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Editor's note: Tomorrow night (Friday, 16th March), Creative Women's Circle are holding a sold-out Melbourne Design Week event titled "Socially Aware by Design: Building successful values-led small businesses", featuring female creative industry leaders and Certified B.Corp companies.
We hope to post an audio recording for members further afield and those who can't make it soon, but in the meantime, we wanted to share some insight from another Certified B.Corp female leader (and CWC Member!), Nikki Stefanoff, editor of Matters Journal.
Why we chose to publish responsibly
I’m writing this on International Women’s Day, which makes pondering the ways we, as women, can make a difference to the world through our work seem so wonderfully connected.
For me, both personally and professionally, it all starts with connections. Whether that’s through connected voices giving individuals the confidence to show others how they see and experience the world or simply a personal connection with ourselves to ask the question: ‘what do I want?’, ‘what do I care about?’, ‘what do I stand for?’ and ‘what really matters to me?’
Discovering what matters, and why we choose to do what we do, is just as important in business as it is to personal lives. Simon Sinek famously talks about starting with the why. ‘Why do you get up in the morning? Why does your organisation exist? Your Why is the purpose, cause or belief that inspires you to do what you do,’ he says. ‘When you think, act and communicate starting with Why, you can inspire others.’
Asking ‘why’ is what spawned the very existence of Matters Journal because our ‘why’ was, to us, very clear. We wanted to connect good people with people doing good things. It was to tell stories that came from a place of sustainability, impact and business while connecting two or more of our chosen topics: health, art, design, technology, environment and food. It was a way to build human-to-human connection. The kicker being that we wanted to do all this while making responsible decisions along the way. We wanted to remain connected to our planet while producing a magazine that left very little footprint.
Matters Journal is published through Local Peoples, a B Corp design studio in Collingwood, Melbourne. And so, as a B Corp, it was always part of our DNA to be advocates for sustainable design. This included our own carbon neutrality, something that would go on to drive every decision the design team made when getting issue #1 ready for print. It resulted in a process that created a print title that’s as small in its carbon footprint as it is in size and as friendly to the planet as to the humans who read it.
Turns out it’s not so hard to publish responsibly and while there are only a few printers and vendors out there printing sustainably, once you get into it the process isn’t that difficult. Ergo, in case you might want to do the same, these are the 10 responsible and sustainable design decisions we made for Matters Journal.
We used two types of paper supplied by Ball & Doggett - cyclus offset 100% recycled paper for our mini issue and ecostar 100% recycled for issue #1.
Our paper is post-consumer, which means that the paper (and carbon) has already been through a life-cycle. Pre-consumer paper is usually an offcut of someone else’s printing process and so the carbon hasn’t yet had a lifespan, making it less sustainable.
We chose not to use toxic finishes.
We paid a lot of attention to our carbon neutrality, which started when we realised that our paper had to be imported as Australia doesn’t have a local source. This meant that the nearest thing we could do was to carbon offset by planting trees. From that point our distributor covered the offset to the printer and as we used carbon neutral printer Finsbury Green, their carbon was already offset.
We chose not to use thick paper as we believe that our value lies in our stories and not our paper. So our paper is just thin enough that you can’t see through to the next page and thick enough that it holds up and doesn’t perforate too easily or degrade quickly.
The size of our page was informed by the greater size of the mill paper, with trimmings taken into account. If you can be aware of the mill pack (parent sheet) size, then you can design a page that minimises waste and maximises efficiency.
In terms of colour most printers already print with water-based ink, that’s just the way the market is going, which is a good thing, environmentally.
Saddle stitching is more environmentally friendly, so we used it for our mini issue, however, the adhesive that we used on issue #1 was more toxic and needs to be noted, for transparency.
The sleeve design that characterises Matters Journal is a design embellishment that didn’t involve compromising our environmental footprint. The fold was a great way to provide the reader with something different and interactive whilst not demanding that we sacrifice our carbon neutrality.
We choose to use less pages to tell a story.
Those 10 points may not seem like much but to us they are everything. They are our ‘why’ and by stopping and taking the time to connect with that ‘why’ it helped guide our entire process.
We also understood that the stories we told were our greatest asset and that by connecting readers to themselves and the world around them we could begin to make small changes. We wanted to tell people that small changes can make a big difference to someone. So, use a keepcup for your coffee, buy your clothes from HoMie, your toilet paper from who gives a crap, use Thankyou for your bathroom and baby products and make a greater effort to choose B Corps over other businesses. We’ve all got to start somewhere.
My personal ‘why’ goes back to this concept of connections and stories. I believe that each and every one of us is connected and if we all took even a minute to slow down and listen to ourselves and the people around us, we might be surprised to find out what matters the most. To us and to them. And then, we can act on it. Then we can really try to make a difference.
Nikki Stefanoff is editor of Matters Journal. After spending 13 years editing and writing for newspapers and magazines in London, Nikki now uses her journalism background and love of a good chat to find powerful and meaningful stories to tell.