Beautiful Signs for a Better Planet
Given the complexity of our climate crisis, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and question if small improvements really can make a difference. As small business owners raising two young children, Simon and I have often wondered if environmentally-friendly office signs are just a drop in the bucket and even worth the effort—to our family and the green building community.
Addressing both the big picture of of green buildings and the ultimate scope of climate change, we wanted to find out exactly how sustainable door signs can positively impact our planet. It’s easy to get stuck on the demoralizing and downright hypnotic “zombie statistics” that 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions. But, surely, even a small door sign can help. Power to save the environment must rest in all of our hands.
Like most entrepreneurs starting out, we had a vision of what we wanted to achieve: dramatic plastic reduction while making signs look as good or better than the current methods. Each door sign had to be beautiful, durable, and priced right.
Although we blazed the trail for sustainable ADA compliant signage, we were embraced by a thriving community of like-minded individuals who also cared about the logistics of saving the planet. As we began researching and implementing green and economically-viable alternatives to traditional signage materials, a wide and deep network of established frameworks helped us visualize the eco-friendly trajectory of our product.
Guided by the Health Product Declaration (HPD), U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED certification, and International Living Future Institute (ILFI) Living Building Challenge (LBC) standards, we embraced constituent transparency and purged all harmful materials from our production process.
In 2021, Simon joined the USGBC Market Leadership Advisory Board and looks forward to helping the USGBC Minnesota team develop and implement programming that supports USGBC’s local, regional, and global goals.
Having the support of these established organizations who shared our vision for a better future gave us an additional, more detailed, roadmap to enact revolutionary revisions to traditional signage materials. First to go was all phthalates and, as of recently, we are proud to have replaced the irritant D-limonene with more gentle and bio-based wood sealing oils. Although it was, at times, daunting to reinvent the wheel of ADA signage, Green Dot Sign® is achieving our financial goals while delivering environmentally responsible products to our clients.
To anyone debating the leap of faith to sustainable, responsible products: You (and our planet) have nothing to lose! All environmentally beneficial actions are worthwhile, no matter how small. Every individual product maker who improves upon the system makes it easier for other craftspersons and even consumers to make the right decisions, too. Being a great example—choosing responsible materials and sharing transparent ingredient lists—will only strengthen the system that is already here, just waiting to be used. And you’ll be in good company.
Building upon our past sign industry and marketing experience, the best action Simon and I can take is to produce and sell sustainable braille office door signs. While signs are a small building component, they are placed at every doorway and are highly visible. Every time a client or staff member walks through a doorway and sees an eco-friendly door sign, it’s a reminder that an organization cares about the environment and walks-the-walk, not just talks-the-talk.
Although plastic signs are the norm, they don’t have to be! Why have a faux wood door sign when you can have the real thing? Each one of our sustainable signs uses 250 grams or less plastic than its plastic-based counterpart. Instead of cutting out sign decals from sheets of vinyl and throwing away the excess, Green Dot Sign® uses 3D printing to efficiently lay down only the plastic that’s needed.
Furthermore, this patented processes adheres the sign elements even stronger to the sign backing than traditional signage adhesion methods. While the decals on traditional signs can be scraped off by hand, it’s nearly impossible to remove our bonded plastic decals. Door sign durability is especially important for those who read tactile elements, such as braille and raised pictograms.
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®) 100% certified wood composes all of our ready-to-order ADA signs and the bulk of our custom signage. FSC® promotes environmentally sound, socially beneficial, and economically prosperous forest management. Aluminum and bronze, both reusable and recyclable materials, make up our exterior signage line.
Also, Re-purposing is an eco-savvy way to move into your organization’s future while remembering and honoring your past. If clients have wood, metal, slate, or other product from remodeling or demolishing an original building and desire to incorporate these old materials into new signage, Green Dot Sign® is passionate about reusing these materials.
Biophilic design, AKA building design that connects humans to nature, is a powerful agent in the fight against climate change. Firstly, natural materials such as wood, water, stone, and even the color green have been shown to benefit the mental and physicals health of building users. The IWBI WELL Building Standards recognizes these benefits and directly references biophilic design throughout its concepts, including Movement: Movement Network and Circulation.
Secondly, the beauty of natural materials in something as simple and accessible as a wooden door sign may inspire onlookers to appreciate, explore, and endeavor to protect nature. Within the fatiguing, sterile walls of too many buildings, it’s all too easy to forget about the precious gift of nature right outside your doorstep.
As part of the Green Dot Sign® commitment to the environment, we established a return and recycle program for our wood-based signage. Product recycled through our Extended Producer Responsibility Program (EPR) are actually reused three times before returning to the earth, keeping the wood carbon out of the ground for even longer. At the end of a sign’s usable life, it can be shipped back to us where the 1% of plastic decoration is shaved off and disposed of responsibly. After that, the wood base is shredded, used as animal bedding, and then becomes crop fertilizer and eventually decomposes.
While installing one green sign in your building is probably not going to be the act that halts climate change, it’s important to remember that change is cumulative. It’s the little things, the many drops in the bucket, that ultimately add up and matter. Paving the way for sustainable, affordable, and beautiful products, one green sign at a time, is how we at Green Dot Sign® believe we can create the greatest positive change.
Maybe a Green Dot sign steers your organization’s creative energy in a greener direction.
Maybe a Green Dot sign pushes purchasing decisions, from ADA signage to fuel usage, to consider sustainable alternatives.
Maybe a door sign can change the world after all!