Event Recap: Sustain-Able By Design

Last week AIGA Santa Barbara visited V3 in Oxnard for the first time since 2008 to check in with three of our favorite environmentally-friendly companies: Patagonia, Mohawk Paper, and V3. “Sustain-Able by Design” reprises an event from almost ten years ago, when AIGA SB produced “Design for a Greener Tomorrow” featuring these same three companies. We were eager to hear their representatives’ opinions on how best practices in sustainable design and production have changed over the past decade.

About 40 guests joined us for friendly networking followed by a panel discussion about the print production process from all points on the spectrum: design, supply, and production. AIGA SB Sustainability Director David Cowan interviewed Paul Hendricks (Patagonia), Joe O’Connor (Mohawk) and Mike Szanger (V3). They discussed the importance of environmental and social responsibility, especially considering the latest political realities affecting environmental policy.

A question to Paul about how Patagonia is paying it forward by supporting organizations like 1% for the Planet and encouraging employee activism prompted him to discuss how the environment is the business. One of Patagonia’s goals is inspiring their customers to do the right thing, an argument that also carries weight with suppliers. Patagonia views the current political climate as a policy vacuum, so Paul believes that on this topic, sustainability-oriented businesses will lead when the government won’t. Joe talked about the topic of certifications, which inspire confidence in Mohawk clients. The Mohawk mill was the first to be green-sealed, establishing a level of accountability to consumers and suppliers. Mohawk adheres to a credit system for renewable energy, with verifiable emission reductions standards for carbon.

Mike described V3’s transition to near-zero waste in production, noting that very little paper waste leaves the V3 facilities for the landfill compared to a decade ago—when they were already several years into implementing such policies. Continuing from there, Joe noted that Mohawk is zero-landfill as well, commenting that making money by doing good and being sustainable isn’t considered impossible anymore. Companies that consume must do more with less, and he credits that commitment to Mohawk’s longtime family ownership over several generations, ensuring continuity of practice.

Before and after the panel discussion, V3 account executive (and AIGA SB founding member) Tom Hinkle led tours of the enormous V3 production floor, from pre-press to final product. Attendees who took the tour got to see Patagonia printed collateral in process, neatly illustrating Mike’s descriptions from the panel.

AIGA SB thanks Paul Hendricks, Joe O’Connor, and Mike Szanger for generously giving their time to this discussion panel. Thanks as well to David Cowan and Amaranthe Wolff for organizing and producing the event, Tom Hinkle for the tours, and the entire V3 staff for welcoming us back to their company.

Snapshots by David Cowan, Amaranthe Wolff and Keir DuBois.

By Keir DuBois
Published April 18, 2017
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