We all know what algae are right? It’s that green stuff that floats around in lakes and oceans that makes us shriek when it comes close to us, even though it causes no harm. We all know what I’m talking about. Not to get too scientific but algae are a photosynthetic, eukaryotic group of organisms that are considered to be plants but are actually not related to plants at all. They are found in oceans, lakes, rivers, and ponds and they play a major role in our ecosystems. You’re probably thinking what does algae have to do with print marketing? Keep reading to find out!

Paper Isn’t Your Enemy

Nowadays print marketing is everywhere! It’s in your mailbox, seen on your drive to work, in malls and at your workplace. Print marketing is anything that is printed and sent to you in the form of an advertisement or sales promotion. A lot of companies are actually “Going Paperless!” Woohoo! Because going paperless is greener than using paper, right? That’s actually a myth, sorry to break it to you. Paper is one of the few truly sustainable products in the world, it is made from a natural resource that is renewable, recyclable, and compostable. So basically it is gold, to marketers. (So long as the print industry follows the special government rules and regulations.) Furthermore, harvesting trees can actually be good for the environment by supporting Sustainable Forest Management. When trees are mature, they are cut down, paper is made, and new trees are planted. So really, it isn’t the paper that makes traditional print marketing unsustainable…

But what does this have to do with algae??

Relax, I’m getting there. So if the paper isn’t necessarily the problem, why are so many companies boasting about going paperless?

Ever heard of petroleum oil? It is a naturally occurring oil that is found way beneath the Earth’s surface. Forming from the remains of marine plants and animals and a combination of heat and pressure, the oil is extracted from various methods of drilling and pumping. It is an essential ingredient in so many things like:

  • Gasoline 
  • Jet fuel 
  • Producing heat and electricity for buildings 
  • Lots of other everyday items

Including, drumroll please … ink!

Man stirring black ink can


Ink is Bleeding Oil! The Unsustainability of Ink

Paper marketing depends on ink, and most companies use petroleum oil-based ink mainly because it is cheaper to produce and dries quickly. Needless to say, the processing and use of petroleum oil have a pretty gnarly impact on the environment. It leads to various air and water pollution and greenhouse emissions. As I mentioned before, this destructive but annoyingly useful oil is a naturally occurring, nonrenewable resource. Meaning, once it’s all gone; it’s all gone. The Earth likes to take its sweet time creating it, taking a few million years to form, so unless you’re willing to wait, the print industry needs to find a better alternative.

Garden to Graphic: Coloring the World with Veggie Ink

Algae ink printed on bookWith the hopes of using less of Earth’s sacred petroleum oil, there are other ink alternatives out there. Inks that are made out of soy, linseed, tung, cottonseed, and china wood oils. The reason that more people aren’t often using these substitutions is because vegetable inks require special knowledge and treatment when used, they also take longer time to dry. A newer, more sustainable alternative ink is made from algae.

Algae is a plant that grows naturally, in abundance. While colors are currently limited to black, grey, and blue as the technology is still developing, companies like Living Ink are working on producing cyan, magenta, yellow and green inks. Even though ink alternatives may have their cons, their benefits significantly outweigh their negatives and are an overall better option for the health and safety of ourselves and our planet.


Looking to Go Sustainable? 1-Stop Has a Garden Variety of Eco-Friendly Print Options

1-Stop Design Shop supports using ink substitutions that protect our environment. We specialize in sustainable forms, and packaging, don’t hesitate to reach out and discuss our ink options with one of our design specialists here.