Ideas and insights from creatives who are doing their bit to make for a safer, sustainable planet and making Green an integral part of their personal and professional lives.
Core Industries BROOKLYN NY
Core Industries is a Brooklyn-based interactive strategy, design and development shop. Our mission is to use technology to benefit the environment. We specialize in interactive design, usability, Flash, server-side programming, and viral marketing.
When and why did your firm become interested in environmentally friendly graphic design? I started the company in March of 2007 with a specific emphasis on doing interactive marketing for eco projects. After watching An Inconvenient Truth and reading Cradle to Cradle, it dawned on me that it's not wrong to build a business around green thinking… "green" doesn't have to be limited to a non-profit, or grassroots organization. In fact, I think companies can have a bigger impact on the discussion, because a company can harness more resources than other types of organizations. For example, as a company we have a formal process, a team of highly-talented and specialized people, accounting, and all the other frameworks in place for producing projects.
Are the thrust of your efforts internal — i.e., changing your own office practices and policies — or external — i.e., developing 'green' design solutions for client projects? We try to follow the philosophy of the "Triple Bottom Line", which says that success should be measured by people, planet and profit. Having a fundamental philosophy helps guide our internal and external efforts.
Internally, we constantly look for ways to be more green. Most of us ride our bikes, walk or take public transportation to work. We keep our computers turned off when we don't use them. For the servers that need to run 24 hours a day, we've specially built them to use low-powered processors and high-efficiency power supplies. We even did extensive research about which kind of garbage bag to buy for the office… do we go for the bio-degradable ones that use additives, or the corn starch-based plastic? (We ended up going with BioBags, which are starch based.) When we find stuff online, or get excited by some research, we post our thoughts to our blog: http://Greensear.ch
Can you tell us in a little more detail about the internal or external changes? In particular, can you give us an example of a 'green' project you have done for a client? We have a very strong relationship with 1% For the Planet, which was started by Patagonia's founder Yvonne Chouinard. 1% For the Planet is a non-profit that facilitates over $30 million per year in environmental corporate philanthropy. We are helping them get their message out farther, and make their internal processes simpler and more efficient. We recently rebuilt their site to have a more positive, hopeful theme to it. Partnering with the ad agency Groundswell, we re-crafted the tone of the copy and made heavy use of dramatic photos that were donated by member photographers. Behind the scenes we created a content management tool that drives their website but has also become the nexus of their business processes, reporting and accounting. It's a great example of using technology to benefit the environment.
But it's not just non-profits. Last fall we worked on a very ambitious program for VW called "Carbon Neutral". They planted a forest to help sequester the CO2 output of their whole new car fleet. We worked closely with their forestry management company to measure the CO2 and keep their corporate website and worldwide banner campaign updated with real-time data. And this fall, we're working with LiveEarth on a number of exciting initiatives that operate online and on mobile devices.
Can being 'green' help you in your marketing and sales to gain new projects or clients? For us, green is more of a filter than marketing advantage... we're more likely to turn down work that doesn't feel right, than we are to gain work just for our green point of view. And that's actually a great thing. I don't personally buy products that are "green" just for that alone. When I buy something it has to be designed well, function well, and have as little impact on the environment as possible. In other words, companies that produce green products need to make sure their products are awesome and green. We try to hold ourselves to that philosophy too.
As a practical matter, does the economic slowdown effect make it harder to be 'green.'? The beauty of sustainability is that you can do more with less… it's not about buying the most expensive soap at Whole Foods. I sometimes think of "green" as the analogy of American vs European. In America, we drive from the suburbs to our work place, we load up our cars with manufactured foods wrapped in plastic. In Europe, people walk or ride to work, buy their bread and cheese at the bakery and cheese shop down the street, etc. We need to be conscious of the hidden costs of all the "cheap" stuff we buy from Walmart and Target… those plastic bits stay with us for generations, and we're passing our reduced costs onto our kids as clean up penalties.