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Design for Environmental Business

As featured in the South Wales Argus Business Magazine, Androulla provides an insight into how clever design can find solutions challenging businesses looking to build upon their green credentials.

Plastic Waste in water illustration

Were you one of the 12 million viewers moved by David Attenborough’s Planet Earth II when it aired on the BBC? The series became the most-watched natural history documentary for over 15 years and kick started what has now become known as the ‘Attenborough Effect’. Online searches for “plastic recycling” saw a rise of 55% in the UK followed by a chain of events resulting in the War on Plastic Waste and the wider social movement surrounding it.

Images highlighting the impact that the man-made material is having on marine life, ocean scapes and landscapes hit home driving organisations of all shapes and sizes to review not just their plastic consumption but also their overall environmental impact and social responsibility.

Cue major corporations including IKEA, M&S, Philips, Nike, Kingfisher, Henkel & P&G incorporating sustainability into their product design and brand ethos. Smaller businesses have also been spearheading the charge with zero waste shops flourishing and Welsh brands like Get Wonky – who make fruit drinks from wonky and misshapen fruit packaged in glass bottles – gaining popularity. Companies specialising in environmental technology and improvements such as Kingspan Insulated Panels and our clients Specific in Swansea have also made ground-breaking steps in creating a more sustainable future.

2019 is the year that environmental campaigners have branded the ‘point of no return’.

Using Design to Maximise your Environmental Credentials

As a design agency we’re conscious of the sustainability challenges facing our sector; from the services we offer to our clients through to our in-house ethos and approach, it’s our responsibility to think strategically and work creatively to maximise social impact, not to the detriment of the environment.

When working on a brief with all clients, we always design for maximum impact and minimal waste. We suggest incorporating sustainable options in the early stages of conversation and planning. We can also advise on sustainable paper stocks, the use of eco-friendly vegetable based inks, print finishes and large scale graphics.

When it comes to post event options or new season designs, as a creative agency we can also suggest recycling and reusable choices, which reduces landfill and reduces the dilemma of maintaining shelves full of out of date catalogues and flyers. We can help you make the right choices towards becoming a more sustainable and responsible business.

A Culture of Accountability

You may ‘only’ be producing a menu, a set of business cards or you may be tasked with actively delivering a national recruitment campaign but what you do and how you do it has significant influence on how potential customers respond. Consumers – especially Gen Z – have grown sceptical of tokenistic approaches by organisations and any brand looking to future proof their organisation needs to ensure authenticity and credibility at all touchpoints. Will you be a vocal champion of change and shout out about the positives of being an ethical business?

61% of consumers say they’re likely to switch to a brand that is more environmentally friendly than their current brand.*

One of the Biggest Polluters

Conferences and exhibitions are great for networking, introducing new businesses and showcasing your brand. As well as all the benefits, they’re also sadly one of the main sources of carbon emissions and are responsible for many discarded roll up banners and a graveyard of discarded plastic pens, name badges and lanyards. Never mind the added impact of delegate travel, electricity, power and food waste that comes with the event.

Top Exhibition Tips

1. Consider a design stand with reusability in mind.

Think ahead on how your stand can be used again; if you can avoid the use of changeable information such as dates and prices, there’s no need to reprint banners for new events, saving on both waste and on cost as well.

2. Think about your materials.

Can the materials be sourced locally? Are they made from recycled material or are they produced sustainably and free from toxic finishes? There is now a plethora of options aside from pvc such as bamboo or cardboard that can be used to minimise your environmental impact without compromising on quality and style.

3. Sustainable gifting.

Promotional items needn’t require a big budget and we love coming up with memorable gifts for clients attending conferences. Think branded flower seeds, eco-tote bags and recycled pens or stationery.

Icon recently worked with a client on designing a range of communication materials for a high profile conference held in Glasgow in July. From the start of the project plan we identified the optimum numbers of delegate programmes and flyers which were created using sustainable sources as well as designing promotional giveaways that maximised the brand whilst minimising waste (who doesn’t appreciate a quality notepad and functional backpack?).

Organisers also used the opportunity as a fundraiser, generating income for two local environmental charities in Scotland and opted for a vegan and vegetarian menu for the event duration. The response was impressive with a record number of attendees at the conference as well as netting the highest recorded increase in new, young members for the organising association.

Leading by Example

As part of our Environmental Policy Statement we’re making strides to becoming a zero-waste design studio and minimising our impact on the environment. We’ve also a member of Cynnal Cymru; the leading organisation for Sustainable Development in Wales, building a business network of like-minded organisations across the country.

Drive Genuine Change

Let’s all make a commitment to front-up on sustainability in 2022 and motivate consumers to value sustainable attributes.

Environmentally Friendly Statistic illustration


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