Design can be a very wide topic. True sustainability exists where economics, social and ecological sustainability intersects. A bitter truth, but 100% of sustainable graphic design does not exist. Nowadays companies like Apple, HP, Dell, IKEA, Microsoft, etc. are doing their best to improve sustainability.

Apple Contributing in Sustainable
Apple contributing to eco-friendly
HP Using Sustainable Graphic Design
HP ‘Responsibility in Sustainable
Dell Responsibility in sustainable
Dell Responsibility in sustainable

Technology is advancing, and it’s seeking to minimize environmental impacts by developing less power-consuming products, using reusable or biodegradable materials, allocating more budget for ecology, hiring manpower globally, etc. Some other examples of sustainable graphic design are given below.

Apple Steps in making minimal design
Apple Steps in making minimal design
Concept of Sustainable Graphic Design
Concept of Sustainable Graphic Design
Sustainable Graphic Design Example
Sustainable Graphic Design Example – Credit
Sustainable Graphic Design Example
Sustainable Graphic Design – Definition, Examples

Sustainable Graphic Design Practices.

Graphic Designers can practice the following points to make their designs Sustainable Graphic Design.

  • Print with biodegradable GSM paper.
  • Use energy-efficient equipment, and unneeded energy-consuming devices should be turned off.
  • Make use of VOC Inks when printing.
  • Design reusable patterns.
  • Make minimally stunning designs that use little ink.
  • If the task can be accomplished digitally, choose digital rather than printing.
  • Making the appropriate font and color choices can reduce ink usage and draw attention.
Sustainable Graphic Design – Definition, Examples
Sustainable Graphic Design – Definition, Examples

What is eco-friendly graphic design?

Eco-friendly graphics design is a graphic design technique that focuses on implementing the 3Rs approach: reduce, reuse, and recycle. It is very similar to sustainable graphic design, but its main motto is to decrease environmental impacts.

The use of environmentally friendly materials, such as papers, inks, etc., inspires designers to create graphics that are eco-friendly graphic design. It also doesn’t give much thought to how long the design or product will be viable from an economic and social standpoint.

Read >> Types of Computer Graphics

Sustainable graphic design becomes differs from ecofriendly graphics design because it is not only about the environment and earth but the design chosen must be economically and socially acceptable.

How does sustainable graphic design help in reducing carbon footprints?

The size, color, and shape of your designs can have a significant impact on the final product. The carbon footprint of printed designs can be considerably decreased by selecting the right paper, ink, and materials. Fewer emissions and better utilization of natural resources result from this. Additionally, there is a carbon cost and factors for photographs that will only be seen electronically. Additionally, there is the setting in which you operate as a designer, the energy used by your tools, and the manufacturers whose goods you favor.

Principles of Sustainable Graphics Design

When it comes to making a graphic design sustainable, three main principles come that are economically, ecologically, and economically sustainable. Principles of sustainable graphics design encourage following the less is more approach.

1. Ecological Sustainability

The designs and products need to accept ecological sustainability. Using more and more reusing old designs, using biodegradable materials, and minimizing power consumption can maintain ecological sustainability.

2. Economic Sustainability

Only those products and designs win the market that is economically sustainable. If a product is not economically sustainable, then it directly affects social sustainability. Only economically sustainable products can sustain in the market. Designs using fewer resources are more economically affordable and can decrease pollution.

3. Social Sustainable

It is very important for a designer to check how socially sustainable will be their designs. People of many sentiments live in society. Designing and development processes should be carried out after studying the sentiment of the population. If the product is economically and ecologically sustainable, then marketing can influence people. Providing more satisfaction at a low cost and using more biodegradable resources make the design socially sustainable.

Popular Sustainable Graphic Designers

1. Victor Papanek

American-born in Austria, Victor Papanek was a lecturer and designer focused on the built environment’s ethical and ecological aspects. He believed that design was one of humanity’s most potent tools since it allowed us to better shape our circumstances to meet our and our civilizations’ requirements.

2. Deborah Sussman

Deborah Sussman, a pioneer in ecological graphic design, influenced many designers. She said the design should be closely tied to the environment and coined the word “graphitecture” to collaborate with city planners, designers, artists, and architects. She worked with Eames, Gehry, and Foster Partners and designed the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

3. Richard Buckminster Fuller

Richard Buckminster Fuller was an American designer, writer, inventor, and architect who was concerned, decades ahead of his time, with human activity’s influence on the world. Fuller was also an early proponent of the geodesic dome. During his lifetime (1895–1983), many criticized him for his environmental responsibility notions.

4. Bruce Mau

Bruce Mau is a Canadian architect, artist, museum curator, graphic designer, and philosopher known for applying an environmentally and ecologically focused approach to architecture, art, and even philosophy.

5. Curro Claret

Barcelona-born industrial designer Curro Claret. He’s designed small objects, installations, and interiors. Passionate about sustainability, he intended church pews that could change into beds for the homeless and shoelace buildings for Camper stores in Spain.

It is up to us how much we can make our life comfortable without impacting nature. Sustainable Graphic Design is the same concept of using fewer non-biodegradable resources without impacting the quality of products. While designing graphically, we should think consciously about making our design eco-friendlier, socially, and economically acceptable. We should take advantages of computer graphics and focus on digital sources rather than printed sources.

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