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Printing With Purpose

Written by in Environmental Responsibility

Four Projects with a Bigger Purpose:
 Sustainable, Effective, Memorable

Sustainable design. Design for good. Design for social change. Environmental design. We’ve heard the terms, but what do they all mean? How can graphic designers, printers, brand managers, and other creative professionals make informed choices in paper and printing that make a real difference? This article offers a few fresh ideas on how design, paper, and print choices can have a higher purpose. Enjoy some terrific work from Willoughby Design (Kansas City), Modern Species (Seattle), Jenn David Design (San Diego), and Lewis Carnegie (Austin).


HYLA Mobile Collateral System
Willoughby Design, Kansas City




Willoughby Design was charged with rebranding a company that was born to help solve an environmental problem—recycling mobile phones. Megan Stephens, partner at Willoughby, says, “eRecyclingCorps was founded in 2009 because the founders, who both came from the mobile technology world, realized that e-waste was quickly becoming an environmental and global problem. Mobile devices were being thrown into landfills at alarming rates—devices that still had a lot of value if not to another user than to someone who could recycle them for their precious metals and parts.”

Color & Texture: Where Old School Meets New School

Read more: Color & Texture in High Value Print Applications.

In 2012, Willoughby Design started working with the company to refine their core vision and brand strategy as they moved from start-up phase to a global economy. “Because they were doing so much more reuse than recycling, the name eRecyclingCorps no longer made sense. In addition, it sounded more like a not-for-profit than a for-profit socially responsible business,” Stephens says.




The name Hyla was born from the company’s tree frog mascot, named Freddy. “Hyla is the scientific name for the genus tree frog. It is grounded in the values associated with Freddy, at the same time, it has the attributes of a more visionary name in that it is short, easy to say and, for a mobile company, almost feels like a greeting with ‘Hi’ in the name,” she notes. With this vision and new name, the Willoughby team designed new brand materials, with sustainable attributes in mind.

It was integral that Hyla Mobile practice their values, and using environmentally friendly paper was part of that. In addition, they only printed what they needed. The Why HYLA? book, for example, is a piece that employees keep at their desk to help remind them why the company exists. It’s also a reference tool they can use when asked to tell the story.

Stephens notes, “We needed a paper with a quality and thoughtful feel that was also made out of recycled materials. Neenah ENVIRONMENT® delivered on this requirement. The paper feels feel natural but, at the same time, high quality and reflective of the thought and intention that was put into the creation of the printed materials. Hyla is not a shiny brand. It is a natural, responsible, dependable and vibrant brand. Neenah Environment paper helped us express those brand attributes in print.”


Makes 3
Modern Species, Seattle

Makes 3 packaging

When your client creates organic body care products, it only makes sense to create packaging that reflects their dedication to clean, simple, honest products. Modern Species in Seattle, Washington, was hired to develop the identity and packaging for this new product, and determine the best materials to use to maintain the Makes 3 ethos.

The soap boxes were printed by Color Graphics on Neenah Folding Board 100PC using VOC-free ink. “Color Graphics made us a die with six boxes fit to a sheet, which is not cheap, but allowed us to use up the maximum amount of press sheet to reduce waste. Because the soap bars don’t have any harsh ingredients that could eat away at the paper, the boxes didn’t require a protective coating,” says Modern Species partner Jennifer Stewart.

The liquid soap and balm labels were also specially sourced. Makes 3 used PET plastic bottles and Modern Species designed the labels for the front and back, which were printed on TerraSkin by Ross Printing. “We wanted to use TerraSkin’s stone paper, which is made of calcium carbonate and HDPE plastic. The paper requires no water to manufacture, which is a nice offset for a water-intensive product like soap,” Stewart explains. “The material doesn’t run or separate under constant immersion in oil and water and, it is a closed-loop product—once the paper fiber is too short to recycle, it can be composted.”

Adding adhesive for labels removes the paper from that loop, so using an alternative for paper in labels keeps more tree fiber in the loop. She adds. “Stone label paper also has a greater possibility of being separable from the product as well as the adhesive itself, which would allow it to be recycled back into stone label paper, and therefore a closed-loop product itself. That will require a lot more manufacturers using it, but it’s a nice dream!”


Vintage Posters & Postcards
Jenn David Design, San Diego


Jenn David Connolly of Jenn David Design in San Diego, California, is known for her boutique branding and packaging. However, after being recognized in Communication Arts for a poster she illustrated for a client, she decided to start a side business illustrating and selling vintage posters and postcards. And, although sustainability wasn’t top of mind when she started this venture, she wanted to be smart about it. The posters are digitally printed on demand, reducing inventory waste.

“My intent with the posters was to have as large a line as possible but keep it flexible and not have a lot of inventory on hand or shell out a lot of money up front on printing costs. I wanted it to be a side business where I could do illustration, which I enjoy. It’s a fun complement to my strategic design business,” David Connolly says.

“Sustainability is always a focus of my life and work—seeing how we can do things most effectively to minimize waste, without sacrificing quality,” Connolly adds. “The Neenah CLASSIC CREST® Linen prints beautifully on the Indigo press and the texture enhances the design style to create a perfect vintage effect.”





Lady Bird Johnson Environmental Award
Lewis Carnegie, Austin



Lady Bird Johnson was an active environmentalist before it was popular to be one. “Lady Bird was known for her love of flowers and spreading wildflowers in Texas. Therefore it was appropriate to have an invitation that could bloom into its own when planted,” says Sean Carnegie of Lewis Carnegie, who designed the invitation to the LBJ Foundation Environmental Dinner. The event recognizes an individual who is an innovator in issues affecting our environment, and leading the sustainable movement.

The letterpress invite is printed on wildflower seed paper from Botanical Seed Works—it has wildflower seeds meshed directly into the pulp. If you plant it, water it, and tend it, it will  bloom, says Carnegie. “Throughout her lifetime, Lady Bird encouraged natural beautification and environmental projects throughout the nation best summarized by her statement, ‘Where flowers bloom, so does hope.’”

“Throughout her lifetime, Lady Bird encouraged natural beautification and environmental projects throughout the nation best summarized by her statement, ‘Where flowers bloom, so does hope.’”  — Sean Carnegie





As First Lady, Lady Bird promoted the Highway Beautification Act. Across the United States—and especially in  Texas in the springtime—”You’ve witnessed her influence–the outcome being the result of law enforcement spreading wildflowers seeds from vehicle windows along Texas roads.”

The 300 invitations were letterpress printed at Sargent Brothers in Austin, Texas. The wrap, reply card, and envelope are printed on Neenah CLASSIC CREST® Natural White paper.