We've talked a lot about fabric in the Designing Green blog series, so I would like to turn our attention to another huge market for surface pattern designers: paper. Much like the textile industry, the paper trade is one of the most damaging to the environment. From the ruinous effects of deforestation, such as habitat loss and the massive reduction of carbon dioxide-absorbing trees, to the air and water pollution that is caused by manufacturing, the pretty paper items we designers want to bring to the world have a side to them that's not so much…well, pretty.
So, what's a surface pattern designer who wants a gig in the paper industry to do? For one, you could work with a company like Waste Not Paper in Chicago, Illinois. Waste Not Paper is the wholesale division of the popular paper and gift retail chain Paper Source in the US and its mission is to supply beautiful, environmentally friendly paper products at a reasonable price.
A green ethos permeates just about every aspect of Waste Not Paper's business. Their products are sourced from within the US, keeping it local for American retailers. They work with paper mills that meet sustainable forestry and energy-use standards as well as with artists making paper items by hand. Many of their paper lines contain recycled content and are manufactured without the use of elemental chlorine (PCF), and if printed, are done so using printers with reduced volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions.
Waste Not Paper even strives to maintain a green work environment. Their office promotes recycling and creative reuse of scraps and packaging materials, participates in Chicago's Bike-to-Work-Week, and is situated near public transportation.
Waste Not Paper: Thank you for proving that gorgeous, creative design and protecting the earth do not have to be mutually exclusive!
P.S. I am available for hire as your next designer.