5 Books Every Green Graphic Designer Should Read Today

1. Green Graphic Design – Brian Dougherty

I want to start off this reccommendation with an aknowledgement of respect about how Brian and his company Celery Design Collective truly tried to change things in the industry 10 years ago and pioneered this movement. Green Graphic Design is a great introduction to the concepts and practices you can use in your design work to mitigate your environmental impact. The book’s pretty hard to come by unfortunately, a few copies on Amazon, and eBook distribution only. Reading this book 10 years later, it’s clear that some concepts and ideologies discussed in the book were products of their time and have grown outdated with new information, different political tensions and updated research. Regardless, it’s a great beginner read to get you aquainted with the main concepts for Green Graphic Designers to adhere to and to get you thinking more about your environmental impact and the lifecycle of everything you have a hand in creating – is it recyclable? Does it end up in landfill?

2. Design to Renourish – Eric Benson and Yvette Peullo

This is where we start getting into advanced techniques and practices with green graphic design. A 500-page tome, this book builds on the two before it and truly covers advanced methedoligies – I reccommend pidking this one up after you’ve aquainted yourself with the basics of the switch to sustainability otherwise I think it might be a bit overwhelming. Written in 2010, it’s important to keep any knowledge you have about environmental policies that is more up to date in mind, especially around recycling practices and bioplastics. The recycling scene in 2019 after China has pulled out of North American markets for recycling is a vastly different world than in 2010. The book covers everything from materials, paper, ink, processes, biomimicry, systems views, environmental impact and best practices.

3. Sustainable Graphic Design – Wendy Jedlička

Design to Renourish is by Eric Benson and Yvette Peullo and is in similar theme to the first reccommendation. This book goes more into the ideologies and theory behind Green Graphic Design and covers several case studies. The book discusses supply chains and the ethics of sourcing sustainably, as well as discussing theory around complex systems thinking and how all of our decisions about how we design things are interconnected and have farther reaching impacts than we may think about at first glance. I view it as very complimentary to Green Graphic Design, and fills the gaps in knowledge about the behind the scenes systems and theory behind the first book. These two together are perfect to get yourself aquainted with the fundamentals.

4. Sustainable Graphic Design – Peter Claver Fine

This book is almost entirely case-study focused, and covers a variety of projects that designers have conducted in an environmentally-friendly way. It’s quite specific with the materials used and how the projects were put together, and the methodology behind the project. It also covers some theory that is also covered in the other books mentioned before. It discusses some of the history of re-usability or lack of it in order to situate green design theory in history.

5. Drawdown – Paul Hawken

This book is for anyone curious about the impact any of these practices truly has on the environment and whether or not it is of value in terms of meeting the reccommendations outlined in the 2018 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Paul Hawken evaluates everything from electric vehicles, to refridgerant coolants, and recycled paper in order to calculate the impact it has on carbon sequestering, the cost to implement effective systems, and the estimated money saved in the long-term from implementing those systems. The estimated cost saved is based on environmental damages should we fail to reach the IPCC report of 1.5 degrees celcius warming.

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