A New USP for Your Success: How to Become a “Green Designer"

From Oprah to the evening news – environmental consciousness is everywhere. And this creates a career opportunity for you.

Why? Because environmentally conscientious companies are selling everything from organic foods and cleaning supplies to bamboo clothes. Environmentally friendly products are sprouting like mushrooms after a heavy spring rain … with no end in sight.

By becoming a green designer, you place yourself in a position to do good for the environment. But you also create a USP for your business that sets you apart from other designers.

And because new “green” products are being developed and marketed almost every day, you gain access to new clients as well as established companies that are starting to embrace greener standards to keep their customers happy.

They all need a green designer to help them make the right choices. Here’s how you can do it … by making only a few slight changes in the way you already work:

Designing With Sustainable Materials
and Processes in Mind


Paper comes to mind as the first green resource to embrace. Many papers available today are made from recycled materials or without the use of bleach. And they are a far cry from the yellowish recycled paper stock of the 90s.

Paper made from alternative materials like cotton, bamboo, hemp, or sugarcane fiber provide a wide range of green choices as well.

You can request free samples from these major paper companies:

Commercial Printing:

To go green with commercial printing, opt for optimum sheet use. Work closely with the printer early in the planning process. Parent sheets of paper typically come in several standard sizes. You can size your projects to make more efficient use of standard sheet sizes by printing two-, three-, or four-up (or more) to use less paper and minimize waste.

When making comps, request the use of double-sided, smaller, reused, or recycled paper.

Research printing houses that use environmentally friendly inks (also called agri-based inks). These are made from biodegradable organic components, such as soy, linseed, or cottonseed oil.

These practices not only help save the environment, they save your client money. So he profits from being environmentally conscious.


DM companies often have a tight printing and mailing budget, so they are forced to choose the most economical way to do a mailing. But with environmental awareness rising, many of them are looking for ways to make their promotions look as well as be environmentally friendly.

Those that market environmentally friendly products are especially keen to send the right message – so they wouldn’t want to alienate potential customers with, for example, a high-gloss 4-color magalog. A better choice would be a low-key letter printed on recycled paper. And to draw attention to the company’s commitment to the environment, be sure to include a note stating the piece was produced on recycled paper with environmental friendly inks.


Cost cutting on postage might not seem environmentally friendly. But if your client saves money on postage, he can afford to spend a little bit more to use recycled paper or agri-based inks. So work with your client to see how the size, aspect ratio, or weight of the promotion can be optimized for lower postage rates.

What Does This Mean to You and Your Career?

There is a great deal of demand for green designers who can help clients with DM mailings – a demand that increases daily.

And with few DM designers offering green design services, you have an excellent opportunity to do good for the environment … while you build your career and success.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »

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Published: February 28, 2008

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