The Greening Of Adlandia

Sustainability and advertising don’t exactly fit together like peas in a pod. Yet, after hearing industrialist-turned-environmentalist, Ray Anderson, CEO of Interface, speak in Savannah two weeks ago, I know there is a place for green practices in the ad biz, just like there is at home, at school, at the gym, etc.
Inspired chiefly by Paul Hawken’s treatise, The Ecology of Commerce, Anderson reinvented himself and moved the company he founded toward environmental sustainability. Today Interface–the world’s leading producer of soft-surfaced modular floorcoverings–reaps the profits in dollars as the result. Anderson has found a way to do the right thing and increase profits at the same time—creating a modern day environmental case study that’s second to none.
It is with these thoughts in mind that I happily stumbled upon Re-Nourish, nutrients for the graphic design community. Here’s some of what they’re going for:

Packaging sells. As great as a product may be, without packaging many in-store purchases wouldn’t happen. However, the flip side to packaging is that it accounts for 33% of our solid municipal waste in our landfills. Our packaging is made of paper, plastic, foam, aluminum and glass. Much of this could be reused or recycled (only 30% actually does) but instead lies forever in our community dumps. Every year the EPA finds Americans throw away:
5,190,000 tons of glass beer and soda bottles
4,200,000 tons of plastic wrap and bags
3,650,000 tons of junk mail
970,000 tons of plates and cups
830,000 tons of beer and soda cans
450,000 tons of milk cartons
Should our design work end up in the trash? What message does that send? Shouldn’t our work do better? Not only should it sell the product, but in turn not burden future generations with increasing waste?

This isn’t about sorting our papers into the right bins, it’s about redesigning design. And rethinking pretty much everything in terms of what kind of footprint an idea puts into the environment.
Three million tons of junk mail?



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.