Graphic Designer Combines Art and Sustainability

Eco-friendly design firm Designarchy's logo

Tania Kac, owner of Designarchy, sustainable graphic design firm

Tania Kac, owner of Designarchy, sustainable graphic design firm. Photo: Courtesy Tania Kac

It takes courage to look at your profession and say, “We are part of the problem.” But Tania Kac, a freelance graphic designer who offers eco-friendly design solutions, does just that.

“We’re generating ideas that end up in the trash,” says Kac. “I’m passionate about design, but I also see how it impacts the environment. We create billions and billions of pieces of trash every year.”

Kac currently operates under the label Designarchy. Her graphic design business, which is based in Iowa, created a portfolio for the 2010 Natural Living Expo in Des Moines.

Prior to that, she worked for a traditional graphic design firm in California. She launched her freelance business in 2005 and left the firm in 2008.

Sustainable Solutions

Stormwater Pollution in the San Francisco Bay chart designed by Tania Kac of Designarchy

Stormwater Pollution in the San Francisco Bay chart designed by Tania Kac of Designarchy. Courtesy: Designarchy

There are two sides to the business of sustainable graphic design: the actions of the graphic designer and the actions of the customer. Kac minimizes her impact on the environment in several ways.

“On my end, there are a lot of things that can be done. There’s water conservation, waste management—and I can reuse paper. I try to use printers that have green operations. They use recycled paper and conserve water,” she explains. “We also offset 100 percent of electricity usage with green tags.”

When energy enters the municipal grid, it becomes impossible to know how it was produced. Green tags, also known as Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), allow consumers to specify that they want only energy from renewable sources to power their homes and businesses. Green tags both fund renewable energy sources and let companies know that there is a demand for clean energy.

Designarchy is certified by both Green-e and Green America as an environmentally and socially responsible business. But, being socially responsible means Kac must consider more than her own actions, she also has to think about the actions of her customers.

“We try to get our clients to use printers that have green operations,” says Kac.. “The easiest way is to use recycled paper and soy-based inks. But, a lot of printers are still traditional. They’re resistant to change.”

Living Her Values

Yggdrasil Urban Wildlife Rescue Annual Report designed by Tania Kac of Designarchy.

Kac often volunteers her talents for organizations that she's passionate about. Courtesy: Designarchy

In the design community, Designarchy is unique. “We’re behind other professions, like interior designers or industrial designers,” Kac explains. “In construction, you can be LEED certified anywhere in the country. In graphic design, there’s no easy way to guide people in how to become green.

“Different states have different, if any, voluntary certification programs which are site-specific. For example, Designarchy was the first certified-green graphic design business in Berkeley, California. But, there’s no equivalent Green Business Program in Iowa.

“I decided that I want to create beautiful things, and I want to create solutions that are perfect for my clients. I’m passionate about design, but I also see how it impacts the environment. It’s about minding every decision that you’re making, even in your personal life,” says Kac.

Kac’s green contributions definitely go beyond her business. In addition to her regular clients, she volunteers her services for several environmentally conscious organizations.

“Something that I love to do is help companies that are helping animals in one way or another. My heart is with animals, so I’d like to help organizations that don’t have that much money and are trying to do the right thing.”

Kac has donated work to the Yggdrasil Urban Wildlife Rescue, the McDonald Ranch Youth Program and Animal Rescue, Compassionate Cooks, and many other organizations.

Looking to the Future

Book design by Tania Kac of Designarchy.

Book design by Tania Kac of Designarchy. Courtesy: Designarchy.

So, what’s next for Designarchy?

“I want to start offering some simple web packages,” says Kac. “I’ve been working primarily with print.” Kac also plans to redesign the Designarchy website.

“And, the majority of my clients are in the Bay Area or other parts of the country,” she says, “but I really want to focus more on Iowa. I like to have local clients; I like the mix.”

Whatever comes next, Kac says that Designarchy will continue to provide clients with sustainable design solutions.

To learn more about how graphic design can be sustainable, take a look at the resources on the Designarchy website.

“Nobody’s perfect,” Kac says. “I certainly am not. It’s about looking at what you can do, and knowing that you have a power to effect change.”

For More Information

Contact: Tania at Designarchy



Alenka Figa


Blue Planet Green Living


Green Festival in Chicago May 16, 17

Chicago's Green Festival will have something for everyone. Photo: Courtesy Green Festival

Chicago's Green Festival will have something for everyone. Photo: Courtesy Green Festival

If you’ll be in Illinois this weekend, head on over to Navy Pier to attend Chicago’s third annual Green Festival, May 16 and 17. Billed as the “original green consumer living event,” the weekend will provide “a vision of a cleaner, more efficient future for American businesses, homes, and lifestyles.”

The event is jointly sponsored by Global Exchange and Green America (formerly Co-op America), both of which are “dedicated to environmental and social justice.” The Green Festival provides a forum to learn about “sustainable solutions for successful communities and a healthier environment.” Regional groups contributing to the program include BIG: Blacks in Green™, University of Illinois Extension, The Field Museum and Local First Chicago.

Two more Green Festivals will take place later this year in Washington, D.C., (October 10 and 11) and in San Francisco (November 13-15). Earlier Green Festivals were held recently in Seattle (March 28 and 29) and Denver (May 2 and 3). In 2008, more than 125,000 people attended the festivals in total.

Kevin Danaher, Co-Founder of Global Exchange and Executive Co-Producer of Green Festival, describes the Green Festival’s purpose as “to share with local communities the importance of living socially responsible and environmentally conscious lives.” He adds that the Chicago festival focuses on “the realities of going green and how to incorporate it into a daily routine to see results in health, finances, and local environment.”

According to a press release from the Green Festival, the Chicago festival will include “eco-insight into the transitioning economy, growing consumer consciousness and evolving environmental policy with over 125 visionary speakers, 350 local and national green businesses, and dozens of community and nonprofit groups. All exhibitors must meet strict standards set by Green America, guaranteeing the highest level of social and environmental responsibility in all participating organizations. Every element of each business is thoroughly vetted to ensure authentic sustainability.”

If you’ve ever wondered whether going green is attainable and affordable, you’ll find the answers here. The show will include the most innovative ideas and products you can find on the eco-friendly scene, as well as speakers who will talk about environmental and social justice issues. Watch for presentations like these:

  • “25 Years Later, Justice for Bhopal,” survivors speak out
  • “Environmental Justice,” with youth community organizer Marisol Bacerra
  • “Greening the Disability Community,” with Ayo Maat
  • “An Edible Education Round Table,” with famed chef Alice Waters
  • “Building Community solutions for Native Nations,” by Laura Bartels
  • “Green Fixes for the Economic Mess,” featuring Alisa Gravitz, Executive Director of Green America

Attractions for All

On the show floor, you’ll find a sustainable marketplace featuring top-notch fair trade and eco-friendly wares from local and national vendors. At the Green Home Pavilion, you’ll be able to participate in a variety of workshops in which you can learn diverse skills and techniques, such as how to do an energy audit in your home or how to set up a compost for your apartment.

The festival isn’t just for the older generation. It’s got features designed specifically by and for youth. Young adults will find entertaining and informative exhibits, games, and workshops presented by their peers. Your little ones won’t be left out, either, as the Organic Valley Green Kids’ Zone provides fun activities for the younger set.

Small Carbon Footprint

Having participated in a number of trade shows in my career, I can testify to the huge environmental footprint and waste that occurs with every show. Not so with the Green Festival, as it’s organizers have been walking the talk by modeling environmental and social leadership since its inception in 2002.

Historically, the festival has reused, recycled, or composted 97 percent — or more — of the waste generated by the show. Responding to the Festival’s commitment to a small carbon footprint, USA Today called the Green Festival a model of “how it should be done.”

If you arrive on your bike, you’ll get a discount on admission as well as free valet parking for your carbon-free transportation vehicle. In addition, the Festival team is providing carbon offsets for the entire event, including for the staff and organizers.

Go Green and Save

As we endeavor to illustrate by example in Blue Planet Green Living, going green is “Earth Wise. Money Smart.” And that’s exactly the message that the Green Festival is working to convey. As Gravitz says, “In addition to providing the Chicago community with exciting and relevant programming, we will also provide perspective on one of the most pressing issues of our time: economic stability. Through the many talks and exhibits at the Green Festival, participants will be able to learn how to go green in their careers, investments, and lifestyle. Going green is a commitment that will add up to big savings for your wallet and the planet.”

Speaker Highlights

You won’t want to miss the opportunity to hear from this year’s list of outstanding speakers:

  • Amy Goodman, award-winning journalist, host of Democracy Now! and co author of The Exception to the Rulers and Static
  • Alice Waters, renowned chef of Chez Panisse in Berkeley
  • Paul Stamets: Mycologist and mushroom cultivator from Fungi Perfecti, a family-owned, environmentally friendly company specializing in the use of gourmet and medicinal mushrooms to improve health
  • John Perkins: Founder and board member of Dream Change and the Pachamama Alliance, and author of best-selling Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
  • Alisa Gravitz: Executive Director of Green America and Executive Co-Producer of Green Festival
  • Kevin Danaher: Co-Founder of Global Exchange, Executive Co-Producer of Green Festival, and Executive Director of Global Citizen Center
  • Damali Ayo: Activist and author of How to Rent a Negro
  • And more!

Program Highlights

The event will provide a wealth of entertainment and information, including:

  • Organic Valley Green Kids’ Zone
  • Youth Unity
  • Community Action Center
  • Green Home Pavilion
  • Fair Trade Pavilion
  • Music Stage Featuring Local Acts
  • Socially Responsible Investing
  • Natural Food, Beer & Wine
  • Eco Fashion
  • Eco Tourism
  • Green Careers
  • E-waste recycling


Navy Pier, 600 E Grand Avenue, Chicago
Saturday, May 16: 10:00AM – 7:00PM
Sunday, May 17: 11:00AM – 6:00PM
$15 for two days/$10 for seniors, students, and all who arrive by bicycle or public transit

Free Admission: Children 18 and younger, Green America or Global Exchange members and volunteers, those who bring three or more books to donate to BetterWorldBooks

Friends of the Green Festival

With a donation of $75 you’ll receive:

  • Full Green Festival admission
  • A coupon for two free drinks at the Organic Beer & Wine Garden
  • 20% off at the Green Festival Store and the BetterWorldBooks Book Store
  • An exclusive tour of the Greening Operation at Green Festival – witness how we achieve 95% resource recovery
  • A visit with Alisa Gravitz of Green America and Kevin Danaher of Global Exchange, and receive an autographed copy of their books: The Green Festival Reader and Building the Green Economy
  • Regular Executive Producer Updates about the Green Festivals from Global Exchange and Green America

For more information on Chicago or any other Green Festival event, visit:

About Green America (formerly Co-op America)

Green America is a national nonprofit organization founded in 1982, providing the economic strategies, organizing power and practicing tools for businesses and individuals to address today’s social and environmental problems. Its Green Business Network is the largest national network of businesses screened for their social and environmental responsibility.

About Global Exchange

Global Exchange is a membership-based international human rights organization dedicated to promoting social, economic and environmental justice around the world. Since its founding in 1988, Global Exchange has successfully increased public awareness of root causes of injustice while building international partnerships and mobilizing for change.

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)