Ads Made of Sea Water: Three reasons to re-imagine your design

3 06 2009

A www.greenprinteronline.com dispatch.

This week, we scoured Google, we marveled and finally chose three design resources, trends and case studies from around the globe that inspire in their boundary pushing work. You’ll probably re-think using the colour green in your branding palette. And that’s a good thing.

1. Did you ever wonder what all those old marketing posters for saving the endangered spotted owls could be made out of? In 1980s, you could have conjured nasty words like ‘subterranean chemicals’ or ‘volatile organic compounds‘ (VOCs).

Today, with accelerated greenwash scrutiny and green fatique, design and marketing firms are taking a lead on using sustainable paper, non-VOC inks and eco-friendly printing methods.  And then, there is Curb, a U.K. media agency who is taking environmental ads to its original, deep roots.

And, no, I’m not talking about just bamboo paper or soy inks. Curb works with ephemeral materials like turf, snow and most recently…sea water.

Their by far coolest experiment is their stenciled ads for a London aquarium. “Because salt water evaporates more slowly than fresh water, the ads have a lifetime of about twenty minutes, leaving nothing behind but a light dusting of natural sea salt.” Shout out to Jacquelyn Ottman of the fabulous One Hundred Things blog for sharing this agency’s work.

2. You have probably heard of the cradle to cradle product design philosophy honed by celebrity architectural design firm William McDonough + Partners. The challenge, of course, lies in figuring out a process (particularly in larger firms) to pass on the learning and implementation of C2C design to junior staff.

This online teaser by Okala (means “life sustaining energy”) provides an interesting design curriculum. And apparently, over 60 design schools in North America have already requested Okala’s course material.

3. Transparency. As simple of a concept as it is (we’ve covered ‘visible electricity’ in NYC‘ before), transparency in design is as beautiful as it is smart and ethical when applied in a marketing context.

In a recent InHabitat article on the Emerging Technology Conference, Worldchanging’s Alex Steffen called for “greater product transparency (where are things made, by whom, using what materials?) and touched upon the surging field of water and power monitors as encouraging people to consume less resources. If people know more about the products and services they consume, then they will make more sustainable choices.”

Transparency isn’t only about measurement. It is a core human principle that implicates the responsibility to tell others about the possible harm behind one’s actions or more specific to this post, one’s product designs.

For instance, it’s about making information available for female consumers who can absorb up to five pounds of make-up chemicals in their bodies over a year. And, it’s articles like these by the Harvard Business blog on the GoodGuide and SkinDeep that make the full ecological and human health costs of our products and designs more visible.

And, last but not least, as you re-imagine your design process, you can check out Brian Dougherty’s absolutely beautiful book, Green Graphic Design online.

Want to know how much greenhouse gas, trees and wastewater you can save by using affordable, eco-friendly paper products? Find out and keep track of your organization’s environmental savings today by adding Green Printer’s Eco-Calculator widget code to your blog or website.


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