A greener events industry

by Simon McClelland Morris
Environmental, Uncategorized, Sustainable print, Inspiration, Eco, Large format

The Graphical Tree x isla

The Graphical Tree has been committed to developing and enhancing its sustainable large format printing offering for a number of years now. It’s not an easy journey if we’re honest with you. Behind the scenes, much work goes on speaking to suppliers, testing materials and substrates, as well as continued R&D into potential new products or processes we could on-board to enhance our eco offering.

But we have a solid foundation to work from – our production technology has been chosen based on its environmental credentials. Most of our printers use water-based ink which gives us a great platform to start from. Thankfully more and more environmentally-friendly large format print products are being developed and available all the time. The demand for ‘greener graphics’ is growing from suppliers like The Graphical Tree and now, increasingly from end-users such as the events industry and retail brands. This means the cost to produce ecologically sound graphics is slowly becoming cheaper. It used to be a prohibitive exercise, but as the world wises up to the importance of a more sustainable way of living, greener materials and substrates are becoming easier to source and use.

However, it’s still a slightly horrifying problem to know that so much more can be done within the industry to increase sustainability and reduce the stress on the environment which it currently, unfortunately, contributes to. With this in mind...

The Graphical Tree has proudly taken up the offer of becoming a founding print partner to isla as part of their Print Working Group.

Isla is a new action-focused organisation launched to help the events industry become more sustainable. As a founding print partner we can now actively share our knowledge and experience to advocate change and positive development – whether this is sharing knowledge of sustainable print and production techniques; the re-use and recyclability of materials; or the adding of own voice to the combined narrative of the organisation and fellow partners to push through sustainable print directives to venues, planners and project managers; as well as hopefully even influencing sustainable policies at government level – that’s the plan. Joining Isla gives The Graphical Tree, a wider platform to encourage change.

As we have discovered already, eco gains may be made but so much more can be done to improve things. We recognise that it’s important not to remain static, but to evolve with this still fledgling sustainable print movement. Joining isla helps push us forward and keep the momentum going. It also helps keep us accountable, knowing that even if we are self-motivated to the cause, we have contemporaries walking beside us, ensuing, and helping us carry the load forward along the path.

Isla was conceived from the notion that, in the events industry alone, a huge amount of quick turn-around, short use waste is generated. But could that change? How much production could be re-used for another event? How much of what is being produced is actually recycled properly? How much thought is going into the planning of an event at the beginning with sustainability in mind?

How can we all, as part of isla, help to accelerate the event industry transition to a sustainable future?

One way is by working directly with agencies and brands, organisers and suppliers providing practical guidance and support on environmental issues. And drawing on combined expertise from across the sector to create a powerful network with the knowledge and confidence to encourage change.

We already align so well with the message and purpose of isla, who, through facilitation, education and reporting share knowledge, upskill and track progress in order to rapidly and measurably affect change across the events industry. Knowledge gives you the power to decide which choices and decisions to make after all.

Some of the key points that we’re trying to address are –

Use less –
For example, lighter materials mean less impact on the planet so don’t over-spec – if you have a single-use product need, would reducing the signage thickness from 10mm to 5mm work okay?

Design for longevity –
Create branded signage that can be stored and reused, or consider how graphics and print can be repurposed on another job, or even donated!

Recycled materials –
Look for products that have a high possibility of recyclability and avoid PVC where possible. And bear in mind that ‘recyclable’ doesn’t mean it gets recycled! Plan for the end of life of material at the beginning of a project and see what recycling options are available.

Of course, the work isn’t limited to the events sector. Any gains within filter through across to all facets of large format printing, and into every other sector – be it retail, property, office graphics, exhibitions, sports, the arts etc. Knowledge and progress made in one area are useable elsewhere, much to our satisfaction. We’re in this for the long haul and with the wider picture in mind.

We have an obligation to the planet and future generations to be as sustainably forward-thinking as we can be. By continued R&D; thoughtful development of a cohesive suite of sustainable materials, print solutions and practices; as well as the careful management of the reuse or disposal of a graphic – The Graphical Tree aims to offer significant improvements to the large format print industry, in terms of its impact on the planet.

We’re proud to have been asked to be a founding Print Working Group partner within isla, pioneers if you will on the journey to truly sustainable events in the future, and part of a unified message of sustainable large format print practices.

We are also proud of our work and commitment so far, enabling us to have a voice and a lot of relevant, shareable experience and knowledge in sustainable large format print.

If you are part of the event sector and would like to read more about isla, you can do so here.

If you would like to talk to The Graphical Tree about how we can help your graphic requirements be as sustainable as possible, you can contact us at print@thegraphicaltree.com or visit our eco page to learn more.

Think sustainably before you print – do you need it, can you re-use it, can you recycle it? We’re here to help see if you can.