Earth Day was last month and magazines made the most of it by making April their “Green Issue”. Here’s my favorite, and least favorite, of the bunch.
In my days before being the web designer for RAN, I did a fair bit of print work and developed an interest in ways to minimize the ecological impact of what—at the end of the day—is still turning trees into disposable content. It’s when I first learned of the FSC and kenaf. I truly believe that we need a take-your-values-to-work day as our 9-to-5 efforts often have just as big an impact on our environment as the lightbulbs we use or car we drive. I’ve been paying attention recently to the role designers play in creating both desire (and thus consumption!) and solutions.
For this reason, I was delighted to pick up the “Green Issue” of Creative Review magazine. According to the cover, it’s technically called the “It’s About Time We Did Something About Sustainability and the Environment” issue. That same cover also has the table of contents, just to save some pages. Getting magazine designers to think about sustainability leads to some very interesting innovations. A special section breaks down how much ink, paper, metal plates, and chemicals went into the issue’s making and how they’ve sized the magazine to waste less paper (it’s square), are switching to a new paper, recycle their plates and unsold copies, and are examining their entire supply chain for ways to improve.
Other articles include: Creative Activism, talking to your clients about sustainability, how to design for low impact, the greening of Apple, inside the greenwashing industry, and taking your studio carbon-neutral. All the bases are covered. Finally, they fully acknowledge the “Green Issue” trend and the dangers of mere lip service instead pledging that the changes they made for this issue will be permanent from now on and advertising their downloadable version E-CR which, obviously, saves a lot of ink and paper.
In stark contrast, I picked up the latest copy of Common Ground at my local coffee shop, taking note of interviews with both Bill McKibben and Van Jones (who makes me proud to be a Jones). The articles were great as expected but I was horrified to find three more copies sitting on my front steps when I got back to my apartment. One for me, one for my roommate, one for my upstairs neighbors. I looked around and noted that yes, everyone on my block had received a free copy of the “Earth Day” issue. I’m already a member of GreenDimes to avoid just this situation and the added preposterousness of it being the “Green Issue” was honestly insulting.
I tried to find an explanation inside of how Common Ground, with a print run of 50,000, was monitoring and improving its practices. All I could find was a recycled logo, with no indication of the degree (100% post-consumer, I’m hoping). For a San Francisco magazine full of ads for organic milk and yoga retreats, it gets its ass handed to it by a bunch of UK designers in terms of walking the walk. Here’s hoping they step it up and outdo them next round, as I do genuinely appreciate the content.
Okay, I admit that I haven’t read every single Green Issue that’s out there, but these are my picks. Feel free to nominate your own best and worst Green Issues in the comments.
Crossposted on Stanifesto.