Eco-friendly – how to print greener
09.12.2021

Eco-friendly – how to print greener

Products and solutions that do not harm the environment are increasingly sought after. The printing and publishing market is no exception here. Our clients would like to know how to print to be more eco-friendly. As a matter of fact there are quite a few possibilities. What’s more, they are ecological, cost-effective and sensible at the same time. We have 5 tips for you to help you print your books with a limited environmental impact.

Less is better

This is the key and the most versatile principle. Minimalism and simplicity benefit ecology. If you want the printer to produce your book in compliance with ecological requirements you need some moderation. It is already at concept stage that a somewhat critical look should be taken at the design, e.g. do you really need a dust jacket and a band? Or maybe the idea of leaving a blank page before every chapter could be reconsidered. Or perhaps you have gone a bit overboard with cover enhancement? Getting rid of superfluous elements will save energy, resources and money.

bez laminatu

bez laminatu 2Examples of covers without laminate.

Standard = more eco-friendly

This principle mainly applies to sizes. As a rule, standard sizes utilise the book sheet to the fullest. The less unusual size you choose, the less waste is usually generated.
Did you know? The small notebooks you often get from us at book fairs or in sample packages are produced using trimmings. This is our way to make sure nothing goes to waste.

Say no to waste

The problem of waste comes up most often in the context of food, but in a way it also applies to publishing. You may ask how it is possible to waste books if they have no best-before or expiry date, unlike perishable food products. Well, here is the answer: to produce books we use resources, electricity and fuel, and we leave a carbon footprint. What if there are not as many readers as we assumed? The relative resistance books have to the passage of time may not help if there is no-one to buy and read them. Stories of stacks of books gathering dust in warehouses only to end their journey in the author’s garage are not urban legends. In such cases the whole effort of publishing a book is lost.

However, the nature of digital printing supports responsible and efficient production management. Clients of a low-run printing house can have as many copies printed as they need at the moment. They are not left with piles of unsold books and if the print run turns out to be too low, they can order a second run. The publisher can test the market response by launching a few dozen books first and having the target run printed later.

Choose certified paper

Paper is made from wood that needs to be sourced from somewhere. How can we be sure that the paper your book is printed on has not been a part of a valuable and perishing ecosystem in its previous incarnation? The FSC® Certificate is a guarantee that the wood used to make the paper has been harvested by observing all the measures that reduce the environmental impact to the minimum. So, we can be certain that our paper comes from a responsibly managed forestry production.

eko druk 1

eko druk 2The FSC label confirms that the paper used in the book comes from  properly managed forests. 

Less plastic = greener choices

We do our best as a printing house. For example, we use cut cardboard instead of plastic film to protect packages with books. We have also replaced disposable plastic bottles with reusable bottles.

What can our clients do? Give up lamination. We understand this is not a solution for everyone, as laminate has some indisputable advantages. However now we are contemplating eco-friendly ideas. Laminate is basically plastic film applied at a high temperature to protect the cover. Publishers often decide against its use for aesthetic reasons – without lamination the texture of the cover paper can be emphasised. In other words, giving up on lamination does not require a sacrifice. On the other hand though, a book cover without a film coat is exposed to dirt and damage. So, consider the ultimate use of your book and whether or not you can let go of the laminate.
Another element you can skip is polyolefin shrink film used to package individual copies of books. We can see that more and more clients prefer not to do it, which is a welcome trend in our opinion.

Eco-friendly – small steps are the best way

If you do care about the environment but for some reasons you can’t follow all our suggestions above, don’t let that torment you! You don’t have to tick all the boxes to be environmentally conscious. Even your smallest step in the right direction is appreciated. It is just good to know all the options.

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lidia piasecka

Lidia Piasecka

Graphic designer at Totem.com.pl. She writes because she enjoys it, but only when she isn’t busy drawing. Enthusiast of vintage furniture, she restores them to their original glory. Lover of cats, moths and the Moomins.

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