Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Domtar Designer Corner presents Eco-Smart

So, for a while now, I've become fascinated with how different paper companies have been handling the sustainability issue. Sappi Fine Paper is now wearing its FSC Certification loud and proud, and Mohawk (my favorite thus far, and the line I spec most often) actually trains a selected group of its sales staff as specialists in eco-friendly print production. Love them!

A couple of days ago, I finally took notice of Domtar EarthChoice, a line of eco-responsible papers from Domtar. After some poking around on the Domtar site (and getting some samples, including a really cool album cover poster that they just wanted me to have, apparently), I noticed something exciting: The Domtar Designer Corner, which has all sorts of information goodies for designers - from creative tips and tips on using paper effectively to (my favorite) a complete section called Eco-Smart, which has all sorts of green news and tips for the eco-friendly designer in all of us. My favorite eco-news: Victoria's Secret is making steps towards greening their catalogs! Hey - it's small - but progress is always good.

I can't wait to spend some time with this site.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Announcing the Center for Sustainable Design

I'm happy to announce that, according to my buddy Eric over at Re-Nourish, the AIGA has finally ventured into the sustainability discussion at Look for discussions on sustainable design, news and case studies pertaining to this growing field of interest to the conscience-based designer. I'm still working up some case studies for them, so look for some stuff from me, too.


Green Printing - Talking to Your Printer

The other day I heard from Jill Balkus of Jill Lynn Design (who really has some great work, by the way) with a question about finding green printers for one of her clients who (kudos to her) has insisted on green design and printing for their upcoming project together. The following is some advice I shared with her. I hope you find it useful!

Hey Dani!

How’s life? How’s business? Mine is crazy as always. I believe I was reading a recent post of yours on the How Forum about making time for marketing-something I can never do!

Anyway, that’s not why I’m writing. I have a client who’s a health counselor who’s interested in producing business cards/letterhead/envelopes on recycled, eco-friendly, soy-based stock. I’m sure you know some printers who specialize in this. Would you mind forwarding me a few names?

Hi Jill,

It’s great to hear from you! There’s actually no such thing as soy-based stock, but there are a number of really good options for both high-recycled content and alternative-fiber papers depending on the client’s budget. For high-recycled, I go with Strathmore Script PC100 – it comes in white and cream and it’s an exact match of the Mohawk Options PC100 (but it comes in smaller quantities). If you’re looking for somethin a bit more natural/crunchy looking, Fox River has some interesting sheets (the Confetti line is pretty good for recycled content, if I remember) and Neenah’s Environment line has a couple of nice alternative-fiber papers. Celery Design in San Francisco has a great overall list of great eco-papers:

In terms of printers, you can find a bunch of options just by doing a Google Search or looking in the phone book. Call around to a few places and ask them for more information about their shop. Some specific questions:

• Do you use vegetable-based or petroleum-based inks?
• Do you use traditional film-based plates, or are you Computer to Plate?
• Do you recycle your paper waste?

There’s a lot of good information on re-nourish as well (, including information on Pantone colors that have lower levels of toxic materials.

Hope that helps!

That's a good start, but as always, that's just the tip of the green iceberg. How do you start a dialogue with your printers? What other things do you look for?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

McDonald's has a new look, and it includes nutrition facts!

Okay, so I'm not one that normally decides to head on into McDonald's, especially after watching Supersize Me with my boyfriend Nick a while back (which is enough to turn you off their food for life), but once in a while, I do find it nice to stop in for a bit of something. Last night, Nick and I stopped in to the McD's on Tremont Street after the movies for something to eat, and although the food was - well - pretty darn awful (I probably won't be doing that again soon), I did notice something really cool as I looked at the recently redesigned Filet-o-Fish box; not only was it well-designed (I must admit I like the new brand - it speaks very well to their intended audience, and definitely makes a difference in the overall perception of the company), it had nutrition information on it! Not hidden, not on some weird sign somewhere in this huge table that you're never going to look at, but printed, right there on the side of the box, was all the nutrition information for the sandwich. Nick noticed the same on his Big Mac, and it was also on the medium fry we shared.

Taking a quick look at the McDonald's website, I noticed that there's a new focus on health and nutrition info, with the information pretty easily accessible from the main page (as in, I only had to click a few links to get there). This is huge, considering the fact that up until a few years ago, you couldn't even really find it anywhere.

Although I still won't say McDonald's is my favorite corporate entity (in fact, it's one of my least favorite), I have to recognize the fact that more and more major corporations are starting to incorporate more social responsibility into their daily operations. Nobody denies that McDonald's food isn't healthy, but if you can tell a person flat out "hey, that teeny little fish sandwich you're eating is about 400 calories - just sayin" on the box, it'll help that person make a smarter choice somewhere down the road. Or, at least, one hopes so.

Now if they'd just make a salad that wasn't as unhealthy as a cheeseburger!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

I've become a mentor

I wasn't really planning for it to happen, but there it was. At a recent meeting of the Downtown Women's Club, I met a woman who was just at the first stages of starting her own business, and I couldn't stop myself from saying, "oh, you need to read these books, and there are these clubs you can join, and oh - this could work for you too!" She, like me when I first started (and let's face it, like me now every once in a while) was feeling overwhelmed with all there was to DO, and as a result, was stagnating on imortant things. Now, for the last two weeks, we've been meeting once a week and discussing the challenges we face as business owners, and I help her figure out action plans for getting everything done in a manageable way.

And you know what? It feels REALLY, REALLY GOOD. I've always loved helping other people succeed (after all, isn't that what designers do?) and the fact that I'm able to take time out of my schedule to give back to even one person has not only been incredibly rewarding in a spiritual sense, it's helping me define things that I need to work on for my own business. And let's face it - the appreciation ROCKS.

I'm beginning to realize even more, at this stage of my business, how important those mutually supportive networks are. Getting together even once a week with a couple (even one) other people just to chat about the challenges and successes of running your own business is one of the most valuable gifts you can give yourself as a business owner. I haven't felt this good in weeks!

So, now I'm curious: what's your favorite part of running your own business? Is it the freedom, the money? Is it the ability to be your own boss, or is it also the ability to give back in ways you didn't think you could?