SUSTAINABILITY 101 (ART CENTER EDITION)
Good afternoon. How are you? The new Weekly Monster is in the works, but until that’s ready, let me share a recent piece of mail with you. Yesterday afternoon I received a 6×9″ postcard from Art Center College of Design, my alma mater — a school that I love truly, madly, deeply. Here is the front of the card:
OK… not that exciting, but alright.
Design leadership. You got it.
Hit me with your message, school!
The message is… there will be a message! Soon!
Now… again… I love Art Center. My three years at the school gave me all kinds of excellent tools to make a life in design. I know a lot of the people currently involved in running the place. Even though they might not all agree which way the school should go, they all work with honest enthusiasm and dedication to give the students the best experience possible.
As a corporate entity the school also likes to talk a good game about environmental sustainability, about greening up. In fact, they’re laudably doing so on their home page right now. So it’s more than a little irksome to receive this non-announcement card in the mail. How many thousands of these cards went out to the alumni mailing list? How much energy was wasted on a card that says and does absolutely nothing?
Pay careful attention to my mailbox? Why sure! I was going to just take the next two weeks worth of mail and chuck it in the trash unopened. But now that I’ve received the heads up, I’ll certainly keep my eyes open. I mean… for crying out loud. At the very least, give me a web link to go to. Or a phone number to call and inquire. Anything! Something to make this mailing something other than a complete waste.
I know it’s a small thing — a tiny misstep by an otherwise excellent school — but if you’re “leading the world in design” small things matter, and many small things add up to a big thing. (Also, there are pedantic cranks out there who like to blog about stuff.)
A good friend of mine works as a print rep. He is environmentally conscious, as is the printer he works for—which is one of the reasons I love them. He frequently teaches seminars on print production, sometimes with a focus on sustainability. When he talks about it, he acknowledges that all the soy ink and recycled paper in the world don’t make printing a green activity. So the rule is this: Think about what you’re printing. Maybe the correct answer is to send out an e-mail instead, or to build a mini-site. Save your printing dollars for the things that really need to be on paper. And when you do, put the information in a format people will want to keep. An object doesn’t become waste until somebody stops using it.
I’m going to stop using this postcard now.
Bitching and moaning aside, you do know—don’t you?—that 344 LOVES YOU
Addendum—Today’s Mail: Two wrist pads,
sent in two separate 22x15x5 boxes. Good times!