Friday, February 13, 2009

Make your mark using eco-friendly inks

Most people think “eco-friendly stationery” has everything to do with the paper. Just as important (and often overlooked) is the ink used to create the images and impressions we see on paper.

However, not all inks are created equal! “Traditional” inks are considered toxic to the environment because they don't decompose in landfills, they emit air pollution in the form of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) and are based on petroleum, a non-renewable resource. Unfortunately, these inks are commonly used in printing processes because they are readily available and considered to be cost-effective. Thankfully, there are alternatives. Here are some suggestions on how make a 'green' impression on paper:

Use vegetable-based inks (soy, flax, canola or safflower)

- emit low VOCs
- derived from renewable resources
- easily stripped from paper in the recycling process
- biodegradable
- available for commercial and personal printing equipment
- provide high-quality, vibrant prints

Remember that less is more

Source short-run printing using solid wax ink or by digital press using liquid ink. These processes can print small quantities with less setup and chemical clean-up required.

Lasso’d Moon Designs: eco-friendly printer, uses wax based solid ink.

Even better: print only what you need. Source stationers who print by hand using block print, silkscreen or letterpress.

(left) Feterie: Eco-Luxe Gift Wrap is hand silkscreen-printed with soy/veg-based ink | (right) Artful Sentiments: Each card is an original work of art, hand printed

Hire a calligrapher for your stationery package or envelope addressing (you can also do it yourself).

Betsy Dunlap: calligraphy by hand

Design considerations: choose designs that use less ink or none at all. Look for minimalist designs or letterpress that incorporates ‘embossing’, where the impression into the paper creates the design without ink.

Paper stories: embossed letterpress design

Go digital: where possible, eliminate the ink altogether. Use wedding websites for wedding day information (such as Accommodation or Direction details) and send “Save the Date” notifications via email.

Eco-saavy consumers on a quest for eco-friendly stationery should look beyond recycled paper. Work with stationers who resource low-VOC ink solutions with the capacity to run small quantities and you'll be doing your part to support sustainability!

- Lianne Tokey, baron*cards

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