Design professionals have an important role to play in fighting climate change and advocating for an environmentally sustainable future for all. As the Association representing graphic designers in Canada, we also recognize the important role that we play in this critical situation.
"As creative professionals, we have a responsibility to ensure that our work is meaningful and sustainable," says Wendy Millard RGD, RGD's President. "It's important than we consider our impact on the environment not only with the final pieces that we create, but also with our day-to-day habits at the office, at home and over the length of our careers."
At RGD, we actively re-evaluate and make changes to our programming, initiatives and work environment to reduce our environmental impact.
Our ongoing efforts to create more environmentally conscious programming include:
- Offering a variety of programming and ways to get involved that is entirely virtual, such as our weekly professional development webinars, Future By Design (with virtual speakers and the opportunity for virtual participation), Mentoring Program (with virtual mentors) and monthly all-virtual Committee meetings, so that creatives from all over the country can connect without travelling
- Featuring more local Speakers at our DesignThinkers Conferences and In-House Conferences to showcase local talent and expertise while also cutting down on travel emissions
- Ensuring that we have sessions at our Conferences and webinars that address these issues, such as those being presented by Rebeca Méndez and Jay Wall RGD at this year's DesignThinkers in Toronto
- Hosting an annual DesignThinkers Conference in Vancouver to allow attendees on the west coast to receive a world-class design conference closer to home, cutting down on travel emissions
- Recycling and reusing Conference lanyards and name badges by providing delegates with drop-off bins
- Eliminating plastic water bottles at events and encouraging attendees to bring their own water bottles and travel mugs
We strive to highlight the importance of climate and environmental justice in our initiatives and policies. They involve:
- Including a Responsibilities to Society and the Environment section (4.2) in RGD's Code of Ethics
- Supporting organizations such as Ontario Society for Environmental Education (OSEE) and High Park Nature Centre in our Designathons
- Organizing the So(cial) Good Design Awards to recognize projects related to social good that designers have contributed to
- Recognizing Student efforts through the Gravity Award for Social Good as part of RGD's annual Student Awards
- Several of the team work remotely most of the time, and non-remote staff often work from home
- At the RGD office, we collecting and separate garbage, recyclables and organic waste in the office and reduce whenever we can
- All of the in-office team bike to work (or take public transit), with space provided in the office for bike storage
"I can't think of any designer who would intentionally want their time and efforts to end up in a landfill (physically, digitally, metaphorically) so I think it's essential, and our civic responsibility, that we conscientiously consider how our decisions impact the finite space on our earth," says Victor Szeto RGD, Creative Director at Green Living Enterprises and RGD Board Member. "I don't think there's an action too small or too big, as long as there's a concerted effort to be mindful about your decisions. For example, on a day-to-day level, instead of instantly throwing out misprinted photo copy paper, I'll collect them for idea sketching paper. On a bigger scale that effects larger systems, we at Green Living make an effort to work with organizations that develop programs that impact environmental policies and funding."
- Keeping files digital, and teaching co-workers how to do the same
- Digitizing signatures so contracts and other documents don't need to be printed and signed every time
- Asking new clients about how paper collateral/swag typically performs to ensure that just enough gets ordered instead of too much
- Using Ecosia.org for searching (it plants trees for every search)
- If buying take-out food for lunch, saying no thanks to the plastic cutlery and using cutlery from your kitchen instead
- Keeping the window blinds open in the office and the lights off during the daytime
- Using 100% green hosts like Montreal’s AWS, or DCs that commit to RECs, like Apple or Google
- Reducing travel by scheduling video calls instead of in-person meetings (when possible to do so without compromising your design process)
- When designing websites, limiting the amount of large files/pages (e.g. auto-playing background videos) which take a lot of energy to run over the internet
- Asking prospective clients about their environmental policies, and choosing to partner with organizations who are taking positive steps
Get involved with RGD
RGD is dedicated to creating opportunities for design professionals to talk about key issues facing the industry. Want to continue the conversation? RGD encourages all Members to share tips, resources and more in our Slack workspace. RGD Members and Non-Members are also invited to join our LinkedIn group to continue the discussion.
RGD Members play an important role in the initiatives and programming that RGD creates. Members are invited to get in touch to learn more about getting involved in RGD's environmental efforts. Questions can be sent to .
Will you join?
"As designers, we have the power to shape narratives, to raise awareness, to influence behaviour, and to advocate for policy shifts. While it’s helpful to take small actions, our responsibility goes far beyond this. We need to look critically at how our design work might be reinforcing the status quo of economic systems that result in social injustice, and how we might be able to contribute to a brighter future instead," notes Jay Wall RGD, Principal and Creative Director at RallyRally. "In the words of Extinction Rebellion, ‘we are facing an unprecedented global emergency.’ That’s why our team from RallyRally will be participating in the Global Climate Strike rally in Toronto, then getting back to work on our projects supporting organizations to advance solutions to the climate crisis. We hope many members of our design community will join us for this day of action."